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Read |John 9; 2 Corinthians 12: 1 - 10|
My life is lived on two shores, set apart by the currents of the Atlantic Ocean. Flying is as common to me, as driving may be to you. The entire course from my apartment in New York to my home in Jamaica has been permanently imprinted on my mind. I am competent in navigating it. Yet, in the midst of this familiarity is a persistent vulnerability. I board the plane, whisper a prayer--over and over again--until we are at cruising altitude because I fear flying. I can think of few other routines in my life that bring to the fore of my mind, my frailty. My first full breath is taken when the seatbelt sign is removed. The absence of any known present dangers, helps me recover my sense of competence and I am fairly settled until the turbulence--then I am praying again. This is the cycle from take off to landing, which is why it may seem peculiar that while I fear flying, I also love it! There is beauty in being vulnerable and finding over and over again that in your weakness there is a strength and peace made available to you, which is unperturbed by roaring circumstances. I love the intensity with which my clear weakness as I fly, begs for the presence and strength of God.
In John 9 we encounter a series of characters who all have weaknesses that beg for the presence and strength of God. Chief among them are the disciples, the man blind from birth, and the Pharisees. The disciples display their weakness in their need for understanding when they ask: "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9: 2, NIV). They assume that this man lacks sight as a consequence of sin. They are not aware that their assumption is wrong, so they only ask for what they believe they lack--the knowledge of whose sin caused the affliction. But, Jesus does not despise them. He hears in their question a desire for truth and He provides it: "'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,'...'but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'" (John 9: 3, NIV). Though the disciples did not know the full extent of their weakness, they presented what was evident to them, to One they believed could help--Jesus. They entrusted themselves to Him and so received His help.
The man who unwittingly becomes the center of great controversy displays his weakness in three ways: the fact of his blindness, his inability to restore his sight and his ignorance of Jesus' true identity as God. But, in all his weakness he made himself available to receive the help of God. There is no indication in the scripture that he had any knowledge of Jesus' presence until the touch. Until Jesus made clay by mixing His spit with the dirt at His feet. Yet, sitting in the streets, he makes room for God's strength by being receptive to His touch. There is no pushback. He acknowledges his need by posturing himself to receive. He not only permits Jesus to touch him, but he acknowledges his own impotence to cure his blindness when he obeys His command: "'Go,' he told him, 'wash in the Pool of Siloam' (this word means “Sent”)." (John 9: 7, NIV). The result of his humility is healing--God's power on display through his weakness. (John 9: 3). Finally, he permits Jesus to inform him by acknowledging his ignorance when Jesus asks, '“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”' (John 9: 35, NIV). He responds in vulnerability, "'Who is he, sir?' the man asked. 'Tell me so that I may believe in him.'" (John 9: 36, NIV). The result of his meekness--room for the revelation that leads to his salvation: “'You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.'” (John 9: 37, NIV).
Lastly, we encounter the Pharisees. These scholars of Jewish law were like the disciples and the blind man in their choice to ask questions. However, they were unlike them because they did not desire the truth. Instead, they desired to reinforce the boundaries of their current understandings. They were great in their own minds--blind to their own ignorance. Over and over again they questioned the man who had been healed by Jesus. Yet, in spite of the consistency of his report and the clear witness of his sight, they refused to believe what proved their assumptions to self-righteousness false. (John 9: 17 - 29). They chose a posture of strength where they were weak and forfeited the presence and strength of God. Instead of insight, healing and salvation, Jesus leaves them with these words: "'If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you're accountable for every fault and failure.'" (John 9: 41, NIV).
Beloved, the Apostle Paul spoke true wisdom when he wrote: "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12: 9, NIV). Give up the strength of your I to be found lost in Him: lost in the One who is full of grace. (John 1: 14).
Carolyn Sinclair McCalla is an educator, Christian education youth coordinator, author, singer, workshop and retreat leader, speaker and. founder and president of EarthBasic. However, she is first and foremost a daughter of God, with a passion for encouraging women to embrace the fullness of God's love for them in Jesus Christ. You can connect with Carolyn on facebook, Instagram and here.