Forest Lake Talks

In the Darkness

April 14, 2020

By Jim Rowell

Isaiah 42:16-20 John 9:1-41

Since Childhood Helen Keller grew up blind, deaf and unable to speak. Yet, through the patient work of one dedicated person, Helen was able to make a meaningful contribution to the world through her writing, teaching and inspirational example. In her autobiography, Keller records the endless days of anticipation and despair, waiting for someone to draw her out. Then she describes the day she first met the person who would do just that; life-long friend and teacher, Anne Sullivan. She writes: “Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in and the great ship, tense and anxious groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen?” “I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding line and had no way of knowing how near the harbor was. LIGHT, GIVE ME LIGHT; was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour!” “I felt approaching steps; I stretched out my hand, as I supposed to my mother. Someone took it, and I was caught up and held close in the arms of her who had come to reveal all things to me, and more than all things else, to love me.” This tender meeting between teacher and pupil on March 3, 1887, was the turning point in six year old Helen’s life. Now in our passage, the blind man of John chapter 9 has a similar encounter. For years he had sat in the streets, a castaway from society, his soul was aching for the touch of light and love. Then one day he heard the approaching footsteps of Jesus, who, with the touch of compassion, gave him new eyes. Jesus graciously gives him sight! The focal point of this chapter rests on a beggar with congenital blindness. A man who never had seen the waves of the sea, never had seen a tree or a flower blossom. Never had seen sunsets and the awe-inspiring architecture of the temple. He had been in total darkness. 1 On this Saturday evening before Easter, the world had gone dark. The light had been extinguished, or at least that is what the disciples thought. There is no mention of them or of Saturday. All is dark, there is no church, no way, no ministry, all is in despair. We are not told that any of them even visited Jesus’ tomb until they are told on Sunday morning that the stone was rolled away and Jesus’ body was gone. It was over, the three years of being with Jesus was over and there was nothing to look forward to. Have you ever felt that way? All is lost, all is over, what is the point to this life? What is the point of this world? This is a dark night, a lost hope! The Pharisees interrogate the beggar and his parents about the episode. They were upset because they were told that his happened on the Sabbath. In the end, they dismiss the healer as a law-breaker, how can he possibly be from God when he heals on the Sabbath. But others see this happening with different eyes. Here is the watershed that divides those who are locked into legal prejudices, stubbornly protecting their “sacred cows,” from those who are struggling to be open to what God might do in some unexpected way or place. Going back to Helen Keller, she writes late in her autobiography the following: “We walked down the path to the well house, attracted by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water from the well and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over my hand, she spelled into the other hand the word water. First slowly, then rapidly.” “I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers in the palm of my other hand. Suddenly, I felt a misty conscienceness, as of something forgotten. A thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful, cool something that was flowing over my hand.” That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it on fire! There were barriers still, it is true, but barriers that could, in time, be swept away. That is the way God works, in His creation, in this world and with us. Just when we see no hope, He comes to us. 2 Jesus does that for our lives, He will make our lives blossom like Aaron’s rod. He will give us joy and give us reason to live, longing for a new day to come. The Word that became flesh can incarnate every dark corner with His light. Christian, look to the morning. The light will rise again! And give us more than we could ever dream of. Thanks be to God! Amen.

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