04-08-18 “All Are Forgiven”
New Testament: 1 John 1:1-2:2
Gospel: John 20:19-31
When lists are compiled of things that scare them us, we uncover the usual suspects, public speaking, spiders, snakes, tight spaces, heights, flying, the dentist and the dark. The last one is the one I want to focus on today. Physical and spiritual darknesses are different, but they go hand in hand.
From Psychology Today’s website I found this interesting item about physical fear. “The more scared you feel, the scarier things will seem. Through a process called potentiation, your fear response is amplified if you are already in a state of fear. When you are primed for fear, even harmless events seem scary. If you are watching a documentary about venomous spiders, a tickle on your neck (caused by, say, a loose thread in your sweater) will startle you and make you jump out of your seat in terror.
If you are afraid of flying, even the slightest turbulence will push your blood pressure through the roof of the plane. And the more worried you are about your job security, the more you will sweat it when your boss calls you in for even an uneventful meeting.”
I have a small fear of banging my big toe into a a solid wooden table leg. When I walk in a dark room my brain conjures up the last time I hit my toe and the pain it caused. I live in a state of fear, even if it is for a few seconds until I reach a light switch or flashlight.
Spiritual darkness is similar yet different, like when we have been hurt by other people, so we fear, perhaps we have been betrayed so we lose trust, maybe we have been lied to cheated, victim of theft. It may be the loss of someone we love, like a child or parent or spouse, those can leave us in the spiritual darkness. In these cases we can begin closing ourselves off. This is a heightened, prolonged sense of fear and it’s spiritual. It can last longer than a few seconds, maybe for a lifetime.
We get into the spiritual darkness when we begin to believe that God is not good because the evidence of the events proves otherwise.
Like I said physical and spiritual darknesses may be different but they go hand in hand quite often. Thankfully God gives us two sets of eyes with which to see.
I appreciate how people without sight or limited sight manage to navigate their surroundings. I recently watched a man get on the Amtrak guided only by a white mobility sight stick and his one outstretched hand. I was amazed at how he navigated up the stairs and down the corridor of seats, even locating the restroom.
I can see all the signs and I still struggle. I was bothering Debbie with questions like, “What did the announcer say?” “What does the board say about our departure?” “How do you know what track to go to?”
In a way Debbie was my white mobility sight stick. Those handy devices are going high-tech. Inventors in France have equipped them with ultrasonic devices that detect obstacles up to nine feet away. Vibrations in the stick’s handle warn users of potential hazards in their path.
When ‘canes’ were first used motorists had a hard time seeing the dark colored canes so they began painting them white with a red tip to help others know you had trouble seeing. We have come a long way since then.
People without physical sight or limited physical sight go to great lengths to protect themselves. Shouldn’t those who have limited spiritual sight do the same. That is to work hard to prevent getting hurt from the dark?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all helped each other navigate in the darkness. Not just those with limited physical sight. I mean all of us who have some degree of spiritual blindness. What a world it would be if we were all watching out for each other.
From 1 John again – “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
Nowhere in the scriptures do I hear God call us to live in competition with each other, to constantly find ways to elevate ourselves over others, to push past all the other people and get to where we are going first, but to be in fellowship.
Doesn’t communal fellowship sound better than pointless and pushy existence? It does me. I used to be one of those pushy people, sometimes I still am. I love the other way of living, the slower pace, slowing down long enough to enjoy the brief moments of light where I can truly see. In those moments of spiritual light, we find ways to help along their journey. Healthy spiritual sight can give us confidence to go forth and change our lives.
As I was walking behind the man with limited sight I thought about helping him. I could tell he was looking for the restroom because he was using his left hand, touching each seat back then feeling ahead. He got to the open door and I was going to say, “turn left.” God hit me and said he was doing just fine, probably better than I was. Then God hit me again, this man was there to help me see, not the other way around. It chilled me for a moment that if I did speak he might have turned around and said, “I know where I’m going, do you?”
That man probably rides that train everyday and knows how many seats are in every car because he takes the time to count them. He probably knows every bump and groove in the floor because it is important for his travel. He is probably more in tune with the sounds the train makes and has a better idea of where he is than I do.
That reminds me of our second sight. The spiritual eyes of faith. That man was using faith to some degree. Meaning he was relying on something other that what his eyes could prove to him. His eyes couldn’t help him so his trust went deeper; to another level. Our physical eyes will very often fail to help us understand faith. Faith comes from walking without seeing. I mean seeing the future, like next year, what will happen tomorrow, what will become if life changes. When we can’t answer these questions we need to have something to fill the void. Faith. We cannot allow the darkness to take over our faith.
Faith will keep us together for eternity, but for the world we live in right now it is about time for you and I to say goodbye. Our District Superintendent called me on Thursday and requested my presence in the United Methodist Center on Friday to hear about my new appointment. I will complete my journey in the Bonfield Grand Prairie Parish at the end of June and Debbie and I will begin traveling a new path.
Thomas was one of those who trusted more in his eyes than any other sense. Didn’t his heart tell him that Jesus was was standing right in front of him? Was he so spiritually blind he could not see his savior. I know you people believe Jesus is with you because like that man on the train I thought I came here to help you see but it turns out you all helped me.
Leah did not make this decision without consulting me which she does every year. I told her I felt it was time for a new challenge. When I received the call it was still a shock because we never know what a day will bring. I ask you know to trust in God, have faith in Jesus your savior. He is standing right here among you and knows the needs of this church. God will never abandon you, He will ask that you walk a while without seeing and have faith that He guides your steps into tomorrow. I want you to be excited about the possibilities that tomorrow might bring.
It was due to Jesus tremendous ability to see God’s light that he accepted the responsibility to come to earth and save us all. Shall we accept John’s challenge to us to shine the light of Jesus wherever we go and have faith in tomorrow? I know that you will. Because where there’s a way there is the Way.
Leader: Go forth in peace. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all
People: And also with you.