Today’s Readings (Acts 14:1-18, John 10:31-42)
I was reading today’s reading in Acts, “Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.” This was after the unbelieving Jews had “poisoned minds against the brothers”. This caused a division between the Jews and the apostles. To avoid being stoned, the apostles fled to Lystra and Derbe.
In the reading of John, Jesus is about to be stoned by the Jews because Jesus is proclaiming himself to be the Son of God. ”… If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Jesus escaped through their hands across the Jordan to where John had been baptizing. Many came to Jesus and many believed him there.
As I was reading of the man who had not walked, I wondered in ancient times how many would have an expectation to try to walk. Would there have just been a sense of hopelessness? Depression was not a word used or understood except maybe by a persistent parent knowing instinctively they would not be around always to protect their child. This may lead a parent to think, “What skills can I help enable this child with? God help show me the way.” That parent would prayerfully, hopefully and lovingly help that child become confident in skills that would empower the child into adulthood. That would be a very innovative parent. Paul preaches about the innovative parent, God, who brings this faith and hope to stand on. It is wobbly and questioning to have faith on this invisible God who delivers messages in the most audacious ways. I too must lean on others to stabilize myself at times, but that hope and faith with others helps me walk straight again. “Love thy neighbor” starts with care of self to help love of neighbor. Ask for help. “Take what you need, give what you can.”
Metaphorically speaking, just as Jesus decided to cross the river Jordan, instinctively I believe we want to and need to cross to sides of roads, rivers, paths. In doing so, we too are dodging the traffic. We don’t really have a choice in life, life is going to put hard obstacles in our path to dodge. Some are soft obstacles and some obstructions will try to knock us to the ground. Some of those obstructions are cruel and are trying to keep us from standing. One of those obstacles, whether we see it coming or not, will be in God’s time. It will be meant to keep us from crossing the street because God has another plan. Until then, we have others through our Triune God to help us stand again and cross what we need to cross.
It is our choice to get back up and how we get back up and cross the road that is essential to our soul. I have seen animals including one unknown human man hit by vehicles. Most, including the human, made it to the other side of the road. The man who was racing across traffic, was hit, thrown on top of hood of the car then the pavement. He quickly stood up and ran to median as if his brain never stopped thinking of his goal. He died in the median as strangers ran to his aid. Sirens wailing in the background. He was not alone.
My answer now to my therapist regarding how I am feeling after a session is, “I still want to get to the other side of the street.” In other words, I am going to cross the Jordan to where the believers are, to the people that feed my soul.
May God Bless the unknown man. Amen