Up, Girl! A Holy Spirit Story


Mark 5:22–24; 35–43 (NIV)

Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.


“The Spirit of Jesus in me greets the Spirit of Jesus in you and brings us together in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.”

If you want to learn about the Holy Spirit, immerse yourself in the life of Jesus; in the story and the stories from the gospel accounts. Remember the point is remembering these stories. We need only become immersed in the stories. The Holy Spirit will encode them into our memory, as though they were part of our own lives. This kind of memory is what leads us to “have the same mind in us that was in Christ Jesus.” As his life story and stories become encoded into our memory, the Holy Spirit catalyzes our imagination to interpolate them into our own life situations. 

Let me give a present day unfolding example of this from my own life. Some months back, a young mother contacted me asking for prayer for their newborn baby, Lily. Lily had been born quite premature with several life threatening complications. Almost immediately, the Holy Spirit reminded me of this story from Mark 5, of two parents whose twelve year old daughter was at death’s door. (Incidentally, back in the late 1900s the series of Jesus stories in Mark 5 catalyzed my own awakening to the Holy Spirit.) 

I began to speak to this mother—in a straight-line-prayer kind of way—the very words of Jesus, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” And from there I began to call out directly to little Lily, (again from the lips and language of Jesus) “Talitha Koum,” and then in the literal plain English translation, “UP GIRL!” and then “UP LILY!”  I suggested to the mom that these were two “words” they could deploy in their situation in the days ahead. “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” and “UP GIRL!” Mind you, I am doing all of this first via SMS text messaging. (Taking the Daily Text to the next level, right?) 

As an aside, I find it absolutely fascinating how the gospel writer decides to break into the actual language of Jesus here—”Talitha Koum!” Interestingly only here and at the cross. Notice how Jesus does not engage in triangulated prayer here. He goes straight-line, “UP GIRL!” 

So thirty years later, this story is deeply embedded in my actual memory—not as ancient history but as imaginative present possibility. Remember, our question is not what would Jesus do. It is what is Jesus doing. We get at that by first remembering (deep internal attachment) what Jesus actually did. 

So weeks pass. The Spirit brought Lily to my mind several times over those weeks. I continued to call out to those parents, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe,” and to Lily, “UP GIRL!” Mom would send updates and an occasional picture. For timeline’s sake, the first text came February 7. The one I’m about to share came May 25. 

Good morning JD, just wanted to send you a Lily update. She’s been slowly declining the last few days. All of the people are trying all of the things with such dedication and kindness, but it seems like we may be in our last days with her. Our older kids should arrive at the hospital later this afternoon to meet her. Dad is here with us. Would you pray for our sweet red headed girl . . . that she would feel the Lord’s hand? for our weary hearts? And the weary hearts of our older kids? Here’s a picture of her from late last week.

We press in deeper and harder through the immediate access the Spirit gives us through the portal of prayer. Family—Don’t be afraid. Only believe. Lily—Talitha Koum! UP GIRL! UP LILY! And yes, “Get up out of that grave!” 

Then later that night, this text came:

Hey JD, just a quick update. So, we’re still in the game. [followed by a lot of PICU and NICU and other technical hospital terms detailing the heroic efforts being made]

Well, it’s July 2, and Lily is still rising like Easter. I did want to share this sweet turn in the story via one more text message from Mom.

The night before we talked that day back in May . . . we knew the end might be near for her . . . Her dad opened up her Jesus Storybook Bible to read her a story. Bet you can’t guess which story was up next?! The same story from Mark that you shared. He stood at her bedside, knowing that she might be close to death, and the Lord put that story next for her to hear that night. Through his own tears, he was able to read it to her. Such a tender moment.

Just Wow Jesus! 

So I invite you to join the chorus and jump into this straight line of prayer around this little family of faith: “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” and “UP LILY!” And any other way the Spirit leads. And don’t forget G.K. 

Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up out of that grave! 

Still day one. 


God our Father, who with your son Jesus Messiah, fills us with the Holy Spirit, thank you for the miracle and the mystery of the day of Pentecost. And thank you for today, and that it is only the day after. Thank you for these gifts of Word and Spirit and for the way the Spirit encodes the Word into our very memory. Holy Spirit, increase our praying imagination and enlarge our boldness to do what Jesus is doing. Praying in his name, amen. 


Are you beginning to experiment with straight line prayer? Do you realize and accept your authorization to move in this way? Start by trying it in your daily praying. Ask the Spirit to give you words for the people you are calling out to in prayer. Trust what comes. 


Lily continues to fight and yet it is a real struggle. They got to hold her this week for the first time in three months. They have been in the hospital for six months now. Biggest issue now is her fluid balance – what they call capillary leak. Fluid keeps leaking out of her capillaries into her tissues. She’s become dependent on dialysis to remove the extra fluid. They can’t figure out why she’s leaking or how to stop it. Let’s call out to Lily in concert today and following. I have shared a picture of Lily (with parents permission) over on our Daily Text Facebook Group. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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