Saturday, October 31, 2015

The One Who Can Do The Impossible

"That's impossible!"  Did you ever hear that statement? I have. Many times. By many different people. Sometimes I even say it myself when someone declares they have a plan that is unrealistic. Sometimes I say it when I see something happen that's extraordinary. 

One time I had a front row seat to watch a magician perform. I was within a few feet of him. He did some card tricks that I could only conclude, "That's impossible!"  Of course, he must have used a very well practiced slight-of-hand. Still, I couldn't figure out how he did those tricks.

Illusionists can really be fascinating. They use trickery that plays on our visual perception. An illusion is something that appears to be real but it is not. Like an optical illusion. Illusionists present tricks which appear impossible. 

In reality, what is really impossible are actions that defy or contradict the natural laws of nature and physics. For example, bringing a dead person back to life. That's impossible. Or calming a wild, raging sea by simply telling it to stop. Impossible. Or walking on water. Impossible. Someone floating weightlessly and ascending into the clouds. Impossible. Except for God.

A miracle is a deliberate action that defies the natural laws of nature and physics, and is caused solely by the power of God. Only by Divine intervention can a true miracle be carried out. Jesus, God in the flesh, performed countless miracles while He was on earth. He did things that were "impossible". In the Old Testament, God performed dozens of miracles directly or through people such as the prophets. Even today, God can intervene and perform miracles if He so chooses. Prayer can play a huge part in Divine intervention. I love it when doctors are baffled by someone who is terminally ill returns unexpectedly to full health through prayer. 

On a lesser scale, sometimes we deal in situations in which the solutions seem impossible. It may be struggles with relationships, or finances, or circumstances. The so called miracles that we hope for are not in the scope of defying physics or nature, but are simply solutions that we personally can't seem to make happen. We need God's intervention. But here's the good news. He can do it. 

Jesus said,  “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)  In other words, our struggles may look impossible to resolve, and perhaps they are if we try to solve them on our own. But with prayer, and faith in God's power and intervention, He is able to work things out in our favor. And you know something? As faithful Christians, as Christ-followers, God promises this. 

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Sometimes it's good to reflect on what God has done in our lives. Looking back on things that God has worked out in our past makes us realize that God truly loves and cares for us. And in more cases than not, through His great power, He not only works things out, but He does it beyond anything we could ever ask or imagine.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Gift Of Vision

I had taken time off from blogging for about 8 weeks for one major reason - I couldn't see well enough to read or write. That's because I had 2 major emergency eye surgeries on my right eye that were 3 weeks apart. The first was due to a detached retina. The surgeon basically tack-welded the inside lining of my eye with a laser. For the next 7 days I had to be face-down - sleeping, eating, sitting, etc.  Then, because of complications from the first surgery (bleeding behind the retina), I had to have another surgery. This time, I had to be on my left side for 7 days. No fun. 

Since then, my sight has slowly, but steadily, gotten better and better in my right eye. I'm still in the healing mode, but at least I can function fairly well. But for a while, I don't mind telling you, I was scared - scared that I would go blind in my right eye. But thankfully that didn't happen. 

I had dozens and dozens of people praying for me - family, friends, church family. I received so many cards, emails, texts, and calls that it was overwhelming. I learned many things during this time. Things like patience, the love and concern shared by family members, as well as friends. The value of a caring church family. And especially the power of prayer. 

I also learned there are many more people much worse off then me. This prompted me to write a song called "Somebody's Hurting Today". I am a worship leader and I wanted to remind our congregation that there are hurting people all around us. During the 7 weeks, I wrote 7 songs relating to my experience. I didn't plan to write any songs, let alone 7, but I guess the Lord had different plans. 

I realize more than ever that vision is so precious. I would rather loose a leg, or an arm, than lose an eye. It's hard for me to imagine being totally blind. There are so many people who are. As for me, I was fortunate to have access to great medical care, otherwise it would have taken a miracle to restore my vision. 

Speaking of miracles, from now on, because of the eye issues I have recently dealt with, I will look a little more intently at the miracles Jesus performed in giving sight to the blind. Can you imagine being totally blind and then immediately given the gift of vision? Wow. Jesus gave sight to the blind not just once, or a couple of times, but He gave sight to many, many blind people, as described throughout the Gospels. Just search for the word blind in the New Testament, and you will be amazed.  

Since the beginning of time, it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind (John 9:32). That is, until Jesus. No one before Him, not even Moses or Elijah, gave sight to a person born blind. There were all kinds of miracles by prophets but none involving the blind.  

One of my favorite miracles involves the story of Bartimaeus. He was a blind beggar who heard Jesus was coming by and called out to Him. Jesus stopped and asked Bartimaeus what he wanted.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road. (Mark 10:51-52)

These types of miracles involving the blind certainly reflect the compassion that Jesus had toward such people. There is, however, a much deeper spiritual symbolism here. Jesus giving sight to the blind points to the broader concept that Jesus gives sight to those who are spiritually blind. His miracles involving the blind illustrate the point that He came to bring people out of darkness into His light - that He is the light of the world.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12)

Yes, I am thankful that I can see, physically. But I am more thankful that I am able to see the glorious light of the Good News. 

"Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. " (2 Corinthians 4:4)

And as Christians, let's never forget that God has called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.

"But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)