Thursday, April 18, 2013

and the Lame shall walk

My Sunday School ladies and I are making our way through Nehemiah, noting his faithfulness as he answered God’s call to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  God gave him a vision –compassion for His people who were hurting, living sinful lives behind unfortified walls.  Nehemiah, if you recall, was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, living in Shushan the palace in Persia.  In fact, he had lived his whole life in Persia, his family more than likely not returning to Jerusalem 70 years earlier when the Jews were granted freedom to return from exile.  Yet, Nehemiah was a Jew and Jerusalem was the home of his people; in fact, when his brother brought him word of the great affliction of the people who were left in Jerusalem and their broken down wall and burned gates, he wept, fasted, and prayed.  What he does next, however, is worth our attention.  He gets up, God answering his prayers by telling him of the work he is to do, asks Artaxerxes for permission to work on the wall, and goes to work, enlisting the help of everyone –from carpenters to apothecaries to priests to the daughters of the sonless men.  In 52 days, the wall is rebuilt, and Nehemiah begins his greater assignment –bringing the people back to the law which brings them to repentance. 

In a world in which there is Steubenville and Gosnell , we question How and Why and seem to forget that it’s all Sin and broken walls and burned gates and afflicted people.  And we wonder at the state of the world and gawk at headlines and make status updates of our “thoughts being with the hurting.”  Maybe we utter prayers.  Maybe we weep.  Do we fast?  Do we listen for His voice?  Do we rise to the calling of the wounded, His People who are perishing who have forgotten Him.  Do we take them back to the Word, to the Living Word, to the One WAY?  Do we help them fortify walls and rebuild burned gates?

In Acts 3, we read of another gate, this time an entrance to the temple within the walls of Jerusalem.
2And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple."
This story, of the lame man, grips me.  Maybe I see my little boy, challenged from his mother’s womb, born 2000 years before external fixators and shoe lifts and 8-plates and the Sinai hospital, sitting at that gate, carried there on the arms of friends.  Maybe I see him, limping and disgraced, cup lifted to those headed to the temple.  Maybe I pray that someone looks at him, really looks at him, before entering that gate called Beautiful and leaving him hurting and alone.  Maybe I pray that I wouldn’t have left him there lame and broken by sin.  That I would have SEEN him, would have realized that he was one of HIS children.  Maybe I pray for eyes to see ALL HIS CHILDREN to carry them to the gate, to the Christ, who alone can HEAL ALL WOUNDS.  That when I read of Boston and Texas, I get off of facebook and put my face to THE BOOK, my HEART to the heavens, and MY HANDS to SERVICE -- to the carrying of the lame to the KING, maybe not in Boston, but here, next door, next pew, next classroom, next to me on the bleachers at the JV game. 

Peter and John meet this lame man.  Not only do they look at him, they tell him to look at them.  And they perform a miracle in the Name of the MIRACLE MAKER:  “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”  They extend their hands before he can even answer and raise him on his feet –“immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.”  Do you need strength to stand today?  Are your feet and ankle bones taxed with anxiety, with fear, with guilt, with remorse, with doubt?  There is ONE whose HAND extends to YOU.   He will give you strength.  Are you HIS EYES today?  Are you carrying, extending?  Or are you on your way to worship, yet never see? 

One day this youngest boy of mine will stand in a kingdom with feet and ankle bones strengthened and whole, with a praise for HIS KING that I, with ten toes and aligned tibias and femurs, cannot fathom.  His weakness here will make his walk through that gate called BEAUTIFUL there all the more sweet.  While we are HERE, we must drag ourselves to Him, wall restorer, gate fortifier, and carry as many with us as outstretched arms can hold.