Burden, Blessing and Opportunity
This article appeared in the September 23 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle
© 09.21.10 By D. Eric Williams
If the man born blind (and healed by Jesus), had been less perceptive he would have focused on his new found ability to see to the exclusion of the greater blessing awaiting. You see, a burden removed is a blessing but the task for which it is lifted is greater; to receive one's sight is a blessing, but to serve the Lord is far better.
One of the reasons we fail to produce godly fruit is because we fail to recognize the tasks prepared for us while laboring under a burden. You struggle for years to make ends meet but when you finally see the light of day you do not serve the lord with the spiritual 'oomph' developed during the times of financial scarcity. You groan beneath the burden of fractured relationships and when the Lord blesses you with reconciliation you thank him for his mercy but neglect the service you have been prepared for. You battle habitual sin until the Savior gives you a breakthrough yet your rejoicing never moves beyond thankfulness for your new found freedom. What if the blind man had acted the same way? What if he had failed to cross swords with the Pharisees and simply capitulated for the sake of peace? After all, why involve himself in a conflict that would only serve to diminish the happiness of his special day? He certainly wasn't going to convert the religious leaders. The crowd wasn't in any hurry to abandon the synagogue and follow Jesus. Why not enjoy the blessing and just go with the flow? Why? Because that wasn't the reason he was healed. He was healed that the works of God should be revealed in him. Works plural: the work of healing and the work of bearing witness.
In his letter to the church at Ephesus Paul says we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). Our new birth includes the capacity to work on behalf of God's kingdom. We are prepared for those good works by the circumstance the Lord leads us though. We are sharpened, strengthened and God oriented as we bear the burdens of life and we are supposed to launch into the grace of good works as soon as the burden is lifted. We fail to do so because we chaff under the yoke of hardship and fail to develop the kingdom qualities Christ desires. Then, once the particular obstacle course is completed, we refuse to make use of what we learned. Thus, time and again we miss the opportunity to have the works of God revealed in us.
When your financial burden is lifted, look for an opportunity to serve the Lord and his Body with the spiritual brawniness you've acquired during your workout. It may be as simple as coming along-side a brother who is having similar struggles. Offer insight learned while in the crucible and commit to informed prayer on behalf of your brother. If the Lord leads, you may want to offer a class on managing household finances at your church.
When you emerge from the labyrinth of a muddied relationship, keep your eyes open for the opportunity to continue revealing the works of God in your life. Again, it may be you are able to encourage a fellow Christian in a similar situation who has reached the edge of despair. Glorify God by sharing your experience and committing to pray.
When you conquer a besetting sin, continue the victory celebration by helping others who are struggling. The Lord may lead you to share your insights with others individually or he may prompt you apprise a wider audience.
In every case (and many others you might imagine), the healing ought to lead to further work on behalf of God's kingdom.
Next week: what limit spiritual muscle?