Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Sixteen-Word Story

passing by
cried out
be quiet
cried more
stood still
came near
received sight
followed Him

I'm only giving you sixteen words because I want you to read this story in Luke 18:35-43. But oh, how those sixteen words talk! They tell more than just one man's story from long ago. They tell the story of everyone who has ever chosen to follow Christ.

PASSING BY - Sooner or later, everything passes your way. You will be exposed to the entire menu of life. People will pass by you. Ideas, philosophies, information, opportunities, temptations, doctrines, gimmicks, scams, pleasures...will all glide by like ducks at a shooting gallery. And one day - someday - Jesus will pass by you. Maybe He already has and your story has already been written beyond these first two words to the next two or ten words. But if not, be assured - Jesus WILL pass by you. Be ready. Don't miss it. Don't ignore it. Don't bite the apple you've been tossed from the orchard-keeper of lies.

CRIED OUT - We all cry out in our own way. It may not look or sound the same to the eye or ear, but the message of the heart is the same. Our emptiness and neediness causes our soul to weep.

BE QUIET - Just as sure as the entire menu of life will pass your way, you can expect with equal certainty that the maitre d' of life will shush you. You ask the wrong question and you will be shushed. You try to deal logically with the issues of life and you will be shushed. Go against the flow of society and you will hear the collective ssssshhhhhhh's of life. Sadly, the story ends here for many people. Jesus passes by and they cry out. But once shushed, they forever remain silent. They draw their filthy beggar's blanket around their shoulders and retreat to silently begging for hope.

CRIED MORE - But the heart that picks up the scent of eternal hope cannot be silenced! Don't be shushed by the world. Don't be ashamed to cry out like some helpless, vagrant soul. You are both. So am I. Had Jesus never passed by this planet, Venus should be renamed "Hope" because earth would be 25.7 million miles beyond it. But He did pass by. When the world holds its finger up in firm fashion to shush you, cry louder. Because what happens next is worth it.

STOOD STILL - He who was in motion became motionless. At the sound of the cry, He stopped. You cry, God stops. You call for Him, you get His attention. Every time. Jesus stood still. I remember the night He stood still for me. He was passing by my bed around midnight when I was fifteen. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I cried out to Him. He stopped. He stood still for me. He will stand still for you.

CAME NEAR - Jesus commanded that they bring the man of this story to Him. And the man came near. I don't know that we fully comprehend the depth of that statement. Do we realize all that it took for man to ever come near to God again once sin had entered the world? But there is a Bible truth written in James 4:8 that is true no matter where you put it in the Bible: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." Nothing else matters until you do. Let me say that again, but notice the word I emphasize. Nothing else matters until YOU do. Not your parents. Not your preacher. Not your president. Not your nation. You. The hope of your life boils down to you and Jesus...together.

RECEIVED SIGHT - There are different ways to see. We see the physical with our eyes, but everything else with our hearts and minds. "Receive" and "sight" are mentioned together three times in three verses. It was the greatest issue of this man's existence and Jesus gave him what he asked for...and more. His eyes were able to see, but they were not alone. His heart, his mind, and his soul received sight as well. Jesus mentioned the key to this idea of receiving sight: "your faith has made you well." What faith? I didn't see any faith. Did you? Oh wait...now I see it. I see it in the first thing the blind man did.

FOLLOWED HIM - The most challenging portion of our story lives in those two words. It is the challenge waiting for us the moment the alarm clock goes off. It is the daily, hourly, and moment-by-moment choice of life. Though I BEGAN following Him, am I still? Will I now? Will you? He gave us sight so we could see the path and follow His steps. Yet we are so tempted to look elsewhere. Follow Him. Keep writing your story. Don't let it end with anything less than the words of Jesus saying to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Two of the last three words of Luke 18 bring the perfect benediction to our story...

Perry Crisp

No comments: