Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Grocery Line Prophet

I wasn’t eavesdropping. I promise. I just couldn’t help but overhear the conversation. Of course, I landed somewhere in half-way through the story, amidst a cart full of boxes of breakfast cereal, frozen pizzas, and cases of bottled water. 

But, I guess that's how most of us land in all the stories, including our own - smack in the middle of the reel.

I used to think, she says in a loud voice, clearly not caring whether anybody overhears her or not, I used to think “Who the heck are those people? What’s WRONG with them??” And now, I look at my family and I am thinking, “OMG, WE are ‘those people”!”

Her friend – I assume it’s her friend and not some random shopper – shakes her head in silent agreement.

I don’t know whether these women know that they are quoting the Scriptures or not, but I don’t remember when the last time was that I heard such succinct summary of the first three chapters of the Letter to Romans.  Or, the first six chapters of the Book of Isaiah.

The progression in self-awareness, I call it.

It starts out with that scathing commentary of morally devoid society around us.

THOSE people.

The ugly, mean, rotten people who well DESERVE their ugly, mean, rotten end.

Yea, we agree fully disgusted.  How can they do such things??? Those politicians.  Those leaders.  Those pastors. Those you-fill-in-the-blank.  Greedy liars and shameless cheats. Cowards and puppets.

Sadly, some of us never go beyond this point.  We spend our entire life always finding fault with somebody else - over there. 

But life doesn’t stop here. The progression keeps going on, towards all of us finger-pointing  know-it-alls, especially of the religious brand.

Butwho do YOU think YOU are? Don’t you realize that every time you point your accusing finger, three fingers are pointing back at you? When you judge others you by default judge yourself?

But, it’s so easy to see the speck in somebody else’s eye, and miss the boulder in my own.


And then comes the dawn of the day of enlightement, to quote again the grocery line philosopher:

OMG! WE are THOSE people!

Or, in the words of the prophet Isaiah,

Woe is me. We are all screwed!

I don’t know how this progression unfolds in a person’s soul.

It truly is a mystery.

I don’t know what kind of seismic shift it takes to move us from ‘those’ people to a ‘it’s us… ALL of us’. 

To ‘woe is me’. 

From demand for justice to plea for mercy... even as the world is swallowed up by a downward moral spiral? 

But, this shift somehow somewhere took place in the life of the woman in the supermarket.  

I don't know if she sees everything clearly yet, but I know that she doesn’t see people like trees anymore. And that’s a good first step – a very good step towards the Kingdom of God. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Lens of the World

Surprisingly enough, those who admit they haven’t arrived,  that they are not quite there yet, could be a lot closer to their desired destination than those who don’t.

For all of us half-blind fools, still groping, still seeing life, people, circumstances like crashing trees, Jesus reserves His second touch.

It’s like an eagerly awaited sequel following a nail-biting cliff hanger, the jagged story line suspended in mid-air.

A Part Two of sorts, of this half-baked miracle of our lives.

And He laid His hands again the second time… and the man looked intently…

The man looked up and stared.  

It may take some staring.  It will take some waiting and uncertainty.

Is He going to leave me hanging here, suspended in mid-air forever? Can I trust Him? Does He really love me? Does He even care?

And he stared some more until before his staring eyes the world finally started getting into focus.

… and his sight was restored to him and he saw everything clearly.

Our blind man got to see his own full-blown, HD miracle unfold before his eyes in all its unobtrusive divine glory.  
As it unfolded, the very first thing the blind man saw clearly was the human face of the Son of God.

His eyes. 

The eyes of the lamb soon to be led to the slaughtering block. 

His forehead,

Not yet


with thorns.

His lips, 

not yet 

parched with, 

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani.

And this Face became a lens through which the blind man begun to view the world.  

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. I  John 3:2,3

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Emancipation Proclamation

Isn’t it ironic that sometimes it takes a blind person to help us see our own distorted vision?

Do you see anything?, Jesus asks.

Weeeellll, yea… kind of… says the man.  Actually, to be honest with you, Jesus, we might have a little problem here.... Because... I do see people… except they don’t look like people at all.  They look more like the Ents…It's freaky.

Good job, Jesus…, mutters the blind man's friend sounding a lot like my fourteen year old. How’s this for an epic fail miracle?

I knew it was a bad idea all along, groans the other, I-told-you-so friend. You should have listened to me…

There is an unpalatable mixture of disappointment, pressure and the now-WHAT?

But the blind man seems to be delightfully oblivious, completely unconcerned about Jesus’ miracle working reputation.  

He has nothing to lose, no reputation to guard – his own or Jesus’.

So, he gets to be disarmingly honest.

Like that kid from the story Emperor’s New Clothes.  Everybody else was too preoccupied protecting the Emperor’s, and by proxy their own exposed behind. Everybody but the little boy – or a little girl, for it could have been a girl, for that matter – had something to lose, something to guard.

Ah the strange idiosyncrasies of adult world!

But, our blind man, perhaps because of his very blindness, was stripped off of all commonly engaged playacting, free to speak the simple truth as he saw it.

His honest statement became an emancipation proclamation of sort for all the still half-blind folks, like you and me.  

His statement forever liberating us from the tyranny of pretense, freeing us to admit that we are not there yet.

We are not as far along as we so desperately want you to believe...

We don't have it as together as we work so hard to appear... 

We haven’t arrived.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

I See People Like Trees

Some people who know me may argue to the contrary, but even though I’ve been wearing glasses most of my life, I never considered myself blind.

At least not until I heard Dick Lucas speak forth out of this odd ‘butchered miracle’ story recorded for us in the Gospel of Mark. 

I don’t know whether it was Dick Lucas or Saint Mark, but I do know that one moment I was safely cocooned in my blissful ‘seeing’ ignorance – clearly this blind person’s story has absolutely no relevance to my own life.

And the next - I was catapulted out.

The catapult came in the form of a simple question tagged onto the verse 24, spoken with the preacher’s unmistakable British accent.

I see men, for I see them like trees, walking about….  

Suppressed chuckles intersperse the audience.  Us, visual types, imagining the scene not much different from the one in the Two Towers, where the longsuffering Ents unleash their fury on Isengard.

There is a pause before he continues, as if each word must be carefully weighed on some invisible scale one more time before it is gently released: 

Do you…


…see people like…


Now his words are cascading like a rolling waterfall,

Perhaps, like logs? A roadblock or an obstacle… in your way… keeping you from doing what you want to do? From getting where you want to be?

The question lingers in the air well beyond the last syllable was spoken. It lingers until a holy hush settles on the room.

I don't remember much of what was said after.

All I know is that I was catapulted out of my comfortable ignorant blindness and forever welded to the blind man who saw people like trees. 

The way this servant of God unfolded it out before me, I realized... I see people like logs all the time.