read John 9. One of the things that confuses me most about this world is why the grass is always greener on the other side. What is it about us that makes us so dissatisfied? Why don’t we cherish the things we have? Why do we instead long for the things we don’t have? Why do we, like Eve in the Garden of Eden, hyperfocus on the “One Tree” that God withholds from us, and become disconsolate? Why are we unable to be thankful for all the many trees, and the lush gardens that He does provide? In other words, why do we want to be God, knowing the difference between good and evil, thinking we know what’s best for us?
I don’t know, but we do. I suppose the problem has to be pride. I used to judge Eve and wonder how she could have been so dumb. But now I have empathy for her. I get it. Poor Eve. That apple became to her everything she ever wanted. She probably lost her appetite for all the other fruit. She probably lost her appetite for Adam. She could see only how good the apple looked. She could imagine only how wonderful it would taste. She probably began to die inside, bit by bit, as she thought about that one thing she couldn’t have. No wonder she gave in. I don’t judge her anymore. I just feel really, really badly for her.
Because we all fall prey to the wanting of things that we don’t have – to the point of losing our appetites, our focus and our ability to enjoy the rest of our life. We all find it impossible to trust God in everything. We all think we know the best for our lives. I would love to be able to say that knowing Jesus means we become perfect, but the further along the road I travel with Christ, the more I think it means the opposite. The more I get to know God, the more I discover my need of HIm.
That’s why what resonates for me in the 9th chapter of John is just one simple sentence. In this chapter, we hear how Jesus heals a man born blind. People assume he’d been born blind out of some kind of divine punishment – either for his sins or the sins of his parents. But no, Christ says. His blindness is due to nobody’s sins, but “so that the power of God could be seen in him.” John 9:3. At first, I thought this meant he was born blind so that when Jesus came along He could make him see. But that makes God sound cruel – it makes it sound as if God goes around maiming us just so He can make us fix us and make us gratefully slavishly dependent on Him.
Instead, I think the “power of God” that Christ is is saying could be “seen” in him is the man’s simple one sentence testimony. The religious leaders, desperate to discredit Jesus, ask the formerly blind man to say Jesus is a sinner. Instead, the healed man says: “I don’t know whether he is a sinner…. But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see.” John 9:25.
Sometimes, all we can know is that once we were blind, and now we can see. Sometimes, just this small affirmation is more powerful than we can imagine.
Sometimes, that’s the best we can do.
Sometimes, we just have to hold onto this one truth, to carry us through to the happier times. I once was blind, and now I see. Like John Newman, the former slave trader, our passion bleeds along with the passion of Christ into the immortal lines of “Amazing Grace”: I once was blind, but now I see.
If we have ever had an encounter with the living God, we know what it feels like. If we have ever cried out for God’s help from the depths of our being, we know He always comes in and transports us into a peace that passes all understanding; a place of vision, beauty and love; a place where we discover that His ways are not our ways, and His ways are so much better. His solution comes in His own time – it may not come in the moment that we cry out, but it always comes. And later on, after that encounter, no matter how little we feel we have to give, we can always remember the moment we felt God’s healing touch. We can affirm that moment. I used to live in darkness, and now I have seen the light, and His name is Jesus.
That’s the power of God in us. That simple affirmation packs a punch we underestimate. If we affirm the little we can – I once was blind, and now I see – Jesus does the rest. He comes to find us, just as He did this man after his time of trial, and says: “you have seen me. I am the one speaking to you.”
And there, in the midst of our restlessness, pining, and longing for the things that God, in His wisdom, withholds from us, we discover that the richest fruit of the tree of life has been held out to us all along.
posted by Caroline Coleman in carolinecolemanbooks.com on April 27, 2012