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Because Jesus Saved My Soul

This entry will be a bit of a change of pace from my other pieces. I prefer to write about topics pertaining to theology, Christian worldview and tough Bible questions. While this post will touch on each topic, this will primarily be about the convictions that drive me to write and minister.
                        Feelings and convictions are hard to describe through any medium, especially written word. We never actually describe the emotion we are referring to when we talk about an emotion, generally we ask the audience to recall it. It is important to assess the convictions of the people who comment on God’s Word as those convictions are what makes their commentary trustworthy or not. It is of great personal importance to publish about what my own convictions are. This has been quite the undertaking as I terry to describe a novel set of events and feelings to you, my audience.
            If I have not had the pleasure of shaking your hand, there are some physical attributes of mine that are worth noting. I have a condition called Cerebral Palsy; I came to be this way by a cardiac arrest brought on by birth complications. Without going down a neuroscience rabbit hole, the brain doesn’t do well without oxygen and doesn’t repair itself. It does however, get to allocate blood to the areas of the brain it wants to preserve. By God’s Grace, I was resuscitated only incurring damage to the motor cortex, or movement, part of my brain.
            My condition presents through impaired coordination and uncontrolled muscle contractions which can be transient or sustained. This effects my ability to speak, words are often slurred, and consonants are truncated. My gate is slow and without predictable cadence. One or both arms will flare out without intent, and it is often too much work to bring them back to my side. I struggle with every simple task from opening doors to feeding myself.
            For most, theological questions are pushed to the back of the mind, they are perplexing and seemingly have no impact on someone’s faith. I, on the other hand, face a reality of unrelenting suffering which I am reminded of with each passing moment. I could not bear the dissonance of a loving God creating a world with so much suffering. This led me to stray from my faith, concluding that no such god existed. Although this dilemma was hard to reconcile, I found it even harder to recon with the idea that I had survived a 45-minute cardiac arrest by pure luck.
            Looking back, I marvel at how large a step of faith I took through this period. I had concluded that there was an answer to the question of how a loving God and suffering both existed, regardless of my knowledge of it. I marvel not because I had such great faith, but when I recognized how I needed Him, the Lord gave me the faith to lean on Him. With that so began my first steps in understanding Who I would come to know as my Sovereign Creator.
I found early assurance in the burning bush encounter of the opening chapters of exodus, but I began making headway when I came to John 9. Here’s a quote for reference-
“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:1-3)
            There are a few things to be unpacked here and from those things will come a cascade of implications (hint: this paragraph may be worth reading twice). First, Jesus says that this is how God made him, like the rest of creation, he was made to glorify the Lord. Second, this was not because of sin. It is worth noting that Jesus does not say “this is not a punishment for sin” but that sin is irrelevant completely. Finally, although it is a small detail, let it not be forgotten that it seems like blindness is a problem.
            To address the first point, it is worth looking back at the Creation account of Genesis 1. Through the first five days God creates the Earth and all of it’s life and calls it “good”. The sixth day however, sees God create man in His Image, man is given dominion over all Creation and is called “very good”; exceptional over all creation. What is so profound about this passage is that it implies that some characteristic of God, who is perfect, is reflected in the man’s blindness.
(If you’re like me and need a minute to sit with that, go ahead, take your time, come back when you are ready.)
            To consider the involvement, or lack of, sin in the man’s blindness, It is easily ascertained that his blindness is not caused by the sin of him or his parents. Since the fall of man in early Genesis, the reaches of sins corruption have sprawled far and wide. In stark contrast, Jesus is saying that the blindness is an affect of God’s will, not sin. If this is so, then his blindness is not an implication of sin’s corruption of the world.
            This passage then offers great insight on what sin effects and what it doesn’t. Sin is not the cause of the man’s blindness, neither by punishment, nor by corruption. There still seems to be a problem with the man’s blindness, so what is the problem exactly? Have you ever wondered if the problem was that you saw a problem at all? The notion of how sin misleads us to look for beauty in what is perverted and broken is commonplace. What is less often considered but is just as prevalent is than sin misleads us to find brokenness in the beauty of God’s creation.
            I for one was of the same thought, I was uncomfortable beyond measure and anything that made me feel this way was not good. While many chose a religion based on what feels “right”, I was faced with the fact that everything I believed about my life was demonstrably false. Instead of concluding my own thoughts, I will say that the Lord has truly conformed my affections to fit His. To close, I will quote Paul who is described in Acts as being so Spirit-filled, that men would be healed after touching his handkerchief.
“On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:5-10)
Insofar as my disability defines my life, how much more does my Savior define it.