A Face Full of Mud

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Sometimes, we ask God for a miracle, and we end up with a face full of mud.

Many of us suffer greatly in this life. And in the midst of this suffering, we pray for assistance, for Divine intervention. We pray to Jesus our Healer to work a miracle of healing for us or for another.

Why not me? Why not this? Why not now?

Often, so often, our prayers are met with a no. Or worse, silence. When we are suffering deeply, knowing Jesus is indeed the One who Heals, yet remaining unhealed ourselves can be immensely painful. It can feel like rejection, like forsakenness. It can lead us to that feeling of abandonment that Christ experienced on the cross: “My God, why have you forsaken me?!” I know the pain of that cry.

Today’s Gospel passage has taught me a lot about that cry. Because sometimes, as we see in the Gospel, sometimes the way God works His miracles looks a whole lot like a face full of mud.

Unlike most of Jesus’ other miracles of healing, this miracle is not neat and tidy, it is dirty…literally. Jesus spits on the ground to create mud and rubs it all over the blind man’s eyes.

Additionally, this miracle does not take place immediately at Christ’s touch or word—it is delayed. Only after the man leaves Jesus and follows His instructions to wash the mud off does the miracle occur. There is a time of waiting. There is a time of uncertainty.

This is my word of encouragement for those of us who cry out for healing and are left without it: Maybe the answer isn’t a “no,” but a “not yet.” Maybe it isn’t the neat, tidy, miracle that allows us to “drop our crutches” at the door, which in truth is what most of us desire. Maybe it is a slow unfolding that we barely see or a set of circumstances that just don’t seem like they’ll lead to our healing—such as a face full of mud. Maybe Christ isn’t even focused on our physical, practical healing, because what He desires more is our spiritual healing and He’s going after that first. As a result, maybe we won’t get the healing we desire until we reach eternity. And that is hard to understand when met by the God-Who-Heals-and-yet-Won’t.

Our path is still the path of the blind man. Choosing to trust Jesus, even with a face full of mud. Following His lead, even when that means walking away without our miracle. And being ready to see His healing work unfold in our lives. We never really know how the Lord is working to answer our cries. But we do know He is. Maybe He just needs time to gather more spit.

Move Your Crucifix

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My mom went home to God a few weeks ago. On a Saturday night, she was moved from ICU to a hospital room. The room had a crucifix on a side wall, in a corner of an alcove. Mom informed (and that is the correct word) the staff that they would need to move the crucifix, as she needed Jesus front and center, in her sightline. She needed her Jesus. Over the next few days, I noticed mom gazing at the crucifix. She was talking with Jesus. This was repeated during home hospice, although the crucifix didn’t need to be moved.

Where is your crucifix? I am not talking about the physical cross on your wall or around your neck. Rather, ask yourself, where is Jesus in my life? Is He stuck in a corner, only to be called upon when times are tough or is He front and center, in your sights each and every day, hour, and minute?

Jesus will always be “in” your corner.

This Lent, you can give up chocolate, or you can choose to strengthen your habit of talking with Jesus. Share your joys and challenges, your dreams and your fears. Speak with Him every day.

Get Jesus out of the corner. It is time to move YOUR crucifix.

Love you mom.

Posted by Michael Ricci with 1 Comments

Change My Heart

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When one gets hurt and injured, we instinctively flee to someone, or somewhere, to find comfort and solace -  a haven, if you will. Once there, one of two outcomes will likely occur: we are comforted because we received the care that was needed, or we seek someone/somewhere else because it did not do it well enough. For the previous, if too much care is given, we may find ourselves developing almost an "Allegory of the Cave" mindset (from Plato), meaning that even though we know there is something more out there (such as pain or suffering once we leave the comforting place), we choose to stay here because it is only safe and comforting. This, however, would breed ignorance to everything else surrounding us, depriving us of a more real life of experiences, or the ability to connect with others in a deeper way. That being said, the other outcome here does not exactly bear great fruit either: jumping from person to person or place to place just to avoid having to hear or experience something we are trying to avoid, which stunts us from being able to grow emotionally or spiritually as well.

During a recent Sustaining the Mission seminar, one presenter talked about how we are afraid to be vulnerable or accept feedback that challenges us to grow more deeply. This got me thinking about an old song that we would hear at home growing up. Now, you'll have to pardon me here in not remembering fully the name or lyrics of the song, but one verse in particular stuck out: "Change my heart, O God!" 

For me, this always meant that we are asking God to change us, making our hearts more true, and changing us into His own image. Finding that haven that we seek for the hardest of times, in God. But God also reveals unto us hard truths that we must be willing to accept and to allow the change that we may pray for to actually take place; it is one thing to simply ask for the change of one's heart to happen, but to actually act upon it and allow that change to take place requires work and dedication. It is from this concerted effort and work that we can find a footing in the raging waters of life knowing faithfully that God will, indeed, change our hearts...but only when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and work to keep ourselves from falling back into our own personal caves. 

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