Monday, January 27, 2014
"That's because it's dark . . . and there are no lights."
Sometimes the obvious can be so difficult to see or understand. I know people who have spent hours searching for their glasses, only to discover them on top of their head. We've all had moments like that. The sudden realization that we aren't quite as observant and we thought we were.
You've probably heard of Jeff Foxworthy and his "Here's Your Sign!" stories. They're pretty funny and sadly an all too true to life depiction of our ability to see the obvious. Here's a few.
A truck driver was climbing out of his too-tall truck that had become stuck under a too-low bridge. A police officer arriving on the scene asked, "So, are you stuck?" The truck driver replied, "No, I was just delivering this bridge and I ran out of gas." Here's your sign.
A fisherman was about to head home after a day's fishing from the pier. He pulled a large stringer of fish out of the water and a bystander asked, "Wow! Did you catch all those fish?" The fisherman replied, "Nah. Some of them just jumped right up here. The rest surrendered when they saw me comin'." Here's your sign. We humans can be incredibly blind when it comes to the obvious.
My wife and I went snowshoeing at the state park night before last. It was a cool, clear night with temperatures in the single digits. My wife remarked, "Look at all the stars!!" She was right. The stars were extraordinarily noticeable that night. However I could just imagine hearing one of our city friends exclaiming, "Wow! You have a lot more stars out here than we have in town."
No. The stars are always there. Even in town. Even in the day time. You just can't see them at night in the city because of all the city lights." (sigh)
For 52 years of my life I was blind. Blind to the reality of Christ. I had heard all of the stories. And that's just what they were to me. Stories. There was no meaning to them at all. I just didn't get it.
I'd like you to watch a short video clip. It's from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams. I'd like you to pay particular attention to the character played by Timothy Busfield (the guy with red hair and a beard). In this scene, Busfield's character, Mark, does not believe there is a team of old, dead baseball players in his brother-in-laws yard, even though everyone else around him does. He doesn't believe it until something happens. Please watch.
Field of Dreams clip
Near the end of the clip Mark says, "When did these ballplayers get here?" Well what do yo know. Mark finally believed. But it took a miracle, one of the young ball players being transformed right before his eyes, before he finally came to believe. At that moment, Mark, who had been tormenting his sister and her husband for the entire film to sell the farm, did a 180. His eyes were opened. Where have I heard that story before . . .
"Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord - Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here - has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength." - Acts 9:1-19
There are many people in this world who do not KNOW Jesus. They have heard about him but do not believe in Him. Many of the non-believers enjoy persecuting Christians today just like Saul did back then. When Saul became Paul on that road to Damascus his life changed for ever. He was blind and then suddenly he could see. That account of Saul's conversion is the tale of every born again believer the world has ever known. And what did Paul do with this sudden knowledge? He began to spread the Gospel to everyone he met. It's like he handed himself a Jeff Foxworthy sign for his stupidity in not recognizing the truth. It's like Timothy Busfield's character saying, "When did all these Christians, my new brothers and sisters, get here? And what about the men who were with Saul/Paul. They heard the voice! They helped a blind Paul into town where he was made to see!
Go outside on some clear night and look up at the stars. Gaze at them in wonder. Look at God's immeasurably vast, heavenly creation and thank The God of all of it for opening YOUR eyes. Then preach the Gospel wherever you go for you once were blind but now you see.
Amazing Grace by Celtic Woman