Glimpses of Grace and Truth...In John’s Gospel, we hear early about what Jesus’ disciples saw and heard. John says that in Jesus, they even saw God’s glory, full of grace and truth. As we discussed Sunday, we hear in John 20:20 that the disciples saw the Risen Lord (what I call a biblical 20 -20 vision), and they rejoiced greatly. A few verses later,
Jesus describes something better than 20-20 vision when he tells Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” I learned what this meant during an elementary camp at Lakeshore.
A tradition of the last night or two of Lakeshore is the Talent Show. Kids in a cabin will band together to do anything from card tricks, skits, lip sync, or play/sing a song. In that tradition, Cabin 4 had signed up to do something as a group. When the MC called for Cabin 4, only three girls got up and walked to the stage. When the third girl realized that the rest of her cabin was still sitting, she quickly went and sat back down. When girls one and two got to the stage, they both realized they’d been abandoned by their cabin mates. That’s when girl #2 decided that she wasn’t doing it either. She walked back to sit with her cabin, confident that girl #1, was right behind her. But girl #1, whose name was Bethany, just stood there. Several adults, camp counselors, and volunteers whispered loudly to her, “It’s OK Bethany, you don’t have to do it.”
But then something happened. Instead of looking out at a big crowd, instead of looking at her cabin mates who’d abandoned her, Bethany looked down at the floor (I’m pretty sure she was praying). Then as she raised her head up, she began singing the song her cabin had planned to sing: “I stand to praise you, but I fall down on my knees. My spirit is willing but my flesh is so weak.” By the time she got to the end of that first verse, her entire cabin had found the courage to rush up and join her. It did not stop there. As they went to the chorus of “Light the Fire in my soul, fan the flames, make me whole,” another 20-25 people had joined her. By the time we finished the song, her entire elementary camp—of campers, counselors, staff and leaders—had joined Bethany. And it all came down to the faith of one nine-year-old girl. When the situation came down to what she would do, Bethany acted based on what she believed instead of what she saw. Modern science has helped us all understand the value in “seeing is believing...” and that understanding has lead to so many breakthroughs in science and other fields. And yet, all of us also understand that we often believe without seeing. We believe that hitting our thumb with a hammer any day of the week will hurt, and thus don’t have to see if the results on Thursday are different than Saturday. We believe that brushing our teeth, taking a vaccination or exercise does have a positive effect on our health, rather than “taking our chances.” Jesus wanted his disciples, then and now, to know that seeing is believing, but that it truly is more blessed when we believe even when we haven’t seen. If you’ve had trouble “seeing Jesus” lately, keep studying your Bible, keep on praying, keep on serving, and we can assure you that the blessings of faith in our Risen Lord will be yours now and forevermore.
Join us this Sunday as we worship the Risen Lord. And bring a friend: Ed