Thursday, February 14, 2013

Faith -- Daddy Said I Wasn't a Beautiful Baby

My daddy tells this story about when I was first born. Mom was in labor 18 hours or so because I was 8 pounds 15 ½ ounces and her first, big, fat baby. Needless to say, I had a cone-head because I was in the birth canal so long. This was back in the day when the daddy would wait in the waiting room, and when he finally got to see me, he’ll tell you that I looked rough. After looking at me, he went to see my momma who asked, “Is she beautiful?” My daddy in his ignorance and belief that he had never lied to his wife before and wasn’t going to start now said, “No, she really isn’t.” Well that dam broke, and I’m pretty sure he regretted his statement. My mom proceeded to tell him that I was pretty and that she had carried me nine months and had been in labor 18 hours, and SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!

These past few weeks I’ve been supposed to be studying the fruits of the Spirit, but I just can’t get focused on it to save my life. I’m constantly being drawn to read Acts, and let’s face it, Acts is one of the most action-packed, fascinating books in the whole Bible. I love to put myself in the shoes of the different characters in this book in order to try to wrap my warped mind around what it must have been like to be there and experience it all. SO, I let my ADHD mind wander through Acts. I PROMISE THIS ALL TIES IN. Just hang in there with me.

In Acts 3, there was a beggar who was picked up by his friends day in and day out and taken to the gate of the temple called Beautiful. To have such faithful friends – what a blessing! The beggar was lame, and Beautiful was the most popular and well-populated gate going into the temple. It was on the east side of the temple getting the morning sun and had shade in the afternoon. And in this place called Beautiful, the lame begged. Sometimes people gave. Sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes people would look at him, but I bet most times they didn’t. We don’t like looking at the unlovely. When he begged, sometimes he would raise his eyes, but I bet most times he didn’t. Think about being in his position. Would you hold your head high? He was considered one of the least in the kingdom, and here he sits at a gate called Beautiful. This is a perfect example of antithesis. Gnarled up, bony, wasted legs attached to a body that can’t earn a respectable living or take care of himself. When I think of Beautiful, I don’t think of seeing beggars. I don’t know about you, but I am so glad that God sees beauty in the gnarled up, bony and wasted. My heart has been in that condition more times than I care to confess. I’ve begged to be touched by him. I’ve had to rely on friends and family to stand in the gap for me when my faith was too weak on which for me to stand. And then God shows up.

So Peter and John walk up to the beggar, tell him to look them in the face, and Peter speaks to the beggar. I wonder how many face-to-face conversations did this beggar have with people entering or leaving the temple on a daily basis. I bet not many. Peter told the beggar he didn’t have silver or gold to drop into his coffer, but what Peter did have, he’d give to him. Peter’s confidence, trust and FAITH in God’s ability to heal the beggar came out in a bold command, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Faith requires action in addition to trust or confidence. It’s one thing to say you believe something, but it is another to actually act upon it. Sometimes growing in our faith requires squelching the fear-talk in our head and disbelief in our heart. Sometimes you just gotta do it. People with ADHD really don’t have a problem in this area…just so you know. Thinking things through is not always our forte. But let’s face it, if God was leading you to start a new ministry or to step out in faith and leave your job and move away from your family, how strong is your faith?

Not only does Peter command the lame to walk, but Peter helps to raise the man to his feet.

You know, this man had to have claimed this spot at Beautiful for years. Why now can he walk but before he couldn’t? Had he not heard about the Savior and his ability to heal? If he had heard, what changed? James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” This lame man had persevered under great hardship his whole life, and maybe he was just desperate enough to grab onto the hope that Peter was giving. Grabbing Peter’s strong arm, the lame is on his feet. His ankles strengthened immediately. His faith – action alongside trust – gave him his health.

Sometimes we have to get to a certain point in our walk, in our relationship with God that we have to lay down what we know and see and grab onto the thing for which we hope and dream. The lame could have said, “I’ve been this way since I was born, and nothing is going to change here today by your telling me to walk.” But he didn’t say that. When Peter extended his arm towards the lame, the lame man could have coward away and refused to take his arm. But he didn’t do that either.

Persevere through your doubt to act upon what God is calling you to do. He doesn’t want you to be in the same place you were last year. He wants to work in your life, growing your faith. Now that is a beautiful thing because Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it completion...”

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