This post is part of a weekly series in which a group of blogging friends and I participate entitled, “His Encouragement.” Every Thursday, we post scripture verses that have inspired and strengthened us throughout the week.
I posted this meditation by accident several weeks ago, and I apologize. It was still a rough draft at the time; however, I am happy to share it with you today. These are thoughts that have been working in my mind for quite some time now and scripture verses upon which I have been meditating. These scriptures have given me great comfort over these past several weeks, and I hope that they inspire you as well- even if you are completely able-bodied.
If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual.
The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.
What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
(1 Corinthians 15:44b-50, from the Revised Common Lectionary )
I have a confession to make: If I had the choice, I would be able to see.
Although I know that people who are blind can live full and complete lives, one of my greatest fears is the complete loss of my sight.
I spent years praying for a miracle.
When I was a small child, I desperately believed with all my heart and soul that Jesus would heal me of my sight loss. I truly believed in the very essence of my being that one day, I would wake up and I would be healed of the glaucoma and my limited vision.
As I grew older, I wrestled with my faith. Eventually, my faith grew and matured. At last, I came to the conclusion that for whatever reason, God had chosen to not bless me with a miracle in this life. I do not understand God’s reasons, but I take comfort in the poetry of the Hebrew Bible and the story of Job.
Like Job, I can not begin to understand the workings of the Great Creator. I cannot tame the Leviathian, hang the stars in the sky, or even make a single drop of dew (Job 41:-5). Only God can do those things. I cannot presume to know the mind of God. All I can do is marvel at the wonders of God’s creation and give thanks for the beauty of each day.
I also took comfort in the Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul writes, “If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.” It seemed to me that in this letter to the church at Corinth, Paul was making the promise that in heaven we would all get new spiritual bodies.
I stopped praying for physical healing.
I even stopped hoping for physical healing.
Instead, I started praying to go to heaven.
Faith & Action
I became comfortable with this type of placid, hopeful faith. In essence, there is nothing wrong with it. As believers in Christ, we do hope for the coming of God’s Kingdom. I pray fervently for the time when there will be no more pain and every tear will be wiped away. I long for the time when Christ will come again and make all things new (Reveleation 21:1-7).
Then, during my second year of seminary, I was required to take part in a mission trip. I was not thrilled. The last thing that I wanted to do was travel to Pine Ridge, South Dakota, in January.
It was completely freezing- but I am so glad that I went. That mission trip blessed me in more ways than I can possibly begin to describe. It planted an imperishable seed deep within my soul. I knew from that point on that I was called to an active faith.
God Loves You Exactly As You Are
In John 9, the disciples ask Jesus why a certain man was born blind. At the time, it was believed that a disability was a sign of God’s disapproval. Many people believed that if a person was born with a disability, it was because that person’s parents had sinned or because that person was innately sinful.
We still see this same type of ableism (ableism can be defined as being prejudiced against someone because of a person’s disability) in today’s world. One of the most common questions my mother got when I was young child was, “Why?”
Although the question may have been well meaning, my mother often felt that the implicit undertone to the question was essentially, “Did you do something wrong during your pregnancy?”
In the story in John 9, when asked why the man was born blind, Jesus answers the disciples, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned…but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
After my time at Pine Ridge, I was inspired by the words of Christ. I still did not know why I was born with the congenital cataracts that caused my disability, but I decided that it wasn’t the why that mattered. It was what I did with my life.
The Holy Spirit had been working in my heart for quite some time up to that point, but that mission trip to Pine Ridge, South Dakota inspired a distinct step forward in my spiritual journey.
I like to use the metaphor of “teething.” At this point, my theology “began to form teeth.” It began have a bit of a bite to it.
When We Love God, It Shows in Our Actions
An active faith in Christ can be dangerous because it calls us to love others. Love is not just warm and fuzzy feeling we get on a Sunday morning. The concept of Biblical love is directly linked to action. Because God loved us, Good took action: God gave us the gift of Jesus Christ, who died to save us from sin.
I was no longer contented with an inactive faith that just buried its head in theological text books and quietly sat in chapel. From that point on, I knew that I was called to show God’s love by doing something.
Every Day, I Trust in the Lord
After my trip to Pine Ridge, I told one of my best friends, who is also blind, that I thought I had gotten a glimpse of heaven from my experience there. I asked her, “Do you think there will be disability in heaven?”
She thought for a moment before responding, “I think so. I’m not sure what I would be like if I were different. I wouldn’t know myself.”
I don’t know exactly what heaven will be like. As a human, I can only imagine what it would be like to be that close to our all powerful Creator. However, I’m sure that my best friend will be there- and so will Jesus.
I know that he will call her by name- and I hope that he calls me, too.
Until that day comes, I will continue to do my small part to make the world a better place for all of God’s children, especially those who have been historically marginalized. God has entrusted all of us with unique gifts and graces. I will continue to do my best with the talents that God has given me until God’s Kingdom comes once more upon the earth or until God calls me home.
I have also come to a deeper understanding of myself:
Some days, I am proud to be a visually impaired woman.
Other days, I still pray for healing-
But every day, I trust in the Lord.
And I know that all who trust in the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!