Walking through the Douglasville Mall, with my shopping bag sitting on my walker, and Larry beside me, we made our way towards the cinema last night. We had sipped coffee while waiting for the 9:55 showing, and now we still had a few minutes left to take our time.
A young teenage boy approached us pointing at my walker. His name was Zack, and he wanted to know what medical condition was causing me to walk with difficulty. I gave him a simple explanation, a lesion on my spine, transverse myelitis, and he asked if he could pray for me. Looking into his eyes, I could see the kind of faith I knew God uses to work miracles, and it took me by surprise, seeing that I had been engrossed in my doctors' recent diagnoses of a life-time crippling condition that would never get any better. The concurring diagnoses clashed with my faith, and I have written quite a bit about that. When given a choice between believing a doctor's practiced estimate, or my faith in a miracle working Jesus, I choose faith hands down. Doctors are human. Jesus is God.
Zack prayed with us, and I was refreshingly shocked to find he was a Baptist... though I shouldn't have been. Many different denominations believe in healing now. We went on our way, but I haven't forgotten the light in his eyes. He had the love of God in his eyes. And, I haven't forgotten that a complete stranger asked to pray with me. That's a reassuring feeling.
For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. Psalm 139:13 This verse gives us the idea that God is in control of our central nervous system: the brain, spine, and system of nerve impulses throughout the body. The ancient Hebrews attributed this power of control to the kidneys, as in an essential organ, or the mind of a person. God created our central nervous system. He can heal the spine and repair nerve damage. He can heal paralysis. He covered our internal vital organs in our mother's womb with our skin and external body tissue. There is no part of our human body that is outside His control, and power to heal. I believe in miracles. I'm expecting. I see it with my Father's eyes.
"After your first day of cycling, one dream is inevitable. A memory of motion lingers in the muscles of your legs, and round and round they seem to go. You ride through Dreamland on wonderful dream bicycles that change and grow." -H. G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance
Yes, that describes well the euphoria you feel when riding a bicycle, the first time or anytime. I may have begun to lose weight, but cycling quickly becomes an obsession you can't shake. I was soon getting in so many miles a week, between the local cycling club, and the state rides, that I found myself never needing to ride alone anymore. By late July, the thermometer hit the triple digits in our area that year, which is not uncommon. July and early August usually mean soaring temperatures for us in the northern temperate zones. These are the hottest, most sultry days of summer... the "Dog Days" of summer.
We also use the expression Dog Days to describe a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant, or marked by a dull lack of progress. Seeing that the Dog Days were heating up, that friday night was the yearly Dog Days Lunar Bike Ride at Mt. Berry Mall there in Rome. That event is one of a kind, with all ages and experience level of cyclists participating. I arrived a few minutes early, to see a few townie teenagers riding around the parking lot without helmets, which naturally caused me to cringe in shock. I know this happens a lot in town, but can't decide why. (Riding without a helmet ranks right up there with smoking, and doing drugs for me. I know people do it, but I love my brain cells and lungs too much to be that foolish.)
Fortunately, the event director made the announcement over the speakers quickly that everyone must wear a helmet as signed in the waiver at registration, or be escorted away by the supervising policemen, and no more bare heads were seen.
The ride started with the tune to "Chariots of Fire" playing over the loudspeakers, (I love that tune!) while the full moon shone brightly in his spot overhead. The average Joe crowd, being people in t-shirts, were in the middle lane around the outer perimeter of the mall, going clockwise. The speed racer jersey crowd was doing paces in the outer lane, and the tykes on trikes and wee children were in the right hand inner lane of traffic, and in the parking lot for safety. Music was a mix of oldies, from "Mustang Sally" to "Grease."
The charm was in seeing a chain of racers on the left speed by in excess of 20mph, while on the right, little boys and girls spun their tricycle pedals so fast, you could tell they thought they were really riding with the big dogs. The police were stationed at corners of the perimeter, and actually had a speed wagon set up, so the tikes could see how fast everybody was going without a bike computer. Sometime after midnight, the crowd had cleared, and many of the children had gone home to bed.
The teenagers must have sensed more liberty to use the whole track. One happy teen came spinning past me in the right hand lane, racing against a couple of other teens on the left of me, or rather missed his goal and careened into my right side. I barely caught a glimpse of his t-shirt as I went sailing through the air, feeling like a skinny rag doll. I bounced around on the pavement like a basketball, hitting my helmet and my face, and my right arm quite a bit. I could hear the kid in the group surrounding me, walking around, repeating, "It was an accident. I didn't mean to." I felt sorry for him because he sounded scared. No reason to be scared I thought from my position on the ground. I would just be a little sore tomorrow.
The guards told me to lie still, they were calling an ambulance. I said I was fine... just to give me a minute to see straight. I head a voice in the group say an ambulance was on the way. I hurried to my feet thinking of five hundred buck ambulance trips. I asked if the teen was ok, but then I realized the teen had skipped out... hit and run... lol... before I even got off the pavement. Suddenly I didn't feel as much sympathy :)
The helmet did its job, holding my brains intact, but alas, I no longer had as much padding on my posterior. I thought I was going to get back on my unscathed bicycle, until I took the first step. My right arm suffered minor bruising and a sprained elbow, which healed nicely and quickly. We got a couple of awesome t-shirts. They are blue with a picture of a skinny hound dog with a helmet on, riding a bike under the light of the moon. He looks so happy and care free with his tongue hanging out. He looks just like that teenager did the moment before he careened into my bike.
The summer after my first two surgeries, during the time I had gone back to work, I volunteered at the Dog Days Ride, at the registration table. It was great to get to be a part, even if I couldn't manage the strength to ride myself. I think that this is one of the things I enjoyed most about cycling... the group effort put out by a cycling community to involve people of all ages and abilities. Another event I enjoyed after my surgeries was fitting kids from the local projects with free helmets, provided by the hospital. It was awesome to see the face of the children of all ages and hairstyles, waiting patiently while we adjusted the helmet straps and installed the padding to fit over their braids, fros, or bald heads, as needed. Some children were so small, it took multiple adjustments before the helmet rode safely on their heads as they rode their bikes away with a wide grin and wheels spinning.
****This is 8nd in a series of ten on "Blogging by Faith." As you read one each night, remember that nothing lasts forever. I do not know how or when God will heal me. But, I know I am healed by His Word. I will be healed for whatever purposes God has for my life. Time is irrelevant. Believe with me!
I was getting faster at switching tires on my bike. I had the skinny road tires on now, and my bike was strapped onto the back of the car, ready to roll. The guys in the local club must have been impressed that I found my way back to my car without GPS or a breadcrumb trail, because it couldn't have been my biking skills or my sophisticated style that sparked the flurry of concerned emails and apologetic phone calls that followed my first club ride, and the invitation for the ride the next morning.
I couldn't believe they felt responsible for my stupidity. It seems they thought I wouldn't remember the turns, assumed I missed them, and doubled back looking for the newby after they finished their ride. But, I had already heard the first two turn road names in our conversation. I had asked for the road names during the ride. They had named the two turns I later took, but hadn't been certain about the names. They said they remembered them on sight, not by name. By the time they got to their cars, and drove the route looking for me, I would have been back out on Hwy 27, because I didn't take the last small road turn they took before the big highway. I'm not really a landmark driver, but I remember street names. And, I will take major highways to avoid getting lost on a cowpath if I don't know where I am, rather than choose any random back road... eenie, meenie, miney, moe.
They had been so friendly, and even described the terrain while we had been riding, so later I recognized the long hill Andrea had earlier referred to affectionately as "Chicken Coop Hill." (She called it that because of the smell. Kurt and the guys called it "Die Hill" because it was the longest hill on the route.) I was glad they were still willing to let me ride with them. But, as it turned out, the standard plan was that the first half is no-drop. After that, it's every man for himself as they let loose the inner beast and ride like the wind. It is assumed you will get dropped, until you get faster. Shame makes you all the more determined to kick butt and take names. And, it made the pleasure all the more immense when I was later able to keep with the pack.
But, despite the fact that I felt so crummy about my speed on the hills that first day, it felt really great after I recovered, feeling all the kinks worked out of my arms and leg muscles. There is something about the really big rides... the ones that push you beyond your most recent rides... that gets you in higher form and ready to go. Now, my goal was to work on the jersey "style" problem. I just had to lose more weight, which was easier said than done.
I had three women's jerseys, with meaningful name-brand labels matching the name on my gloves, but "form-fitting" didn't look the same on me as it did on the slim, trim, six-pack crowd. So, I wore a teeshirt to hang over my belly flab, instead of a jersey. Of course, I felt like I had been busted by the fashion police, when I saw the attention they gave their jerseys. I realized before long that they did not care how fat you were. They just expected you to be honest about your fat, let it all hang out in a tight jersey, and swallow your pride. Everybody knew you were fat, and you should just be yourself and wear a stylish jersey. And, of course, you had to learn to keep up or get dropped. But, that was beside the point.
****This is 7th in a series of ten on "Blogging by Faith." As you read one each night, remember that nothing lasts forever. I do not know how or when God will heal me. But, I know I am healed by His Word. I will be healed for whatever purposes God has for my life. Time is irrelevant. Believe with me!
It was before the dog days of Summer, about mid-July. I had finished my first 5K as planned weeks before on the Summer Solstice. And, on this fine foul weather day, I was taking advantage of the rain by laying around the house, reading magazines and getting one of those valuable Sunday afternoon naps (after Sunday School of course.) It rained a couple of times while I was at church, which was one mid-day service there. But, by the time I was almost home, it looked fierce, with lightening bolts, like fingers of a teacher writing her marks across the sky, grading our papers with disapproving marks. The bolts raced across the sky, and struck the earth in the distance. A strange wind was brewing, while dark clouds billowed upwards in the sky above us. Those clouds opened up as I pulled into the garage of our new house, emptying their full force on the outside of my world.
I was safe inside, and comfortable. Leaning back in the chair at my desk, I logged in to find an email from one of my summer school sutudents telling me the exciting news that she had passed the CRCT retest that we gave them at the end of the summer session. I was so happy to know. That knowledge, and the row of mason jars full of fresh lime pickles standing on my countertop from my first canning session with my friend and neighbor, Diane over the past two days, worked together to ease the agony and shame of my failed Saturday morning ride the day before.
I say failed because I got dropped half way through, not because I didn't finish. I finished. I could pedal my way out of hell, and still be sitting in the saddle, not because of strength, nor speed, but simply because of my one strength of endurance. I call endurance a strength because not everybody can continue fighting a losing battle. Remember the old man in the book, The Old Man and the Sea? The sharks may have eaten his marlin to the bone, but he brought the marlin skeleton home tied to his boat.
"Dropped? What's 'at mean?" my neighbor, a kind elderly gentleman, had asked as he loaded me up with about some fresh cucumbers from his garden the evening before. Looking at his wrinkled brow, I pondered silently the reality that dropped meant my butt felt to fat to make those hills on this particular ride. I answered aloud that it meant I got to enjoy the scenery alone the last half because I couldn't keep up...I got behind... left behind.
I had joined the Coosa Valley Cycling Club and took off on one of the weekly rides, at the last moment, without taking the time to change my thick mountain terrain tires to my thin road tires. I had enjoyed the state rides so much, that I had decided to try the local club rides, instead of riding around town alone. The first half of the ride had been wonderful, talking and enjoying the scenery, even though I was struggling.
My knees were aching most of the ride. I had not only overworked them lifting furniture in my recent house move, but I had gotten out of practice riding. I realized after that half way point where I began to drag on the hills and got dropped that it had been weeks since I had done any serious riding. After summer school ended, I had done the 5K, and then spent a few weeks packing, moving, and unpacking. I had done a single, measly 6 mile ride Thursday afternoon. I was not ready for a 30 mile ride.
A fine pickle I was in, realizing that too late. I had been too eager to ride. And, I frequently found myself doing whatever those around me were doing, even if I wasn't used to their milage yet. Like with that first 50 mile Silver Comet Ride from Cedartown to Piedmont. My previous rides around town had only been 10 mile rides. I went from 10 miles to 50 miles all at once, because I just don't know how to stop when I get started, if everybody else is still rolling.
These were my excuses laid out in my mind as I slogged through the beautiful countryside alone, trying to resist the urge to kick myself, and giving myself that "attitude" pep talk I wanted and needed to hear. The physical pain was bad enough, but the shame of being dropped was enough to make you have visions of hanging yourself with your bicycle chain. Luckily, I was able to find my way back to Hwy 27, not knowing the route ahead of time, but being familar with Rome somewhat from College days. By the time I got back to my car, I hadn't realized how exhausted I was.
I hadn't taken a break, because I still had entertained hopes of "catching up" until this point. I knew I couldn't be much further from the mall where we had parked. But, the road just kept stretching before me. When I finally pulled into the mall parking lot, there were still cars from our pack... the big dogs who were still out riding the 60 mile loop. I had been with the group doing the 30 mile loop. I was relieved to still be able to hoist my bike onto the rack on my car. Riding home, I popped in my audio cd of the book of Mark.
"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God..."
Those first words caught my attention for some reason. This was the beginning, I reminded myself. Mark was the first gospel writer afterall. The others later expanded on his recollections. I thought ahead to John the Revelator and his expositions on the end of the gospel... the good news.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the
first and the last. Revelation 22:13
Jesus Christ... the beginning...and the end... the good news of Jesus. I remembered the angel a few chapters before who will preach the gospel in the end times, when men still will not listen.
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having
the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every
nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Revelation 14:6
Such a comforting thought... the Gospel has begun, is everlasting, and will have its fulfillment in the return of Jesus Christ Himself. In light of that fact, getting dropped was just a speck of dust on the shores of eternity.
****This is 6thin a series of ten on "Blogging by Faith." As you read one each night, remember that nothing lasts forever. I do not know how or when God will heal me. But, I know I am healed by His Word. I will be healed for whatever purposes God has for my life. Time is irrelevant. Believe with me!
I glanced over my shoulder as I made the 8th circle around the track that morning. There was no one behind me. I spun my gaze back to the asphalt spread before me. No one in front of me. I began to ask myself, "Why am I here?" Then I raised my eyes and spoke to God, "I need a miracle of strength right now to finish this last mile today, God." As the words rolled off my tongue in the seconds I was raising my eyes, I saw the sun raising before me. Daybreak!
I thanked God for the miracle of a new day. I was reminded of how my life had been before I began to run. I remembered why I was there. I began running to lose weight. I continued running to relieve stress and to build endurance. I ran for life... healthful life. I ran because I wanted to be fit.
That would be strange if I wanted to be unfit, now wouldn't it? I've heard of Mothers and Fathers being declared "unfit." Some teachers are unfit to teach. If I wanted to be a fit Mother, and a fit teacher, and Spiritually fit, why should I be content to be an unfit person? No one would verbally choose to be unfit. But, that's what I do if I fail to make the right choices. Fitness, endurance, life, those are enough reasons to run. It doesn't matter who's watching.
I love the ocean. The weekend after the 4th that year, after Summer School, Travis and I would be headed to Tybee Island. I already had my lawn chair and beach towel in the car. If you're going to be lazy, the beach is a great place to do it! Otis Redding's classic soul tune, "Sitting On the Dock of the Bay" below, reveals an odd philosophy that many of us take, even if we don't realize it consciously. It's like as a student, though I always had the same potential, year by year my performance changed, based on whether or not there was anyone who cared if I did well in school or not.
Otis (singing) feels as if it doesn't matter; he sees no reason. So, he does nothing. that's strange. If it doesn't matter to anyone whether Otis does or doesn't, then he could just as well do or don't. So, why does he choose to do nothing? I don't know, but that's the nature of the beast.
Who also has made us able ministers
of the new covenant; not of the letter,
but of the spirit: for the letter kills,
but the spirit gives life.
But if the ministry of death,
written and engraved in stones,
so that the children of Israel
could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses
for the glory of his countenance;
which glory was to be done away:
How shall not the ministry of the Spirit be more glorious?
For if the ministry of condemnation be glory,
much more does the ministry of righteousness exceed in glory.
For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect,
by reason of the glory that excels.
For if that which is done away was glorious,
much more that which remains is glorious.
2 Corinthians 3:6-11
Paul is speaking here of how glorious the ten commandments were to the children of Israel, while they were just rules written in stone. Paul is comparing those stones of law to the grace and salvation written in Jesus' crucified flesh. He asks how much more glorious the "Thou shalt's" of grace are, than the "Thou shalt not's" of the ten commandments.
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this
thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. 1 Timothy 4:16
To do is much better than to not do... with or without reason. I figure, since I can...I will.
***Running With Angels on Golden Candlelit Streets: The Longest Night!
Since I have already written about the Greenville Candlelight run in a previous blog last year, I will just share the link for your reference. Even though I had moments of doubt about running a race when no one would be there to see or care, I did it. I was there. Travis was there. And, God saw. Those are enough reasons to reach for a dream. Later, my Mom went with us to the Run in Dalton, and Travis actually ran it with me. That was an awesome experience, running with my son. The photo below is from the Greenville newspaper of the runners lined up ready to run. I'm in the 2nd row in the red Jesus Christ teeshirt. Below that is a picture my Mom took of me and Travis that day in Dalton before the race.
****This is 5th in a series of ten on "Blogging by Faith." As you read one each night, remember that nothing lasts forever. I do not know how or when God will heal me. But, I know I am healed by His Word. I will be healed for whatever purposes God has for my life. Time is irrelevant. Believe with me!
What did the following women have in common:
After you've taken a minute to think about it, scroll down to read the rest of the post.
These women all shared a miracle. They all received a miraculous gift. They all became Mothers in unnatural ways. They each had miracle babies. They each needed God to make this happen, because quite frankly, Sarah and Elizabeth were too old. Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Mrs. Manoah had female problems. And Mary was, well, too single.
But, they all found themselves surprisingly pregnant, and delighted to hear the news. Hannah and Mary broke into singing. Sarah laughed. Mrs. Manoah ran for her husband she was so excited. Elizabeth's baby leaped in her womb. Rachel praised God. And, poor Rebekah didn't know what to say, because of the distressed pregnancy, so she prayed for God to tell her what was going on inside her. Supernatural prayer gave her the results she couldn't obtain before ultrasound- "Sit down sister, you're carrying twins!"
Sarah's son was a Mamma's boy. Rebekah gave birth to the twins: one was an unbeliever and apostate, the other so deceptive that his own family despised him for years. Manoah and his wife both spoiled their son, and he was a party animal and immoral; sleeping with whores and tying foxes tails together just to set them on fire and watch them run through his enemy's cornfield. Rachel's son was thrown in prison, after being accused of rape, and Mary's son was sentenced to die as a terrorist. Elizabeth's son was thrown in jail for "hate speech" and afterwards executed. Hannah's son once became so angry that he chopped a political prisoner to death with a soldier's sword.
There the stories diverge, and we must remember that Sarah's, Rebekah's and Mrs. Manoah's sons turned to God later in life, after "sowing some wild oats." But, the sons of Rachel, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Mary were all upright and honest men, with a zeal for serving God that would explain their odd behavior and imprisonment, and even executions.
Sarah was the mother of Isaac, one of the Patriarchs who redug the old wells of his father, a Spiritual symbol for us today. And, he married Rebekah, who was the mother of twins Esau and Jacob. Esau never repented and turned to the God of his father, but forgave his conniving brother Jacob in midlife. Jacob raised a family of more than 100 children and grandchildren, establishing the nation of Israel in their worship of the one true God. Mrs. Manoah gave birth to Samson, the mighty man of valor, who repented after years in confinement and prayed for God to use him one last time. And, God did. Rachel gave birth to the honorable judge Samuel, who served his whole life without mention of sin, until it came time to raise his own sons, and they didn't turn out so well. It seems he let them get away with whatever they wanted to do in his house, just like Eli had before him. Elizabeth gave birth to the wildman John the Baptist. After his parents died, John lived as a Bedouin in the desert, eating locusts and honey. He preached salvation to Israel to turn their hearts to God, and prepare for the coming of the Messiah. And, his 2nd Cousin Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Messiah and Savior for the whole Earth. John and Jesus were both imprisoned and executed, but one came out of the grave. Because that baby was born, you and I today have been saved. This birth brought about the salvation of the whole Earth.
Never forget the importance of a single prayer.
Acts 3:1-13 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the
hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's
womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called
Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter
and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his
eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting
to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but
such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and
walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his
feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and
entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And
all the people saw him walking and praising God: And they knew that it was he
which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled
with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. And as the lame
man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them
in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. And when Peter saw it,
he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why
look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made
this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our
fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in
the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.
This is one of my favorite miracles in the Bible. I think a major part of what I love is the lame man's reactions. Notice the bolded and underlined wording in the passage above. I can picture him hugging Peter and John. I can just imagine him walking, and leaping, and praising God. Such a fun story! But, what captures my heart most in this story is Peter's words at the beginning..."Silver and gold have I none...but such as I have give I thee..." I love those words! Peter realized that he had something more valuable than silver and gold. Isn't good health more valuable than gold even in this economy? If you think you are broke now, try having your legs broken, or your eyes blinded, or some other disability. You will really feel broke then. And, often money can't buy a cure for health problems. If I had a million dollars, I would give it all away now to buy my health back. But, no can do. Money is not taken here...not plastic nor cash.
Peter must have felt some sorrow that he could not give the man money, to help him in his sad situation. But, then he seemed to realize he had something even more valuable. But, back up to the beginning. The lame man was not a pretty sight. Yet, there he lay at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. What a sight to see! A lame man laying outside the church everyday begging. This was before welfare, disability, or food stamps existed. Imagine looking him in the eye as you went to church. The lame man wasn't going to be able to solve his problem on his own. The best that he could do was allow himself to be dropped off at the temple each day for forty years to sit and wait for money to be given him to survive on. That must have been a hard living. There had to be days he got nothing.
I've gone too far. It's more than a story when you've heard it for 40 years, as many years as he lay there begging. I think I memorized the first part when I was 7 years old. I feel like this man is a relative and I am so happy to see him healed each time I read it, as if I am witnessing the miracle for the first time. So, I can't finish the words. But, it's not my fault. I ran into the lame man again at church tonight. And, who can speak after witnessing such a miracle?
Close your eyes. Remember the last church service you went to? How did you read this last sentence if you had your eyes closed? You must not be listening. Now that you know what to do, close your eyes and think about that last service for a few seconds before looking back at the words.
Why were you there? Why did you go to church the last time you went? Now, can you imagine why you went the first time? Think about that. You had reasons, obviously.
We often enter into new situations with trepidation, carefully, with an escape hatch plan. The first time my husband and I met was planned. We had corresponded online and by email. Then we talked on the phone. Then we agreed to meet for a church service, at my church. Aware that a "screen personality / phone voice can be different from an actual person face to face, I asked him to meet me at a neutral location where we could ride together to my church, thinking I could just bail (jump ship, make up some excuse, suddenly become sick, etc...) if I didn't like what I saw. ;) I liked what I saw, so we drove to my church for our first service together. He was there invited. Likewise, when I went to his church...I was with him.
You might question the motives, but most people go to their own church for similar motives: Aunt Sally asked them to go, Cousin Fred is getting married at church, Little Tommy is getting baptised, a coworker asked them to visit, Vacation Bible School...few people go to church just cold-turkey off the street.
John 12:9-11 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and
they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom
he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put
Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away,
and believed on Jesus.
Remember the raising of Lazarus from the dead? He unconsciously, and unwittingly brought many "visitors" to Jesus. People saw what happened and came to see Jesus. But, it was because of Lazarus that they came. Regardless of how they felt about Lazarus, the miracle, and Jesus, there was something going on that they could not deny, short of murdering the perpetrators. That's what they set about doing. It wasn't long before Jesus was crucified. And, Lazarus...? We never hear of Lazarus again do we? Maybe he was martyred. Maybe he fled in the ensuing persecutions, helping to spread the Gospel around the Middle East and Europe. Whatever the result, we do know that many people over the course of nineteen hundred years have heard about what happened to Lazarus. It is unimaginable the influence he has had on the faith of some 50 generations of Christians. Yet, we are told only of the love he shared with Jesus. No other deed that Lazarus performed is recorded but for his great love for the master. Yet, his love brought people to Jesus. What is our love doing?
John 12:9-11 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and
they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom
he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put
Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away,
and believed on Jesus.
Reason can have multiple meanings, as seen in a few of the definitions.
a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event, etc.
a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action.
the mental powers concerned with forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences.
to think or argue in a logical manner.
As a noun, you can have a reason, give a reason, and use your reason. As a verb, you can reason out or with. Either way, to say the "reason is because" in a sentence is criticized as redundant. The word because (literally, by cause ) contains within it the meaning of reason; therefore saying "the reason is because" is like saying “The cause is by cause,” But, as one of the usual features of the 1611 King James Bible, redundancy is prized as a teaching method of repetition. It is a key feature that you can find a synonym just after the new words used in their first occurances. For example, when the KJV1611 uses collops of fat, fat tells you what collops are more commonly called. This could be looked at as redundant in today's language, but the feature helped generations of Americans learn to read using the Bible as a reader. I am not promoting this method of learning to read. But, it was used, and it worked at that time. I think it illustrates that redundancy has a purpose in more than just poetry and song.
Joseph Glanvill, an English writer said, "The belief of our Reason is an Exercise of Faith, and Faith is an Act of Reason." We are using our intellectual powers of reasoning when we have faith in God. The passage from John 12 above gives reasons that people came to hear Jesus. I haven't throughly researched all the reasons people came to see Jesus, but I can say off the top of my head that the majority of reasons had to do with the miracles He performed for and through people. In fact, that is the reason given here. They came because Jesus had raised a man from the dead. They wanted to see this dead man walk and talk. And, they wanted to start trouble for Jesus and kill Lazarus because of the Jews that had fallen away from the temple and were following Jesus.
Imagine that! They wanted to kill Lazarus because he was healed! He was a dead man walking and he was about to be a dead man walking. What were they thinking? If Jesus had brought a dead man back to life, how did they think they were going to kill him again? And, how were they going to kill a man who could raise the dead? It is unimaginable. But, Lazarus caused all this grief. He made Jesus a wanted man...wanted dead.
We have our reasons for seeking and believing in Jesus. And, Jesus had His reasons for seeking us out through His death, burial, and resurrection. Our human powers of reason are often at a loss to explain Jesus' reasons. Suffice it to say, He loved us. That is reason enough.
I have a pacemaker implant for my bladder. It causes lots of problems. I've had a rough few months, since we've been trying to get it to function for me. We made some new changes 8 days ago, and I am seeing a major improvement in my ability to get around, I am praying for the improvement to continue, and for a return of my strength.
I don't always understand why things happen like they do. I've been majorly disappointed in the way things have gone with all the surgeries. But, there is always the peace in the midst of the storm that keeps me. My family has suffered major financial losses throughout all these surgeries. But, we're still here. People react differently to the situations we are dealing with, in all the different ways my disability affects other people. I have learned that I can not always change how other people see me in this situation. But, I can change how I feel about how they see me. I've acquired this remarkably freeing sense of "so what?!" I believe that no matter what happens, I have a right to live. I refuse to let anyone control how I feel. They can like me, or hate me. None of this changes how I feel.
I see several examples of this in the Bible. The man who was let down through the ceiling to Jesus for healing didn't let the crowd stop him. The lady with an issue of blood pushed through the crowd without fear of how others saw her. There are other examples. But, I believe God has a purpose for our struggles. None of this is beyond reason. Don't ask me to name reasons for my pain, suffering, losses, and rejections. All that I have to name is Jesus. Jesus can reach down in the middle of my situation and pull me out. When He does, everyone is going to see His miraculous ability and love for me and my family. Everyone is going to see the Healer at work. So, hide and watch.
For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring
down high looks. For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten
my darkness. For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I
leaped over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD
is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God
save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with
strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and
setteth me upon my high places. He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of
steel is broken by mine arms. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy
salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me
great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.
When God gives me the feet of a deer, I will be running again. You can bet on it!