We are often told to "Walk by Faith. Not by sight." Well, even as a guy with -7.50 vision correction, I regularly refer to my blurry view of the world instead of flying by instruments. I've never claimed to be any kind of spiritual giant in this area and I frequently try to do things under my own power instead of relying on the One who is the source of all power. I supposedly have the 'spiritual gift' of faith, but it's something I sometimes have to work at. Yeah, I know how oxymoron-ish that sounds, but it's all part of the daily struggle to beat the flesh into submission.
There is a story in Scripture about Jesus healing ten lepers:
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy
met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"
When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. (Luke 17:11-14 NIV)
The rest of the story tells of how only one of the ten men returned to thank Jesus. It's that point we're typically reminded of in explanations of the passage. But there's a greater teaching here. Yes, it's indeed been mentioned by many pastors and scholars over the years, but is frequently overlooked.
I've seen the modern-day version of leprosy – people with nubs where fingers used to be, gaping holes where noses once anchored pristine faces, and voids where feet used to give stride and purpose. I've been in rooms full of lepers as their children were being evaluated for intake into homes we were funding. It's a pitiful disease, one where numb, dying flesh robs people of esteem and hope.
Sometimes I put myself into the scene as one of those lepers in Luke's account. Maybe I'm leper number eleven. So, I've heard of this man who touches the 'unclean' and heals them. Because of my status as an outcast and the occasional loss of my body parts, I initially stand away from Jesus and call out to him. He replies that I should go and show myself to the priest, something that only a cured person would do in order to be declared clean.
So, I look back at Jesus and say, "Uh, are you forgetting something?"
Jesus stares at me with a smile and then turns away.
"Yo, Jesus, I've still got things falling off over here. Aren't you going to come over here and do your mojo on me?"
Meanwhile all the other guys have all left, so I start calling out to them also.
"Hey, Ralph, is that your finger over there? Where are you going? The man hasn't done his healing thing on us yet."
And so I not only miss out on the miracle, but the whole point of the miracle.
Yes, nine out of those ten guys weren't grateful enough to even come back and thank Jesus, but they all at least trusted him even though the visible evidence wasn't there. They weren't healed immediately. Rather, they were healed as they went – as they acted upon Jesus' command to go to the priests.
I'm dedicating 2010 to this thought. This year, more than ever, I'm stepping out in faith, being obedient to the call.
And trusting God for the results along the way.