Month: March 2018

I Am A Witness

I am a Witness

Mark 3:1-5; Luke 6: 6-10; 10:1, 2, 9

I was there, witnessed a miracle.
Even now I can scarce believe what my eyes saw,
What I now know.
But it was my best friend who was healed of what was incurable.
And it has changed both our lives for ever.
Please do listen, and share with me our joy..
We’ve been best friends since childhood.
He’d never fussed about his disability, –
His right hand, (why did it have to be his right hand?), severely withered,
Utterly useless.
But it didn’t stop us playing games, running ragged and breathless up and down the hills, laughing and forgetful of
any limitations.
Yet there were other times his natural compensation could not cope,
And I’d be there, or his parents, to help.
I loved him for his joy, his lack of self-pity.
I sometimes felt he was more of a man than me.

I’d often wondered why he had been so afflicted.
His life had been blameless, – indeed so much better than mine.
His parents as far as I’d known them had always been good.
Perhaps a distant ancestor had done wrong.
It seemed a harsh thing for him to suffer, – especially as there was no possible release.
There was no way out, no healing, no hope.
What sin must have caused that?
It seemed so unfair.
Why did so many people have to suffer with illness or misfortune?
Living lives of acceptance and managing.
Yet the paradoxical question:
How is it that the sick and disabled often seem so much better than we?

That Sabbath we’d met and entered the synagogue together as usual.
There was a lot more interest and buzz about the place that day.
Jesus of Nazareth had been invited to address us.
We’d both heard about him, – some talk or remark about him being the Messiah or Christ, – but so unlikely, –
Nazareth was only a village and that not many miles away, and by what little we’d heard he was no more than a
carpenter’s son. Still, there must be something about him to have created this interest.
The Pharisees and Scribes knew that we would be there, and that day when we arrived there were nudges and
knowing looks.
One of them asked us to sit at the front.
We chatted for a bit. A fly tried to settle on my friend’s face. He brushed at it with his withered hand.
I felt compassion for him, – his handsome looks marred by this senseless deformity.

The service began and went through its normal routines.
The time came for anyone to stand and speak.
From the back a man stepped forward.
He had an air of authority that commanded attention,
His seamless white robe somehow a symbol of his natural stature.
This had to be Jesus.
I suddenly realised it didn’t matter what village he came from.
He came from God.
As he took his place his love seemed to shine and when he spoke that same love
permeated everything he said. The scriptures became alive, meaningful.
I’d always thought that the kingdom of God was something to come,
Some far off event, powerful, as a result of mighty battles, with a great commander to
the fore.
But this kingdom was altogether different, stronger, immediate, grounded in love.
I glanced at my friend.
He too was watching enthralled, – his eyes shining, accepting every word spoken.
They were fine words indeed, – but was that it?
Comforting, but without proof, fine words were all they were.
I suddenly thought what if he did prove them true? How would he? What evidence
would I want? How would anyone prove the kingdom of God here and now?

“Rise up and stand forth in the midst.”

In the sudden bewilderment of being brought back into the present I thought for a moment Jesus was talking to me.
But no.
My friend levered himself up, and stood alone in front of Jesus.
There was a stillness, an expectancy borne of his undoubted authority.
Jesus turned to the Scribes and Pharisees.
I could see them shifting uncomfortably. It was as though he had read their thoughts and they knew that he knew
what they were thinking, and in some way those thoughts would be exposed.
He spoke to them directly:

“I will ask of you one thing”

He paused a second, but that pause seemed to contain a lifetime of moment.

“Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?”

He looked round each of them in turn, the silence and expectancy deafening.
We all knew what was going to happen.
I looked again at my friend.

“Stretch forth thine hand.”

I said I was a witness.
But how can you own up to seeing the impossible.
Not “Stretch forth thine withered hand”, but “Stretch for thine hand” – as God gave thee.
He obeyed Jesus’ command.
His arm extended, fingers uncurling, filling out fully formed.
Everyone was looking at one another, knowing it was happening yet still
disbelieving.
My friend’s face shone as his hand was restored whole as the other.
He stood erect before Jesus, giving thanks amidst his awe and wonder, looking
from one hand to the other, back again to Jesus. The love was palpable.
He glanced round, saw me, shouted my name!
Leapt forward, his hand outstretched to take mine,
Right hand to right hand.
What mixed emotions I had! Joy for my friend, but ashamedly in that millisecond of doubt half frightened to grasp what may have been only my illusion.
His handshake was firm, firmer than mine.
And then I responded truly.
Grip to grip, laughing and praising and dancing with him in the midst of the synagogue.

No dream but reality, but dear God how? I’d asked for proof, and here it was! The only proof possible! No wonder the scribes were scowling! Here was true authority! No longer mere words, but the consciousness of God’s kingdom revealed as here, seen in health and completeness, just as Jesus had been preaching. Faced with the presence and power of health, sickness became impossible! Health the reality and sickness the now dispellable illusion. Dear friend, – this happened, I am a witness. The withered hand is no more. As if it had never been!
Everyone there watched and saw! It scared the Pharisees! It confirmed their worst fears, they could not understand, nor did they want to! Jesus was challenging their way of life. He is challenging my way of life! But look, Jesus had proved his words! And I am a witness!

There have been so many healings since, – blind, deaf, others that were maimed, and yes, all have been healed! Oh let me hold you by your hand in that same love that Jesus is living and sharing right now! Our lives have changed so much! This was not a one-off miracle, a magician’s trick. It was and is the eternal presence of the Christ. The
recognition of Love, God’s love for you and me. The true “Our Father” of which Jesus is speaking and commanding us all to pray, lifting our thoughts above human heredity to our true and guiltless origin. We are all even now the sons of the one God, – that’s what he is saying, that is what he is proving, what we are now proving.

Dear friend, our true Father is Love, and God made us all to witness His Love, to witness what we truly are. Whatever challenge we may be holding on to, we can let go, for we are witnesses right now that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto us all.

I know it to be true.

Look On Us

Look on us

“And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said “Look on us.”

Not the look of worthless pity gave they,
That makes more miserable a man already Satan-bound;
Nor of contempt, the “I am better than thou”, –
The hurried steps to leave alone as found.
NO! Here an active deed of unselfed love.
Peter saw him, and spiritually discerned with surest gaze
The perfect man, whole, complete, a fellow child of God.

“Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee:
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”

And he saw too, lifted up by Peter’s knowing praise
To see himself as whole indeed, no longer to live
Upon the alms of man, but in the freedom of the Lord!

“And he leaping up stood, and walked….
Walking and leaping and praising God.”

So too for us; may we so leap to see:
To walk with God, is Love’s reality.

Darius Prays for Daniel

Darius prays for Daniel

My name is Darius, I am rightly called king
I have total control over everything.
I have an hundred and twenty princes for me
And place in charge Daniel for all men to see.
The first of three presidents he is at the top:
And all queries and problems with him they will stop.
I trust him completely, for his spirit is true.
There is no other man that this job can so do.

I am honoured by this appointment, but recognise the hand of my God. It is He has given me all I have. Small is my duty to pray, but huge my reward. When I look towards Jerusalem it reminds me of my ultimate allegiance. I honour God with my total love and obedience, and He gives me of His Spirit. I honour Darius with my duty, and he knows he can trust me.

But I am not alert to the factions that brew
To the small-minded men that in jealousy stew.
They see Daniel a foreigner “falsely” preferred.
And they plan and they plot to observe him interred.
They flatter me greatly, and I’m caught of my guard.
So I sign their decree that would leave my life scarred.
I try to escape from this foul deed I have done.
But I’ve signed a death warrant for whom I’d call son.

How can I bow to Darius? This was not his wish, but it is now the law. It is a law based on hatred of what I represent. Do I show obedience to this law of the land, or the commandments of God? I know the consequences. I cannot forsake God, and He will not forsake me.

I knew that this Daniel would not bow to me;
His God was his God, and none else would there be.
He must have been tempted when he knelt down to pray
To do it in secret ‘til the thirtieth day!
The decree it must stand, for I signed it as king,
I cannot save him, I can’t do a thing……
I speak to him: “Daniel. Please oh forgive me!
But thy God whom thou servest He will save thee.”

I pray to God and feel His strength. My enemy catches me in his trap. But I’d rather be caught by man praying to God than be seen by God praying to man! God is watching o’er me. I am thrown down into the lion’s den, and as the stone seals me in I hear the king’s words, and they comfort me. He is forgiven. I feel no fear.

I seal with my signet the stone covering the den.
My heart it was heavy: lions hungry for men!
That night all sleep left me, for I knew I’d done wrong.
I prayed that his God was all powerfully strong.
But was he now dead, ripped to pieces, no more?
Has his God saved his life from the fear and the gore?
I rise early and call from the depth of my fears.
He answers! Alive then! And in joy I shed tears!

The leading lion stops in his tracks. We exchange looks. My innocence met by his. They all lie down, and I lie down with them, my arm around the neck of the most powerful. The den is filled with the aroma of Love. I put God first, and He has put me first.

He believed in his God, and no hurt has touched him.
He survived through the night when my hope had turned dim.
O Daniel I see now that your God is supreme
He has answered your call and defeated that scheme:
I order the death of all those that sought ill,
The lions were hungry! They’ve eaten their fill!
I sign new decree and I commit myself now:
To the one God of Israel all people shall bow!

Dan 6:25-28
Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, ………

 

Comment: When we align ourselves with God, we align ourselves with the only power there is, and the mortal sense of power is destroyed. Love knows no hate, and when we know the Allness of Love, we cannot be touched by the nothingness of what isn’t there.

The pictures of Daniel in the Lions’ Den are by Riviere.