Only 2 days left before we begin our journey to Costa Rica! I finished my last day of work for awhile on Friday, added more articles to be packed to the piles on the bedroom floor and went to church early this morning so our team could get prayer for the trip. Excitement increases! The prayers were encouraging. We will be a blessing to the people we work for and minister to. Our unity as a team is important and will be an example to those who are watching. We're to pack Fun & Love and give it away. There were personal words to individuals that God would be changing their thinking during the trip and they would come back with new perspectives. Kevin and I will have opportunities to sit down with other couples and be able to share truth with them about life's experiences(didn't say we would have a download of Spanish to do this with, though...)
The next two days will be busy and a planning mind may interfere with sound sleep, but there is much good to anticipate. One of our preparations is to share a devotional with the team some morning. I've been meditating on John 9 this week and jotting down some things that I might share with the group.
As the disciples and Jesus are walking along one day they see a man born blind from birth. The man was probably a familiar sight, a beggar who was part of the landscape. The locals knew him and his history. The disciples ask Jesus something they probably always wondered but never knew who to ask. "Is this man blind because he sinned or because his parents were the sinners?"
Jesus says, "Neither sinned. He is blind because God wants to display His work in the man's life."
Then he spits on the ground, makes mud and applies it to the man's eyes. He is told to go and wash in a certain pool. The man does, and he can see.
God's work is certainly on display! Neighbors, Pharisees, the whole community wants to know how he can now see. The man is peppered with questions and he repeats his story. The Pharisees in particular want to know the details and who did this to him. Even after he tells them, they ask again, because they are divided on whether Jesus who did the miracle can be from God. Yes, he did it, but he didn't follow God's rules in the process!
The man's parents are called in and they acknowledge this is their son and that he was blind before, but they plead innocent of knowing how it happened, not wanting to be in disfavor with the Pharisees who were against Jesus. The blind man gains boldness as the interviews continue until he finally challenges the rulers to realize that if this man Jesus was not from God he could not do something like this.
The rulers get mad and kick him out, out from their presence, their favor, probably the place of worship where he had belonged before. Jesus finds him, reveals himself to the man and he believes in Jesus.
The things we suffer or bear in life are not always because of sin. Isn't there some encouragement in knowing that God may want to showcase to others his work of restoration or healing in our lives? As Celebrate Recovery would say, God doesn't waste a hurt.
But God's way of working may seem strange or a long time coming. The blind man waited a long time for his sight. Before he knew he would be given sight, he feels pressure on his eyes from a stranger who tells him to go wash in a certain place. Our moment of freedom or healing may come after a time when things seem to be getting worse. I'm impressed that the blind man, submitted to Jesus' touch and followed his instruction.
For years I struggled with anxiety and panic. Even though my trust was in Jesus through all of it, it was a difficult time and I felt safest when I was with my husband who knew me best. My best prop was kicked out from under me when the supportive husband died from a brain tumor, leaving me with 3 dependent children. In that worse time, Jesus touched me and set me free from anxiety. I am so grateful!
But the blind man's freedom came with a price. He was thrown out of the place where he had always belonged. When Jesus hears this, he seeks for him, reveals himself to the man and he worships Jesus. I can't really say that my freedom cost me any great price, but I do realize that the years of fears kept me dependent on God's grace and mercy constantly and his presence was my survival. Being free of what kept me tethered to him so closely, presents the challenge of not becoming independent and losing that sense of desperate need for the One who paid the ultimate cost for my freedom. If your answer, your healing, your freedom hasn't come yet, praise him for what keeps you coming to him, for those times of heart rendering moments in his presence where he comforts you and gives you his strength to keep going onward.
It's interesting to notice the blind man's progression of faith after his healing. When first asked who had healed him his answer was the man they call Jesus. Next time he says he is a prophet. He's not certain of Jesus' identity, but there's no doubt of what this man did for him. And then the man reasons and testifies to those who are questioning him, that if this man was not from God he could not have healed him. His spiritual eyes were also being opened.
That Jesus searches for the man after he had been thrown out shows his compassion and tender care for us. In our times of rejection, Jesus will find us, in fact look for us and reveal himself to us. This love causes us to worship him. So watch for him, expect him in those times and worship him.
My next entry will fill you in on adventures from Costa Rica! Stay tuned!