My brothers and I constantly receive the benefit of loving parents. Fortunately we still have both of our parents with us, and we get to hear life review stories. We grew up with some of these stories like the favorite blanket or stuffed animal – something that becomes a part of who you are even if the blanket becomes frayed or the bear only looks through one eye. I wonder why disabilities in a favorite toy does not scare us like those we find in the lives of our neighbors? Perhaps we can learn to love the suffering neighbor, possibly even feeling lost without neighbors, as we love the things that we cherish so much.
One story from Dad’s childhood relates to Bill, one of his schoolmates. Dad had the privilege of attending a one-room school house that nurtured pupils in grades 1 through 8. Dad and the other graduating eighth grade student hold the honor of being the last to complete grammar school in the hallowed room. The institution carried the heavy moniker of Hale’s College. Rev. Hale could not support his higher education dream in southern Missouri farm country, so he settled for foundational education instead.
Bill may have suffered from enema as well as poverty. As late autumn turned cold under the encroachment of Old Man Winter, Bill would add another layer of clothing. Each pair of pants would need to be a little larger than the previous pair to provide mobility while holding out the frost. Bill, like many little boys, liked to fill his pockets with found things. I doubt any of the items retained their shine – time marked them before they found a place in Bill’s possession.
Bill’s essential wardrobe did provide one advantage for a finder. Each layer of pants afforded four more pockets. Instead of summer storage of four receptacles, Bill began the spring shedding process with 16 or more filled bins! With so much on a little fellow’s mind, he could not keep an accurate inventory of his holdings. One day Mr. Stafford, hopefully Dad’s favorite teacher since he set under that professor’s tutelage for seven of his eight grammar school years, suffered the loss of a castor on his chair.
He called Bill to the teacher’s desk.
“Bill, would you happen to have one of these little wheels in your pocket?” inquired the professor.
“I don’t, know,” confessed the shy little scholar. He commenced to search through his inventory… one layer of pockets at a time. I must confess this is one time I wish phone video cameras existed in the late 40s and early 50s. What treasures like bent nails, broken watches, bullet casings, and shiny rocks must have emerged from the protective layers!
“Will this one work, Sir?”
“Bill, I believe you have done it!” exclaimed the scribe as he installed the castor and beamed on the lad who had already begun filling his spring pants pockets on the way to the winter stratum.
The lame beggar at Gate Beautiful undoubtedly looked at Peter and John with a similar expectation as Mr. Stafford bestowed on Bill. Would these young men be able to hold off hunger for him and his family for another day? Might he even face the coming Sabbath’s forced rest with enough to sustain them until the next week without an unscheduled fast day? The apostles had empty pockets just like the last 40 times they past him on the way to prayer. They had even passed the same beggar with their Rabbi on His trips to the temple. But this day proved to be different.
Empty pockets blessed the lame man.
He received something far greater as the men spoke the Name of Jesus into the situation. He walked. He ran. He jumped. He held Peter and John as an equal man rather than a beggar more familiar with warn knees than smiling eyes.
He praised God, and so did the people!
The people also displayed wonder and amazement. And Peter had the audacity to ask them why. I think they marveled justly – certainly more justly than the fact that Bill had come across the correct size castor in the previous four months and preserved it until his professor had a need.
The lame man’s gift did not come from Peter and John’s power or holiness (… hum, I could write a little about the beauty of holiness here, but that will have to be another story:). The man did not experience restoration to health for he was lame from his mother’s womb. Instead he experienced something never known before when faith in the name of the Prince of Life breathed across the courtyard.
Wonder of wonders! This time of refreshing comes from the presence of the Lord. These refreshing waves start with repentance and will continue until all creation’s sinful brokenness gets restored. The healed limbs pointed to the coming destination like MapQuest suggest the next turn I should take if I really want to get to my intended destination. I should not camp at the sign or I will never make it to the destination.
Moses and the prophets spoke of this new possibility. A possibility where healing, repentance, restoration, blessings for all ethnic groups, and turning from all iniquities would become normal.
Instead I still marvel when this happens.
I’m sorry. I want to turn in the direction You intend for my life as I become part of the Great Restoration of all things. Too often I marvel and wonder when You do the work that leads people to right worship. I want the sign more than I want the destination. I want bigger signs. I want more notable signs. I want my signs to sparkle like Vegas neon to set me and my church apart from the desert around us.
You want normal faith in Your name. You want me/us to live out the restored life. You want this to be my/our new expectation where Your refreshing comes on me/us in a chaotic world. You do not want extraordinary or loud … You want a new normal.
Help me/us to walk as children of the prophets and covenant where our lives bless all people groups of the earth. Instead of wanting the signposts, we want the destination full restoration. Thank you for providing the refreshing waves of Your presence as we travel this path.
I pray we have healing in the house of prayer so we have healing to offer the world. I pray we have the new normal of praise to offer on the other side of the signs. I pray we do not become discouraged with the rugged terrain – the terrain merely speaks to the need for the final destination.
Thank You! I praise Your name!
Thank you for walking with me through Acts 3. Perhaps the passage calls you to look in the direction of the destination rather than being satisfied with momentary signs. If your experience is like mine, then you too get discouraged with the reduction of signs when we focus on them rather than the place where all things find restoration. Be refreshed. Acknowledge your empty pockets. Express faith in the Name. Who knows, you may pass a person in need today. What do you have to offer?