Modern-Day Parables: Giving ‘Eyesight’ to the Blind

Mark 4:10-12: (ESV)
And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And [Jesus] said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that ‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.'”

John 9:24-25:
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether [Jesus] is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

This past weekend had the “fingerprints of Jesus” all over it.

Having spent most of my adult life as “blind” to the things of God – and only now seeing imperfectly (Mark 8:22-26) – all I can do is fall back and give glory to God for providing me with the gift of sight, even if it is limited. Along with the grateful father documented in Mark 9:20-24, the gift of vision only makes me hungry for more: “I believe; help my unbelief!”

  • Saturday, May 6th: People show up out of nowhere.On Saturday morning, I arrived at about 7:30 a.m. at a ForColumbia worksite to build a fence, a project which had to be postponed on the original date, April 29th, due to the record downpour we received that day. Upon my arrival, there was one other guy on the scene. I took one look at the stack of preassembled fence pieces, another look at the sheer length of the fence with which we had been tasked, and inwardly thought to myself, “No way.” Whirling around in my head and heart were several previous text messages, emails and conversations that basically boiled down to me and maybe four other people showing up, no more than six total. Beating back my own selfishness, I simply prayed, “Lord, you know I didn’t want to be here until dark, but if that’s what you have for me, I accept.” Within 90 minutes, we had more than a dozen other folks on the scene, several of them highly skilled. The fence project at Wilkes Boulevard UMC was more-or-less done by the time lunch arrived. These workers hadn’t bothered to respond in the affirmative to any emails, they simply showed up and gave themselves over to the task at hand. After the fence was in place and most of the other workers had departed, I lingered for a bit and ran my hands over the new fence, pausing long enough to be amazed at what the Lord will do with those who have given their lives over to Him.
  • Sunday, May 7th: Aaron baptizes his daughter.On Sunday, after an amazing sermon about Jesus patiently building for Himself an eternal family, delivered by Crossing Pastor Dave Cover, my family and I lingered in the auditorium for a baptism service. Baptism services at The Crossing are notorious for their messiness. Kids crying, fidgeting in their chairs, random outbursts of applause…all of the things that tend to horrify someone like me, a cranky old man who was raised Baptist in the 1960’s and early 70’s. And again, a simple prayer offered: “Lord, open my eyes to see the Kingdom You are building.” The guest speaker yesterday was a close friend of mine, a partner in recovery ministries and longtime confidant. He spoke about how menacing I had appeared to him ten years ago – I especially liked that part – and then went on to describe several tangible ways in which the Lord had been good to him during all of his years of rebellion and, especially, in the ten years that have passed since he came to Jesus. Watching as family after family approached the pastors asking to be received into Christ’s Kingdom, all I could hear was Jesus whispering to me out of Revelation 21:5: “Behold…I am making all things new.”
  • Sunday, May 7th: Reconciliation and celebration.Sunday evening, we hosted a belated birthday party for our daughter in our home and I was surprised to learn that my wife’s ex-husband was on his way, five minutes away from joining us. The Cranky Old Man yet again reared his ugly head, but only for the briefest of moments; this reaction was more about my desire to have things go exactly the way I thought they would than anything else. Certainly, it had nothing to do with any remaining negative feelings, only my personal dislike at being surprised by anything (even good things). Before Shelly’s ex even had a chance to reach our door, another quick prayer asking Jesus to forgive my initial over-response and help me get about the business of welcoming others in, just as I myself have been welcomed in. And the Spirit seemed pleased to remind me that sincere apologies for our past marital mistakes and selfishness had both been offered and accepted on all sides. Paul’s call for reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21) was very appropriately seared onto my frontal lobes, and we all had a great time. Many messes were made, many tasteless jokes shared, and (more importantly) it seemed as though our daughter truly enjoyed herself.

Like Thomas, the disciple forever associated with doubting, there have been long seasons where I have foolishly demanded that Jesus show Himself to me. I’m not sure exactly when my heart turned a corner on this whole issue, but these past few years have enabled me to stay more alert after praying, to not move too quickly past any sort of favorable outcome, and (mostly) to remember to come back and thank Jesus (Luke 17:15) when He has both manifested Himself in my life and given me eyes to see.

He’s everywhere. (Ask Him to show you.)

Matthew 7:7 (ESV)
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Luke 17:11-19
On the way to Jerusalem [Jesus] was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

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