Understanding the Pain


Throughout the generations, we have all read or heard some profound words from some amazing individuals…

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“My story is a freedom song of struggle.  It is about finding one’s purpose, how to overcome fear and to stand up for causes bigger than one’s self.” – Coretta Scott King.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success” – Henry Ford.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

Each one of these quotes muster a sense of deep understanding, a sense that there is more to life than what exists in the realm of our eyes.  When we read these quotes, we begin to realize that life is more than what we live, it is who we impact, how we progress forward and ultimately, who or what we place our faith and trust in.

Many of us, for years, have placed our trust, our faith in things that don’t last.  We work hard at our careers only to find out that we have lost our family.  We hold onto our savings to the point of hording, only to succumb to a death, realizing we can’t take it with us.  We hold onto our children, so tightly, that they rebel and fight us because we suffocate them with pressures that do not exist in reality.  We identify ourselves with our spouses, only to lose ourselves when they leave us, whether by divorce or by death.  We hang onto our health, eating the right foods, exercising daily only to find out that cancer has overcome our bodies and we only have a short time to live.

But there is one passage I read that has a profound impact on my life.  It is not a quote from a famous individual or a passage from some scroll found in a cave.  It is a simple two word verse from one of the most famous stories in Scripture….

“Jesus wept.” – John 11:35

These seem like simple words, words without much impact, but I would argue that these two words show not just the humanity of Jesus Christ but also the deity of Jesus Christ as well.  Here is a bit of background that led up to these words…

Imagine for a moment, you were living in ancient Israel.  You had heard of this man called Jesus but were not sure what to make of him. The religious teachers called him a blasphemer and heretic, some called him a madman and yet some followed him, learning from his teaching.  You had heard that recently Jesus had healed a blind man, who was blind from birth.  It was said that as he looked toward the man, he had compassion on him.  You had also heard that his followers were asking, “Who sinned, him or his parents?”  Yet in all this, Jesus still had compassion on this man.  He had so much compassion; he healed the man and now that same man who had never seen anything but darkness, now could see the light surrounding him.  Yet even though this was the story, the religious leaders still called him names and wished him dead.  Something didn’t make sense.  How could a man heal so vibrantly, especially someone who appeared to have suffered from either his sin or his parents sin.

Then you heard that Jesus responded to his followers, “Neither this man, nor his parents.  But this was done to show the glory of God.”  How could this be?  We were taught from a very young age, that if someone was sick, born blind or had leprosy, there was apparent sin in their life or they were suffering from past sins.  Didn’t the Scriptures say, “I will repay the wicked to the third generation?”  So how could a man claim such a thing?  Maybe the religious leaders were right?  Maybe this Jesus was really a madman.  So what was the truth?

Just as you pondered these things, you way Him, Jesus.  He didn’t look any different than anyone else.  He wasn’t necessarily taller than anyone else, nor was he anymore good looking that all the others.  He looked ordinary.  He did not have the eyes of a madman, nor did he appear to be deity.  Still, there was something about Him that drew many.  Finally, you were going to hear the words of this controversial figure.  Just as you approached to hear his words, a woman rushes in.  She appears to be in tears.  She says to Jesus, “Your friend Lazarus is sick and needs you right away.”  His response was odd.  It was if he didn’t care.  He told the messenger, “The sickness will not end in death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  Did you hear it right?  The messenger said, “Your friend is sick.”  It seemed like Jesus was just brushing off the fact his friend was sick, really sick.

Two days later, as you were listening to Jesus teach, you ask yourself, “I wonder what ever happened to Jesus’ friend?”  It is then you hear Jesus proclaim, “Lazarus is dead.”  He let His friend die?  You heard him say that his friend’s sickness would not end in death.  You think to yourself, “He must be a liar or a madman.”  But you decide to follow Him and listen to Him anyway.  Maybe there are some teachings you could benefit from.

As you follow Him, Jesus approaches the city of Bethany.  By this time, Lazarus is already dead four days.  To you, as a Jew, this means that Lazarus’ death is final.  He is truly gone.  As you approach the crowds, you notice the women consoling two other women.  They must have been Lazarus’ relatives.  They looked pretty young and you realize that Lazarus was also young.  You notice Jesus talks with one of the two women who were being consoled.  He appears as if He was consoling her as well.

Jesus is then led to the tomb where Lazarus’ body was laid.  At first, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”  At this point, you have determined this Jesus was a madman and a liar but now He is claiming to be God?  Only God could resurrect the dead.  But you notice something.  You notice Jesus’ voice isn’t as strong as it was before.  You then see him do something; men shouldn’t do in your culture.  Jesus weeps.  He just doesn’t cry.  He truly loved this man.  Jesus felt the pain of loss, the pain of suffering.  He reacts the same way you have.  Jesus weeps.  And in that weeping He staggers to say, “Roll away the stone.”

This Jesus really believes He can raise the dead?  Does this Jesus really believe that He is God?  The impact of watching Jesus weep for His friend brings you to a point of interest.  Now is the time for Jesus to prove who He claims to be.  Does He prove Himself to be a madman or a liar?  Lazarus is dead and Jesus claimed this wouldn’t end in death.  What will happen?

You notice a large stone you could pick up and hide, just in case Lazarus stays dead.  For if Lazarus stays dead and this man claimed to be God, you have the authority to stone him for blasphemy.  You hide the stone in your cloak and watch at a close distance.  After Jesus finishes weeping, you hear Him exclaim, “Lazarus!  Come out!”

Immediately, a rumbling happens inside the tomb.  Was it an animal that got in there?  Then you see what others said was impossible.  A figure of a man comes forth, waddling, trying to get the rags off of him?  Lazarus was alive!  How is that possible?  How is it that a dead man, who was dead for four days, whose soul left this place to enter eternity, is walking and breathing again?  At that moment, Jesus hugs his friend, turns around and looks at you with a smile.  It’s as if He can see to the very center of your being.  You have only one response.  The stone you held is dropped.  You rush to his feet, bow down and say, “Savior, forgive me.”

So what changed you?  What was it that brought you to this point?  The beginning of the journey seeing Jesus have compassion on someone, then it was His radical claims, leading up to this pivotal point.  Jesus wept for his friend.  He showed His humanity by allowing Himself to feel as we do when we lose someone.  He wept because He felt loss.

The last couple of weeks have been very tough.  The compassion I have felt for my wife’s friend as her husband was killed doing his job.  The remembering of my friend, who now is in glory, yet still hurting as I remember the suffering I witnessed.  Last evening, I witnessed my 90 year old neighbor slip away into eternity and even this morning, I was told of a friend of the family who lost their life to a possible heart attack.  Yet, I take hold of the two words John wrote – Jesus wept.

I now understand that Jesus felt the same things I do.  He felt loss just like me.  He felt compassion on others who are also mourning.  He wept just like I do.  But unlike Jesus, there are times I feel hopeless.  Hopeless because there is nothing I can do when I lose someone.  I can’t raise them from the dead.  I can’t talk with them anymore.  All I can do is weep, just like Jesus.  But even though Jesus wept like us, He never felt hopeless.  He knew what He was there for…to ensure God is glorified.  This is where His deity is displayed.

Jesus claimed that Lazarus’ sickness would not end in death.  He also claimed to be God with the ability to resurrect the dead.  He claimed to be the holder of life.  And all of this was proven positive.  Lazarus was raised from the dead.  His sickness did not end in death.  In fact, Lazarus’ death was necessary.  It was Jesus who allowed Lazarus to die in order that He might glorify God and show who He really is.  As life and death are in the hands of God, the sheer fact that Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead shows Jesus is God.  It was in this act that Jesus proved he was 100% man and yet 100% God.

I think we forget sometimes that Jesus felt what we felt.  He felt compassion, loss and pain.  He willingly suffered and died so that we might have a way back to God.  Yet in all this, Jesus again proved His deity by rising from the dead.  He did this for you and I because He has compassion and love for us.

I don’t’ know this for sure, but I would suspect that Jesus cries for those who don’t accept Him as Savior.  I’d like to think that he momentarily cries when His creation rejects Him and once they die, He has to send them to an eternal place without Him, hell.

However, for now as you are reading this, this means you are still alive and have a chance to cry out to Him.  If you cry out to Him, He will respond.  If you cry out to Him, He will save.  Jesus does not want any to suffer.  His desire is that everyone comes to know Him as Savior.  So why not?!  Just give your life to Jesus and He will prove to you not only does He have the ability to save, but that He rejoices in that same work.

What other proof do you require?  He showed his humanity by weeping and His deity by controlling life and death.  Call on Him and you will be saved.

God bless and encourage someone today.

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The Shadow of Death


He awoke with sudden shock which made his hands shake, his heart race and nausea filled his stomach.  As he tried to gain his composure, his mind raced with possibilities.  Where was he?  What happened?  How did he get here?  With every possible answer, came another question and with every question, fear entered his mind.

In order to attempt composure, he remembered songs that his mother had sung when he was a little boy.  Every night, his mother would sit at his bedside and make up songs about the day.  She sang soft and sweet.  Every song, a lullaby.  Every note, a soothing agent.  No matter how bad or good his day went, she always sang with her gentle, soothing voice.  Even the angriest of animals would be lulled to sleep when she sang.

Once he was ready to sleep, she would sing her last note and say, “Goodnight my David.  Remember, Jesus never sleeps.”

“Jesus never sleeps”, David thought.  Unfortunately, this gave no consolation to his current predicament.  He knew his eyes were open, but nothing could be seen.  Neither height, nor depth, nor width of his surroundings were known to him.  Darkness enveloped his very being.  All he knew, was when he stretched out his hands, no walls or ceiling were present.  Only the floor was detected, a dirt floor with some small rocks.  Again, the thoughts raced, “Where am I?  How did I get here?  Am I blind?”  The unknown became the messenger of fear.  The more his realization of the unknown, the more he feared.

“Hello!” David cried.  “Is anyone out there?  Help!”

No answer came.  Only the echo of his own voice.  Again David cried out, “HELP!  I can’t see!  Anyone, please help me.”

Frozen with fear, David felt he couldn’t move because he couldn’t see.  If he moved, how would he know where to go?  Would he fall?  What if something attacked him?  How would he defend himself without sight?  His fears became so great that his mind tortured his soul with such force that his body responded with paralysis.

Moments later, he heard a voice, “David.  Are you there?”

David thought to himself, “I must be hearing things.”

The voice came a second time, “David.  Are you there?”

Knowing, beyond doubt, David cried out, “Yes! I’m here!  Help me!”

“Follow my voice.  It’s the only way!”

David thought, “How can I follow a voice?  What if they bring me deeper into this place?  What if this is a trap?”  Gaining some composure, David yelled, “How can I trust you?”

“Follow my voice.  It’s the only way”, the voice said a second time.

“But how can I trust you?”

“Follow my voice.  It’s the only way.”

Although David knew he didn’t have many options, he also understood that following this voice may be the only way to survive.  With extreme caution, David bent down on his hands and knees and began his journey crawling in the direction he thought the voice was coming from.

“That’s it David, crawl toward me”, the voice exclaimed.

While David continued his crawl, he realized the voice had exclaimed something extraordinary.  The voice knew he was crawling.  He couldn’t see anything or anyone, so how did the voice know he was on his hands and knees?  David began to fear again.  What if this voice was leading him away from the exit?  Would there be enough air for him to breathe?  Suddenly, David stopped and sat with his legs crossed, as he didn’t know what was around him.

“Why did you stop, David?”

“How did you know I stopped?”

“David, follow my voice.  It’s the only way.”

David didn’t know what to do.  Was he to continue his journey or sit there and wonder how he would survive this ordeal?  Almost instantaneously, David remembered something else his mother had done with him as a child; she held his hand until he fell asleep.  Every night she sang, his mother would also hold his hand as if to reassure him that everything was going to be okay.   Her tender touch would bring his mind to ease and his heart to calm.

“David, follow my voice.  It’s the only way”, the voice said again and again.  Every few minutes the voice would reach out and call to David to start his journey again.  Over and over, the voice called to him, sometimes loud, sometimes soft.  It was then David began to analyze the voice.  It was a soothing, soft man’s voice.  It was as if the voice understood his feelings and gently called out to David.  The times which were louder, David felt that the voice wanted a response.  The softer times, the voice just wanted to let him know it was still there.

After thinking of his mother, he decided to continue his journey on all fours once again.  David propped himself to the awkward position and began to travel toward the voice once more.  It was then David noticed his hands and knees began to hurt.  Rawness started to encroach on his flesh.  Movement led to pain and pain to fear.  Suddenly, David felt moisture on his hands and knees.  He didn’t hear water so could only assume the crawl had taken a toll on him.  He feared he was starting to bleed.  David didn’t understand why this was happening to him or why.

The voice cried out, “David.  Get up and walk.  It’s the only way.”

David got up as if to say, “I trust you”.  Although attempting to stand bore more pain, a different kind of pain, he knew the voice was right.  From his crawl position, he was able to get to his feet.  After a moment of stretching his muscles into proper position, he started to take his first steps.

Each step was more daunting than the next.  He wasn’t sure how to walk in the dark as like most people, rely on sight to accomplish this task.  With each step he stumbled.  Left in front of right and right in front of left was the mantra he repeated to himself.  Every so often, he would fall from a loose rock or dizziness.  He would then hear the voice and get back up and continue the journey step by step.

Without warning, he saw a white dot in the distance.  What was it?  Could it be?  A sliver of light appeared in front of him.  When he saw the light, it changed his mentality and attitude.  He realized that fear was gone and pain was diminishing.  It was then he heard, “David, continue toward the light.  It’s the only way.”

David wanted to run and even tried.  However, when he ran, he would fall causing pain and fear to reenter into his body, mind and soul.  He decided that walking was the better of choices.  At least he would only stumble occasionally.  With every step, the light grew and when the light grew, so did hope.  David knew the end of his journey was in sight, or so he thought.

Suddenly, David took one wrong step and fell.  His fall was not like the others.  He fell on his back and slid hard and fast.  As he slid, he tried to stop but could not.  Finally, he slowed down and came to a stop.  As he rolled over to prop himself up, he looked around and didn’t see the light.  What had happened?  Did he slide that far back?  Fear and pain began to grow while he felt hope was lost.  He sat down once again and cried.

“David, follow my voice.  It’s the only way”, the voice called out.

Like before, the voice called out over and over again as if to motivate David to continue his journey.  This time, David did not wallow in fear and pain.  He called back, “Okay, I’ll try again.”

The voice said, “When I tell you, reach to your left.”

David didn’t understand what the voice meant, but since the voice brought him to the light, he figured the voice knew something he didn’t.  David continued his slow journey step by step.  This time he didn’t stumble as much.  He barely tripped or fell.  After what seemed like hours, David heard the voice call to him once again, “Reach to your left”.

Trusting the voice, David reached out with this left hand and slowly moved it toward his left, circling up and down attempting to grasp at whatever may have been there.   At that moment, it felt like, something brushed his fingers.  He wasn’t sure, got on his knees and reached out with both hands.  After a few minutes of flailing his arms in front of him, David gripped the object that brushed his hand.  To his surprise, the object felt braided and course.  It was a rope.  He gripped the rope with both hands and raised himself to his feet.

As he held the rope, he looked up and saw the light again.  This time, it was bigger than ever.  It appeared to be almost the size of a full moon on a clear summer night.  David then realized his journey was going to end.  Once again, fear and pain seemed to be swept away by the freedom of hope.

David started to reflect on this journey and realized one question remained, how did he get there to begin with?  He remembered hiking in the woods and pitching his tent.  He remembered the fire he created to keep warn and cook some food.  He remembered falling asleep and waking up to a noise outside of his tent.  He remembered wanting to fall back asleep but kept tossing and turning due to the anxiety he felt from the forest noises.

As he continued to climb, he thought to himself, “Maybe this is a dream?  Maybe this isn’t real.”  He continued to rummage through various thoughts and scenarios in an effort to answer his questions.  However, just as before, no answer came.  It was then David realized that he hadn’t heard the voice in a while.  He stopped climbing to rest and catch his breath.  David then shouted, “Voice, are you still there?”

No answer came.

“Voice”, he said a second time, “Are you still there?”

Again, no answer came.

David mumbled, “I knew you would leave me.  Everyone else has.”  As David wallowed in his state of loneliness, he realized that the light was not only peering but also exposing his surroundings.  David looked around and noticed he was surrounded by dirt and rocks.  David realized he was in a cave.  He also noticed that a small, shallow body of water was within reach.  It was then David realized how thirsty he was.  As the feeling of thirst grew, David willed himself to his feet and began to walk toward the body of water.  Then David heard something strange, it was running water.

Bending down, he dipped his hands into the body of water and took a long drink.  He had hoped the water was not contaminated but without thinking, he drank the water until his thirst was satisfied.  After a few more minutes of rest, David felt that he needed to continue to leave this place, this cave of fear and pain.  He rose from his spot, walked over to the rope and continued his climb.

What seemed like days later, David was able to let go of the rope.  The incline became flat.  David realized his journey was about to end.  He could now see the outside world.  Hope then became belief.  David now knew he was about to leave this cave of fear and pain.  As David reached the opening to the cave, he heard the voice once again, “David.  Welcome to my fields.”

David looked around but didn’t see anyone.  He responded, “Where are you?”

“I am here, but you cannot see me right now”, the voice exclaimed.  “Listen to my words and obey my commands.”

David wasn’t sure if he wanted to listen or obey but decided to respond rather harshly, “You left me!  I was alone in there and you left me.  I cried out to you but you did not respond.  Why?”

The voice responded, “Who was it that led you to the light?  Who was it that led you to the rope?  Who was it that placed you there?  Who was it that subdued your fear and pain?”

David couldn’t respond.  He lowered his head feeling weakness and shame.  David then recognized, the voice had been with him the entire journey.  While David sulked with shame and disbelief, the voice said, “My son, don’t feel shame or disbelief.  You followed my voice.  You followed my light.  Well done.  Now I have something else for you to do.  Look behind you.”

David lifted his head and slowly turned around.  He saw a torch, some food and a container to hold water on a large boulder.  As he walked toward the items on the boulder, the voice said to him, “Take those items and go back into the cave.  There search the cave and look for others who have heard my voice or seen my light.  Help them on their journey.  Encourage them that the end is near.  Teach them about the rope, how to trust in the voice and light and not to worry about the ‘what if’ thoughts.  Lead them out of the cave and into this field.”

David looked up and asked, “But how will I know who they are?  How many are there?  Why did you place us there?”  Questions ravaged his mind.  He was confused as to what had really happened.

“David”, the voice said, “Do you remember last night when you cried out to me?  When you asked me to help you out of your problems?”

Suddenly, David remembered that just before he fell asleep, he cried out to God asking him for help.  He didn’t want to waste his life and wanted a new direction.  It was then David realized who he was talking to.

“Lord, forgive my doubt”, David responded.

With a sense of compassion, the voice said to David, “Do not worry about how many or why.  All I ask is that you do what I commanded you.  Others need you.  I need you.  Therefore, go and enter the cave.  Help others believe.”

David gripped the items on the boulder.  He approached the opening to the cave and lit the torch.  One last question plagued his mind, “How will I know when my task is done?”

The voice responded, “When you see Me, then you will be finished.”

“When will I see you?” asked David.

“When you are finished”, the voice responded.

David realized every answer had a question, but not every question deserved an answer.              As he entered the mouth of the cave, he saw an inscription on the wall.  The inscription said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.”  David then remembered the words of his mother, “Jesus never sleeps.”  With comfort on his mind and with a sigh of anticipation, David entered the cave and searched for others that were like him.  Those that are afraid.  Those that are hurting.  Those who have no hope.  As David found others, he would tell them about his journey, his struggles and his discoveries.  He would remind them about the voice and show them the light.  David now lived the journey that once overtook him with fear and pain.  Finally, David understood that this life was not about him.  It was about finding and helping others to see the Light and hear the voice of God.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been give to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Jesus Christ.  (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

God Bless and encourage someone today.

From the Darkness…


Coldness surrounded her without compassion.  As she opened her eyes, darkness surrounded her, like a cloth smothering life itself.  Why she felt the pressure of fear and terror, she couldn’t understand.

Around her felt cold and wet.  Sounds that placed fear in the souls of men overwhelmed her ears.  Creaking, stepping and scratching could be heard all around.  It was as if nails were carving out the walls as if trying to escape the horror.

“Why is it so dark and cold?” she asked herself.  She didn’t understand where she was or why she was there.

Her surroundings started to feel tight.  Walls closing in at a slow pace and without escape.  The floor and ceiling started to collapse around her.  Fear and terror overcame her emotions.

“Why is this happening to me?” she cried out.  “Help! Someone help me!”

The pressure from above, below and sides crushed not only her mind and soul but her body as well.  If that wasn’t bad enough, drips of water collided with her head.  One by one they smashed her head as if mocking her, torturing her, beating her into submission.

“Help”, she again cried with vigor and fear.  “Someone help me!”

Hours felt like months, days like years and yet her situation never changed.  Darkness, coldness, wetness and terror spent adequate time with her.  She fought and fought, but the more she struggled, the less she could move.  Tighter and tighter her surroundings became.  What was she to do?  How was she to escape?

“Help me, please”, she cried with less vigor and hopelessness.  “Please someone, anyone!”  However, no one ever came.  No one ever heard.

She could feel something move by her feet.  “What was that?!” she cried.  It was as if something or someone else was there, beneath her.  Back and forth, she could feel the thing moving.  “Stop it and leave me alone!”, she exclaimed.  However, the thing continued.  Creeping under her, torturing her mind, tormenting her soul.  Why wouldn’t it leave her alone?

Time passed.  How much, she could not be sure of.  It could have been days, weeks or months but she would never know.  Every moment she stood, never laying down to rest.  Sleep was being deprived by the constant dripping of water on her head.  Even if she tried, she couldn’t sleep.  Not even a short rest was possible.

Then she heard the thing again.  This time it was beside her.  Scratching past her while it passed, the thing never said a word.  “What is it you want?  Why won’t you leave me alone?”, she yelled out.  Crying and struggling to catch her breath, she wept, “Please someone, please help me.”  But no help ever came and no one heard her voice.

One day, she heard a voice say, “Now it is time…” but the rest of the words seemed to be hidden.  “Now it is time?”, she questioned in her mind.  What time?  What did the voice mean?

A few moments later she heard, “Come on out and…” but the rest of the words she couldn’t understand.  She thought to herself, “How can I come out when I cannot move?”  She struggled with the hope and anticipation of hearing the voice speak.  Suddenly, movement surrounded her.  Fear overtook her once again.  It was then she decided to act upon the voice’s words.

She began to move.  Pain took over.  Her body started to fall apart.  The more she moved, the more she felt like something tearing her apart.  Her legs ached, her arms numb.  Now what was she supposed to do?

Suddenly, the dripping water changed.  This time, the drips became a stream.  The small stream was refreshing.  As it poured down her face, she stuck out her tongue to gain some refreshment.  She drank and drank all she could.

Within a few minutes, the refreshing fluids stopped and she could instantly feel strength capture her once again.  She moved her arms and legs once again, except this time with vigor and hope.

In a single moment, she realized she could move both her legs and arms without hindrance.  She began to claw her way.  She felt the walls.  They were soft and moist.  She started to rip away at the walls.  When she realized more room was available, she decided to reach for the ceiling.  It was then she realized it was moist and soft, like the walls.  Hope turned into strength as she pounded her way through the ceiling.

Suddenly, a light peered through the ceiling, like a laser beam steadily pointing in a single direction.  “I’m almost free!”, she exclaimed.  As the light became larger, her struggle became lessened.  It was then she could feel the warmth.  It felt good.  Blanketing her, hugging her entire being.  It was then her strength turned to peace.

Finally, after days of digging and struggle, she felt a wetness overcome her.  Pounding her, beating her as if to push her back into captivity, she struggled all the more.  She refused to go back.  She refused to succumb to the pressure of the water.  “I will not go back!”, she exclaimed with anger.  Her resolve continued as the water pounded.  The warmth of the light continued while the water pushed but she would not give up.

The water stopped its beating and the light continued to nourish and provide warmth.  She enjoyed where she was but realized there was still more to do.  She began to once again to dig her way out.  She planted her feet firmly on the ground, and moved her arms once again to free herself from her confinement.

As she pushed the last of the ceiling away, she could see the source of the light.  It was a big round object in the sky.  Then the voice said, “You see, I have given you life.”

“Who are you?” she asked.

“I am your Creator.  You will give pleasure to the one whom I have given you.”, the voice said.

As she reached for the object creating the light, she tried to free her legs, however she could not.  The more she struggled, the more it took hold of her.  She cried out, “I am not free yet.  Please help me get free.”

The voice then said, “But my dear, you are free.  Your legs are to stay where they are as they will help you in your quest.  Only until you are fully grown will your legs be no longer needed.”

What did the voice mean?  She then looked around her.  It was then she noticed her arms were green.  She felt her face and it was soft.  She asked, “What am I, voice?”

The voice responded, “Your name is Rose.  You will give pleasure to the one who picks you.  Your fragrance will please the hearts and minds of men.”

She thought and thought.  Then why the struggle, why the torture?  She asked, “Why did I feel trapped and afraid?”

The voice said, “Oh Rose.  You weren’t trapped or tortured.  I placed you there.  I gave you water to help you grow.  Although you felt scared and afraid, I was watching over you, caring for you, giving you exactly what you need.”

It was then Rose felt contentment.  She understood the pain was the only way for her to experience the benefits she now had.  Warmth from the sun and nourishment from the water were the only things she needed.  The voice had given her everything she needed, even though it hurt.

Like the rose, we struggle to get out of our pains and hurts.  We cry out and no one answers.  We dig but cannot move.  Remember the Voice knows and will supply everything we need.  It is only through the struggle do we realize our worth in the arms of God.

God bless and encourage someone today.

The Darkness of Sight (Starting Out Life Right Pt. 3)


Have you ever had an experience that overwhelmed your mind?  What about your senses?  A number of years ago, I was driving from one service call to another.  The traffic was normal and I was able to do just above the speed limit.  As I drove, I was listening to various preachers talk about reaching those who need Christ.  During this time, I started to think about my life prior to knowing Christ.

I was young when I met Christ and never experienced an adult life without Him.  The doubt started and I wondered what it would be like to be a non-Christian.  How could I understand the mindset of those who haven’t had Christ most of their lives?  I wanted to know what it was like.

As I drove down the highway, I turned off my radio and prayed, “Lord, please allow me to see as those who don’t know you see.”  Almost immediately, it was as if I could no longer see the road ahead.  Here I am, driving 60mph and couldn’t see.  I felt blinded and could only know what was only a few feet in front of me.

When I asked God for His protection, my sight came back fully.  It was only for a minute or so, but I suddenly understood the mind of those who don’t know Christ.

Romans 4:4 says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (NIV)

During my “blinding” experience, I realized that those who don’t know Christ cannot see and when we cry out to God for help, He is willing and able to do what we cannot accomplish.  Only God can allow us to see Him.  Only God can take our blindness and give us sight.

John 9 talks about a situation where a blind man receives his sight and the ramifications that came along with it.  First, the disciples see this blind man, who had been blind from birth and asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents?”  Isn’t it amazing that instead of asking Jesus to heal the man, the disciples immediately assumed this man or his parents had sinned.  They thought, “If someone had a disability, either they or their parents sinned.”  However, this was not the case.

Jesus responded, “Neither this man or his parents sinned…”  So why did God allow this man to be blind all his life?  Think about it.  Here is a man who could not contribute to society.  All his life, he probably heard people say, “I wonder what his parents did?” or “I wonder what he did to make God upset?”  It was no surprise for this man to hear what the disciples said.  What probably came as a surprise was what Jesus said next.

“…but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

Suddenly, this man heard that God allowed him to be blind in order to show others that God exists and loves those who respond to His calling.  AMAZING!!!  There was no sin.  There was no accident.  There was no scientific possibilities   Simply, God allowed him to be blind to work in his life.

How many times do was ask God to take away or problems, illnesses or circumstances?  The last time you and I suffered, did we ask God to take our situation away from us?  The story that keeps coming to mind is my friend Peter.  God allowed him to suffer greatly.  God allowed him to experience abuse, loss and extreme pain.  Yet during his last days, he was on fire for God.  God was able to use his painful experiences and painful circumstances to bring others to Christ.  It was in Peter’s weakness that God showed His mercy to others.  But the story doesn’t end there.

This blind man was healed and then experienced another aspect of God working in his life…persecution and disbelief.  The religious leaders of his day found out he was healed and wanted to know more.  When they asked him when he was healed, they realized it was the Sabbath (a holy day that required no one to work).  According to the religious leaders, anyone who worked on the Sabbath must not be from God.  They thought that the traditions of religiosity out weighed the actual healing.  Over a few different times of questioning, they threw this man out of the synagogue.

So for a moment, here is a man who was not a part of society, gained his sight and wanted to be a part of society but was kicked out of the synagogue which meant he was no longer part of society again.  How would you feel?  If I were him, I would probably be angry and depressed.  I would want to try and figure out why God gave me my sight back only to take what I thought was my life, away again.  Jesus had a solution.

When Jesus heard about the man’s situation, he approached him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  Basically, Jesus wanted to know if this man believed in Him.  Unlike many others, Jesus healed this man prior to his believing in Jesus.  God gave him the gift of sight without requiring him to believe in Jesus.  That was why Jesus asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

This man answered, “Who is he, sir?  Tell me so that I may believe in him.”  This man wanted to know who Christ was.  He desired to know who the Messiah was.  Jesus responded with the greatest surprise of all.  Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”  WHAT A GREAT RESPONSE!  WHAT A GREAT SURPRISE!  It was then the man worshiped Christ.  But did you notice what Jesus actually said?

Jesus didn’t focus on the man’s prior disabilities   He focused on what God had done for him.  Jesus then revealed Himself to this man to call him into a relationship with God.

The same holds true for us today.  Sometimes, God uses painful circumstances to work in our lives.  When we come out of those experiences and tell others, we are ridiculed and told (sometimes by Christians) how un-Christian-like it is to think or do what God has called us to proclaim.  Yet through all of this, Jesus reminds us of what God has done in order to bring us closer to Him.

In our life, we should not focus on our negative past, nor should we worry about what others think.  The only part of life we need to be concerned about is that Jesus loves us, died for us, healed us and wants us to tell others that we have been healed.  Unfortunately, we have a tendency to become angry or depressed because life isn’t going our way.  What we need to do is focus our attention on our relationship with God.  This way, He can help us see clearly the path He has for our lives.

Don’t allow the darkness of physical sight to blind us.  Allow God to remove that blindness and enter into a closer relationship with God.  Only Jesus can heal us, but no matter where we are in life, He will use our disabilities for His purposed and glory.

God bless and encourage someone today.