The curt rap shattered his focus. Scrolls and parchment leaped in all directions as he rushed to open the door.
A rolled parchment tied in a purple linen braid lay at his feet. He glanced around for the messenger. Seeing none, he hastily moved back to the crowded interior of his room, removed the braid and unrolled the parchment.
My dearest brother Luke,
Blessings to you in the Name of Christ Jesus!
My prayer is that this letter finds you well, as you attend to our dear brother Paul in Caesarea. All the saints in Thyatira pray without ceasing that he may continue carrying the gospel unhindered.
It was with great joy that I welcomed our brother Onesimus on his way to Colosse. He reminded me of my promise to you of written testimony regarding our Lord, Jesus, in Magdala.
I trust that, just as this letter has found you, so also has my family braid. I offer this dear token as proof of my testimony to the grace of Christ Jesus.
Luke scrutinized the worn purple braid lying across his open palm, visually tracing the path of each strand before continuing.
My mother, Sarah, wove this during the weeks following my birth; each linen strip representing a member of my family. She wove it tightly as a symbol of our love for each other bound by our faith in the continued blessings of Jehovah; a faith that was violently shaken when her affliction continued long after the time of purification.
My father, Jairus, was wealthy and influential because of his trade with Acco in the murex shellfish that the dyers, here in Thyatira, use for producing purple. Through his means, he was able to hire many healers; persisting in faith that they would cure mother. My mother, through the guile of those healers, endured many harsh treatments in her sustained hope that she might, again, embrace me and my father without fear of defiling us.
When, after five years, her affliction remained, mother pressed my father to allow her to leave our home for fear of fathers removal from leadership at the synagogue in Magdala. I remember father’s grief being too much to bear as I cried beneath my bedcover that night. Later, mother came into my room and took the purple braid, which you now possess, from above my bed. While feigning sleep, I watched her trembling fingers loosen the knot and remove a single purple strand; her broken voice whispering, “Adonai, please let it be your will that this be made whole again.”
Father continued paying for healers even as mother’s affliction worsened and would visit her as often as she would allow. I was comforted each time he returned by his assurances of her love, and her willingness to endure anything to be with us again.
One time, while walking through the market with father, I heard mother’s groggy voice cry “Unclean!” from somewhere in the crowd. I tried to run to her, but my father hurried me away. I remember the sorrow in his eyes as he dried my tears, “She must not see you lest she die from grief at not being able to hold you.”
When, in my twelfth year, we thought it impossible that the trial of our family could be graver, I suffered a terrible fever. In times of wakefulness, I often heard my father, always so strong before, desperately questioning Jehovah in his prayers, “What great offense have we committed that you would punish us so?”
I remember fevered dreams of lying beside my body looking at the haggard girl next to me, feeling like I was drifting slowly to somewhere…away.
Then, just as all seemed lost, I felt a voice pouring through me, pulling me back:
As my eyes opened, I could see my mother’s face as she held me. She was crying with joy as Jesus, the voice in the darkness, smiled warmly at our reunion. Father, overcome with relief, joined our embrace as the healer gently touched dangling purple strands hanging loosely from my wall.
Delight overwhelmed me further as I looked past the smothering joy of my parent’s embrace and saw that the braid, as my family, had been made whole again.
I offer this purple braid as evidence of my testimony to the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, whom recognized not as Lord until Paul revealed Him to me at Philippi.
May the peace of our Lord be with you.
Inspired by the Gospel accounts of Mark (5:21-43), Matthew (9:18-26) and Luke (8:40-56) and the account of Lydia in Acts 16.
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