This is the first of a four part post on John 9.
The disciples are walking with Jesus. The blind man is minding his own business. All of a sudden the disciples
â€œHey, Jesus. Hereâ€™s a blind guy! Did his parents sin or did he sin?â€
Itâ€™s so interesting to me that this is the question. It really causes me to have a lot more questions:
1. He was born blind, right? So how could it be because of his sin? Because of the sin that God knew would be in his life? That makes my head hurt.
2. Itâ€™s completely not fair that he would be punished for his parentsâ€™ sins, right? (I know, itâ€™s a cultural belief. Iâ€™m just sayinâ€™.)
3. How do the disciples know anything about him in the first place? Where do they get off using him as an example?
4. What are they trying to prove? Whatâ€™s the point of their whole discussion?
Of course, itâ€™s a cultural question. The common belief is that bad things happen to bad people. You are blind? It must be someoneâ€™s punishment! Jesusâ€™ response is counter-cultural: No one is being punished. â€œHe was born blind so Godâ€™s works could be revealed in him.â€
This is quite possibly my very least favorite answer given by Jesus anywhere in Scripture.
What? This man has spent his entire life without his sight to give God glory?
Just like I wrestled with Soren Kierkegaard about the justness of God â€œusingâ€ Isaac and creating intense agony in Father Abrahamâ€™s heart in Genesis 22, I wrestle with this. It just doesnâ€™t seem fair. This man has spent his whole blind just so that Jesus could heal him today?
One of the things I decided early in my walk with Christ was that I trust God to always be just. I donâ€™t have to understand Godâ€™s ways, I donâ€™t have to always have an answer for whatâ€™s happening, but I can always trust that whatever God is doing is right.
Are there situations or conditions in my life, in the lives of people I love that exist so that God can be glorified? I donâ€™t know, but I think so.
â€œ…Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, â€˜My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.â€™ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.â€ 2 Cor 12:7-10
Could it be that sometimes, God is glorified when we are weak? Yes.
Could it be that God can take a â€œbadâ€ situation and do something amazing? Yes.
Have I seen this in my life? For sure. I have had dark moments, struggled with hard scenarios and lived with all kinds of pain–and I look back at them now and I can see clearly how God moved and redeemed.
For now, this man is the subject of discussion. In a moment, his life will be changed forever.
Wednesday: â€œJohn 9: The Miracle.â€
Last night, I was glancing through my twitter stream and I saw a particular blog post was being re-tweeted at a high frequency. The author was @hughlh (known in real life as Hugh Hollowell) and he tweets things like:
@hughlhTo look at my twitter followers, you would think I was Presbyterian. (Not that there is anything wrong with that…)
Anyway, I was wondering what was up with all the re-tweeting, so I clicked on the link in another friend’s tweet. The post on his site is called “What Can The Church Do To Eliminate Homelessness?” and you should go read it now. It struck a chord with me.
That’s a hard truth for me to swallow.
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(let’s get the less wonderful ones out of the way first)
Disappointment: The child tried to pull a fast one last night. Typical 12 year old kid stuff, but still disappointing. His parents are pretty sharp however and we figured it out kind of quickly. He gets to do some chores this morning and we get to sit back and watch him.
Hurt: About a situation that is out of my control.
Concern: For people in my life who are struggling with health issues or grief issues or just all the pain that sometimes rains down.
(and now the upswing)
Successful: I survived another April Fool’s Day without falling for the usual pranks and trickery (sorry to my friend Melissa who posted that she’s pregnant and I immediately replied that I don’t believe anything posted on April 1 and then accidentally led all of her friends in a conspiracy against her….and she’s actually going to have a baby in November.)
Excitement: About a new (extra-curricular) project/team that I joined this week. There are some really amazing possibilities that go along with it and it will challenge me as a leader and as a writer. More details about this in the next week, I hope!
Nervous: The above project will challenge me in some other ways too, and I’m anxious about whether or not I’ll be able to meet those challenges (but hopeful that I will)..
Peace: It’s Spring Break and I’m taking some time off.
Joy: About the quiet, beautiful, unplanned day ahead. Nothing I need to accomplish. No chores that need to be done (by me, anyway).
Hopeful: That even though I’m pretty inadequate, God still calls me to do some really unbelievable things.
Grateful: For my family and the wonderful friends and supporters God places in my life.
One of my very favorite hymns (if not my very favorite), is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. The tune is beautiful and the words hit me where I live. Especially:
“…let that grace now like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God, I love…”
I’m also “prone to wander.” It’s restlessness…selfishness…immaturity.
I’m not a runner–I don’t run away from things in my life. Physically, geographically, when facing problem, I’m pretty steady. This wandering? It happens in my heart. I’m like the author of the song–I’m prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love.”
The God I have followed on so many amazing, miraculous, adventurous paths…
The God who has blessed me beyond measure with love and friends and comforts…
The God who has called me and kept me…
The God who loves me even though I’m so very often unloveable…
I’m grateful that God finds me even in my wandering. Even when I’m the one who is heading everywhere but on the path God has called me to follow. This holy season is a time that I am reminded of my wandering heart and a time when I’m called from restlessness and distraction and back into the footsteps of the one who is leading me, despite my best efforts to take the long way.
Sufjan Stevens sings one of my very favorite versions of Come Thou Fount:
It started with a phone call in my office early last fall. A man I respect, one who sat in on the second job interview I did with Presbyterian Church nearly eleven years ago, was on the other end of the line.
“Ever hear of Big Brothers, Big Sisters?” He asked. “I think we can do it here. Will you help us?”
Mercy, I was already too busy. But it nagged at me.
So I went to the first informational meeting, attended by about 30 community leaders. Mostly, I went to support the man who had called me…but there was an exciting energy in the room, facts and figures were tossed around, the plan was proposed, I was intrigued.
And then I missed the organizational meeting–I was on vacation.
Another friend who was interested in the program called me, “I understand if you’re too busy. I get it that you have so much going on, but just in case you’re still interested, the next meeting is…” I went to that one. And another one. And then they put me in charge of recruiting volunteers. And I attended more meetings.
With an amazing group of people who are committed to seeing something change in Henderson…
- A town that leads the state (we’re #1!) in Juvenile petitions.
- A town with a frightening drop out rate.
- A town that has an undeniable drug problem among adults and our youth.
- A town that needs a proven program for our young people BEFORE they get arrested, addicted, written off.
I’ve seen lots of groups of people who were going to change things here come and go. I’ve participated in seminars attempting to address this problem. I’ve read the reports, sat with people who shook their heads and lamented the situation, I’ve heard many solutions pitched.
None of them are like this. Most of those groups never made it out of the first set of meetings. Either the participants couldn’t agree on the problem…or the solution…or the method…or the hoped-for outcome.
This group–the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Henderson County advisory board? It’s different.
When we pitched the program to the City Commission (in hopes of receiving their support, both moral and financial) the other night, one of the commissioners asked, “How long have you been organized?”
“Since October?” our spokeswoman Darlene Marshall-Ware looked at the other 10 of us board members seated behind her. We nodded–that sounds about right.
“You’ve done all of this in less than a year?” He asked. (Actually, less than six months if you’re doing the math.)
It has been amazing to be even a small part of this group that will bring such an amazing program to Henderson County. We have raised almost $30,000 in cash and $16,000 in kind, are in the process of hiring a part-time program director and will begin matching Bigs and Littles this Summer so that the program can begin running with the 2011-2012 school year. Grant writing and presentations to groups who can support us continue.
There are about 7,200 students in Henderson County between the ages of 5 and 18. If even just 10% of those kids need a mentor (and lets face it, the number’s bound to be a lot higher), that’s 720 kids who need 720 mentors.
Bottom line? There’s a lot of work to do. I’m convinced I’m with the right group to get it done.
“There is hope, ” Darlene told the commissioners. “We are part of the solution. We will not rest until every child in Henderson-Henderson County is successful.”
I love this team and I’m proud of us. There will be more to this story, for sure…
Gleaner Article about our visit to Henderson Fiscal Court
Gleaner Article about our visit to the City Commission