Tabitha the disciple had a big heart. She did good things; she was a giver. But Tabitha grew sick and died, and she was washed and laid out. The disciples sent for Peter, telling him to come right away. When Peter arrived, those grieving showed forth the garments Tabitha had made. Tabitha with the big heart had been well loved, and the mourners made their love obvious. So what exactly did Peter do now that Tabitha was gone?
On the surface, Peter brought Tabitha back to life. What a miracle, right? Absolutely. But I believe the awesome revelation is not in the miracle performed, but in the precise steps Peter took – and the lesson offered to those of us who hunger for deeper revelation, a deeper walk with the Lord, and a deeper commitment to ministering to a world in need. While on the surface it appears Peter simply, and miraculously, raised Tabitha from the dead, he actually took seven amazing steps which I believe offer an awesome instruction guide for us all. And of the seven steps he took, it is the final step that for me is the most instructive – and convicting.
What steps did Peter take in performing the miracle?
1. Peter got up from where he was in his life to go to someone in need. He was willing to move out of where he was and to go to the place he was called.
2. Peter moved the people out of the way so he could direct his attention to the person in need. He could have been distracted and carried away by the noise and need of the people, but he maintained his focus on the reason he had been called to this place and person in need.
3. Peter knelt down to the person in need. He did not stand up above her need, but knelt down in an act of service and a declaration of meeting her at her level of need.
4. Peter prayed for the person in need. He did not rush into action in his own flesh. He turned first to the Lord to acknowledge the source of the healing and to call on the Lord for His healing.
5. Peter turned to the person in need after praying. He could have prayed and walked away, assuming he was done. He might have thought he had more important things to do. But he instead took the time and care to focus on the person in need now that He had called on the name of the Lord.
6. Peter spoke to the person in need. He spoke boldly words of healing. Like God who created the world with words of power and faith, like Jesus who spoke words of power and faith, Peter spoke in confidence to the person in need words of healing and faith. In fact, he spoke the words God so often uses in the Bible – an instruction to “Arise.”
7. Peter, once Tabitha opened her eyes and sat up, reached out his hand to her and lifted her up.
Of all the steps Peter took in this miracle of Tabitha’s resurrection, I am most drawn to this last step he took. Peter didn’t have to leave where he was to come to Tabitha, but he did. Peter did not have to move the people out of the way so he could focus on the need at hand, but he did. Peter did not have to kneel down to her level, but he did. Peter did not have to pray, but he did. Peter did not need to turn to the person in need, but he did. Peter did not need to speak bold words of faith to the person in need, but he did.
Why of all these incredible steps he took am I most impressed – and convicted – by his action of reaching out his hand to her and lifting her up? I have sometimes left where I am to go to someone in need. I have sometimes moved the people out of the way to focus on the need at hand. I have sometimes knelt down to the level of the person in need. I have sometimes prayed for the person in need. I have sometimes turned to the person in need. Sometimes I have even taken all of these steps. I have done all of this imperfectly of course, when I have done it at all. But if the truth be known, rarely have I taken the final step and reached out my hand and lifted up the person in need to a new level.
Just as God reaches out His hand to me to lift me up from places I have fallen, I believe He desires me to reach out my hand to help others stand back up from the places they have fallen. It is one thing to go to them. It is one thing to pray for them. It is one thing to speak to them. But it is another thing entirely to take my own hand and use it in service to another.
Peter could have said, “Yeah, I’m done. I’ve done my duty. I did what I’m supposed to do. I served God. I helped somebody. I followed the instructions. I did my good deed today. Surely people will think well of me. I’m so proud of myself.” He did none of these things. He reached out beyond his own self to do what was not required – to use his hand to love, to help, to give, to serve, and to form a bridge of God’s mercy and compassion to a hand in need.
My desire today is to take my hand – with the love of God – and stretch it out to a world in need.
P.S. As I finished writing this piece, Angel the miracle dog came up to me to be petted. I became irritated and quickly petted her before turning her away. Then I saw what a long way I have to go in extending my heart and hand to those in need. I called Angel back to me and petted her some more. She lifted up her paw to me as though to say, “Just a little bit more please.” I extended my hand once more, and this time I remembered. It it is often a stretch to reach out of our comfort zones to give our hand to a world in need, but it is worth every inch and breath we move out of ourselves to love, to give, and to serve with the heart of God.
“Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.” Acts 9:36-42
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