Thursday, January 4, 2007
Monday, January 1, 2007
The gospel of Matthew follows them on their marathon mission, and though they had good reason to be tired, remarkably they show no hint of it. Matthew says they spent two years following the star, hunting Jesus down. I have never followed a star before, let alone for two years, but I can imagine that it may be like trying to find the hypothetical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, next to impossible. So I would probably talk myself out of this on the first day.
However, the wise men had enough energy and motivation, not just to walk for one day, but for seven hundred and thirty days! Their reason? “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” (Matthew 2:10)
How would you react if you saw a star that moved? Would you refuse to follow it? “Not today. Maybe tomorrow. I had a bad night sleep and I have a crick in my neck.” The wise men most definitely had this option during their two year pilgrimage. Or would you be so excited that nothing could keep you from getting to that pot of gold?
What star are you following? Where do you think it will lead you? How long have you been following it? Are you willing to follow it to its end, or are you about to crash? I am sure these are questions the wise men asked themselves repeatedly. They certainly had enough time to discuss their reasons for doing such a crazy thing. But, what was their motivation? Who had told them to do this crazy thing? What would they receive in exchange for their gold, frankincense and myrrh?
What is faith? What does it meet to act by faith? In the book of 2nd Corinthians, Paul said, “we live by faith, not by sight” (2nd Corinthians 5:7), but what does this mean? What does the Bible say about it? These questions have been asked for generations by millions as they search for meaning in their lives.
In the many miracles that Jesus performed while He was on this earth, faith was of utmost importance to him. When explaining to His disciples why they were not able to heal somebody, Jesus replied, "You didn't have enough faith. I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed (the smallest seed of any plant), you could say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible." (Matthew 17:20 – New Living Translation) This article is not going to explain how to acquire faith, because I am often praying for more. However, I know how to get it. By believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, “who gives generously to all without finding fault.” (James 1:5 – New International Version)
Mark 10 is one of the many examples where faith is shown and Jesus’ heart is moved enough that he healed the person who had asked for a miracle. This particular man is blind, doing the only thing blind men could do in Jesus day, beg. However, Bartimaeus did something that many blind men in Jesus day did not do, he showed faith that Jesus could heal him.
When we read the story, we learn that faith must be active, so Bartimaeus was active, shouting at the top of his voice to get Jesus attention. Even when people scolded him, swore at him, or demeaned him, he did not stop. As a result, Bartimaeus received what he had been waiting for, for years, the attention of someone who could do something about his immediate situation.
As someone with a disability, I can imagine how Bartimaeus might have felt when someone in the crowd said, "Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." Was he excited? Ecstatic? I do not think the English language has the words to express this man’s joy.
In Mark 10:51, Jesus asks him, “’What do you want me to do for you?’ The knowledge that Bartimaeus’ acts of faith had gotten Jesus attention and that his lowly situation mattered to Jesus was certainly enough to make him cheer up quickly. “Jesus wants to do something for me?” How would you feel if Jesus came into your situation and asked that question? What would you say? Would you have the faith that Jesus could do it?
Getting Jesus attention and answering His questions, were the first two steps towards healing for Bartimaeus. And this remains true for many others who have called on the name of Jesus Christ. Believing that Jesus can do what we ask is the third and often the most difficult stage.
So, what is faith? In one of his many songs, Michael Card, a contemporary Christian artist wrote:
To hear with my heart,
To see with my soul,
To be guided by a hand I cannot hold,
To trust in a way that I cannot see,
That's what faith must be.
The details of your answer may be different from mine. However, the primary meaning of faith is just as the song says. To believe in my heart that God can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine. Do you believe this?
My testimony begins at my birth, on November 27, 1978 when I was born with a life-threatening sickness called Hydrocephalus, which means water on the brain. This meant that while still in the womb, my brain was severely deformed. After a CAT scan, the doctors determined that I had approximately two percent living brain tissue. They said I would be, a person who is unable to do anything for himself - a vegetable. This news came as a great shock to my parents, who were looking forward to starting their new family in their new home on
The doctors continued. “In order for any child to live an ordinary life, they must be born with at least 48 percent brain.” Brain cells do not multiply; the amount of brain tissue a child is born with is the most brain tissue that he/she will ever have.
I was given no longer than one or two days to live. My parents were told by the doctors that surgery could insert a tube (a shunt) that would drain fluid from my head and take pressure off of my brain. However, at that time the procedure was fairly new, plus they could not be certain that it would work perfectly. Even if it did work, they were unable to guarantee that I would live long because of the lack of living brain tissue.
But, my parents believed that
I believe that when
As my story spread, people started to pray and have faith that
After six months of continuous prayer, the doctors were amazed to find that I had 25 percent brain. My parents and many others continued to pray for more. Six months later, doctors again were amazed to find 50 percent brain. By this point, I was a year old and was slowly learning how to do simple things. My parents and those who consistently prayed for me were in awe at what God was doing, full of praise and thanksgiving to him. As people continued to pray on my behalf, the Lord heard their prayers and continued to answer them. Prior to my second birthday, their prayers were answered yet again when doctors took a final CAT scan and found 98 percent brain tissue.
By this time, I was able to do most things that a two-year-old child could do. The only problem, which has persisted since my early days of life, is a severe visual impairment. Doctors have determined on many occasions that I have only two and a half percent vision in my left eye and three percent vision in my right. However, this was enough vision to get me through my first nine years of grade school.
In grade nine while I was thirteen, I suffered a stroke, which paralyzed the entire right side of my body. Before I came out of the coma, doctors in
Soon after the surgery, I awoke from my coma, and went back to school. Though the Special Education Assistants (S.E.A.) at my school now needed to help me overcome memory issues and balance problems in addition to my blindness, they helped me, and I graduated from grade school with my classmates in 1996. That fall, I started a Psychology degree at
Though my parent's originally gave me the credit for the courage I had to go through the many hours of surgery I endured, I give all the credit to
"Nobody did anything wrong," said