Good morning family.
What a privilege it is to stand before you and add harmony to God’s symphony of Amazing Grace. As people of God, as members of the body of Christ, we are part of this marvelous symphony we all enjoy from our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.
I want to be a witness today on the life altering impact of scars, grace and the less than able bodied. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
Please join me as together we go to the throne of grace in prayer.
Our Almighty God you wove us together while we were in our mother’s womb. You know every hair on our heads, our strengths and our weaknesses. We know you are our strength and redeemer and for that we say thank you. We know our help comes from you and we say thank you. And because you came to us in the flesh, because you walk with us and talk to us we have the faith of a mustard seed that flourishes in living water. And for that we say thank you. And together let the members of the body of Christ say “Amen.”
I am a witness as well as a deliverer of a word today on God’s Amazing Grace: for the Less Than Able-Bodied.
Our text today comes from the Gospel of Mark 2: 1-5 and Mark 2: 10-12. It is a story told in Mark, Matthew and Luke but for today let us look at Mark’s version who frequently accompanied the disciple Peter who was an eyewitness to much of what Peter saw.
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum,
the people heard that he had come home. They gathered
in such large numbers that there was no room left, not
even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.
Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried
by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus
because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof
above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat
the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said
to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
(Mk. 2: 1-5)
But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority
on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you,
get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his
mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed
everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen
anything like this!” (Mk. 2: 10-12)
When I say the less than able-bodied what mental image appears for you? Someone who is bed-ridden? Someone in a wheelchair? Perhaps they have a cane. Perhaps they have an apparatus for an arm or hand. Maybe it’s a prosthesis for a leg – or two. Someone wearing sunglasses to hide their blind eyes? Perhaps aids to enhance their hearing? Those are just images or physical scars you might be able to see. Or maybe you don’t see anything at all – until it happens to you.
I remember asking an acquaintance: are there a lot of people on canes or is it just my imagination? She said “I think it’s kind of like when you get a new car and it’s a color that you thought only you had seen. All of a sudden you begin noticing that color car everywhere. Sometimes you just don’t notice until it happens to you.”
Returning to our text in the Gospel of Mark the less than able-bodied man who was carried by his friends to be healed by Jesus was a paralytic. His friends moved him with a mat.
Let’s notice the number of men who carried the paralytic. Capernaum was his hometown. He had to know people. Four carried him. Was that because there were four sides or did he only have four friends willing to carry him?
This is what I know and I imagine you do too. You can know people but frequently the reaction you get when you find yourself less than able-bodied is that those people will say “call me if you need anything.” And before you can they’re on the phone calling someone else saying, “Girl, she’s sick. Man he’s in bad shape.”
The paralytic in our text is carried by four friends. That sounds about right, doesn’t it? If you counted the people who would respond to you quick fast and in a hurry – out of all the people you know including the folks you grew up with, your frats and soros – and maybe your church members – a handful sounds about right.
Why does the man in our text believe he’s going to be cured? They had heard of His healing power.
Today we have to be careful when we use the words healing vs. curing.
Yes, biblical characters were miraculously cured but I’m talking about being healed.
“I know a lot of people who are cured from their maladies but not healed in their spirit. Others are healed in spirit and with their relationship with God but not physically cured.”
Your healing still points to God as it did for the paralytic man.
Your healing still points to God as the miracles and signs showed in the Gospel of John and throughout the Gospels.
And that’s what I want you to remember. Just as you thought you had one of the few cars there are many. Just as you thought you had a few scars there are many people with scars – some you can see some you cannot. Just as many are looking at you just as we are still reading about those biblical characters. They are watching you to see how you, the faithful, the follower, the believer react to the Holy one who is supposed to heal you in spirit by faith.
What are you supposed to do when you know you are under a spiritual microscope? First know thyself. What I have noticed is that whoever you were before the trauma occurred is intensified after the trauma. If one was faith-filled, determined, hopeful and mindful, one becomes intent on retaining those attributes and overcoming barriers. If, on the other hand, one was needy perhaps the less than able-bodied will have that part of their approach to life magnified. As a divinity student I am intensely aware that there is a lot of gray in between hope and despair. One can be surrounded by loved ones who mean the best but don’t always do what’s best because they simply don’t understand the journey. Furthermore, they may be going on their own journey of seeing someone they love suddenly transformed physically. So, again what are you to do?
Ultimately, for me it comes down to that symphony of Grace and on the other hand the individual instruments we all are as followers of Christ. The Bible is full of prophesy and fulfillment of God’s promises. Remember the paralytic man in our text. Recall Jeremiah 29:11-12 when he prophesized, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you” (NIV).
I have to remember to ”not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4: 6-7).
That reflection allows me to absolve myself of any irritation that may bubble to the surface when I have to adapt physically, open heavy doors and navigate narrow doors and hallways. I know there is a door where God does all the heavy lifting. The Word also says “knock and the door shall be opened” (Matthew 7:8). “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
It is what one does after the trauma that can provide internal strength and be an inspiration to others to look beyond your marginalization to the Almighty, the Healer of the spirit and the Amazing spirit healing grace our God has for all of us. We need Him. We all have scars.
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Denise Franklin, MBA
MDiv Candidate 2018 (Wake Forest University School of Divinity)
Former General Manager, 88.5 WFDD (Public Radio for the Piedmont, NC)