Monday, November 9, 2009

Scripture/Thought for the Day

As a counselor at a youth conference, I attended with the youth a musical performance. It was accompanied by a slideshow of The Reflections of Christ. As the music was performed, the pictures moved along in sync. I had seen the original Reflections of Christ works prior to the conference so the slideshow wasn’t anything new, but at one point during the performance I was struck by one of the images. The particular work depicted Christ standing above a kneeling blind man. I was instantly fixated on the grip that the blind man had on his Savior. This was not a grip of desperation, but a grip holding firmly with knowledge of whom it was he clung to and what it meant to hold on with firm faith. He knew who Jesus was, and not by physical sight either. Unexpectedly, tears formed on the rims of my eyelids. I knew that man. I knew that grip. I knew his need. I realize that art is subject to the viewer. As I saw in that representation a man who recognized the Savior and knew to cling to Him, not in desperation but in resolution with rock solid faith permeated by hope and desire, another viewer will experience alternate insights and feelings.

Sometimes life experiences occur that move, change, turn, deepen, lift, carry, sustain, and awaken our inside in ways that words fail to accurately express. Viewing that picture at that particular time stirred some of those deepened feelings. There was moving with in me, and I didn’t understand completely what I was feeling inside.

Time has a way of allowing us to process experiences and grow in understanding. Time pressed forward about a year and a half and I found myself taking my grandparents to visit the original Reflections of Christ exhibit that had again been put on display at the Mesa Art Center. The artist, Mark Mabry was present and handed out small picture cards of some of the selected works. Lo and behold, the blind-man-rock-solid-grip was one of them. On the back of the card, the scripture St. John 9: 2-3 was printed.

St. John 9:2-3

2. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3. Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

I was impressed to find this scripture on the back. My prior experience with the work was even more individualized and significant now as I considered some personal inspiration received…

Many times in recent past years I have felt utterly helpless, plagued by my physical conditions that have had nothing to do with my choosing. The Savior shared the reason for the blind man’s condition, “that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” During my early struggles with Bipolar Disorder, before I even knew that I had it or what was going on with my mind and body, I would plead in prayer with my Father to know if I had done something wrong. If I had, shat was it that I’d done? Was I still doing something wrong? What is/was it!!!? Through my process of pressing forward, I have learned the error of my thinking. Just like the blind man, I hadn’t committed any “sin” that would result with this disorder I possessed. Genetics, chromosome 16 specifically, is the genetic weak link I am physically made of.

As I continued to consider the phrase “that the works of God should be made manifest in him,” another insight struck me. I’d previously considered the “works made manifest” to mean that the blind man would receive his sight by the miracle of Jesus’ restoring his sight. Now, as I saw myself in that blind man, I could see that the implications were also applicable inwardly. The Savior did physically heal the man. It was miraculous; the people did manifest Christ’s works in that physical manner but the lasting, necessary, miraculous, and essential work of the Savior was not that He was to go about healing the sick. His work is a deeper concerning matters of the inner man.

Individually, that blind, non-name-mentioned man had some important lessons to learn in life, just as I do. I don’t think that those changing, turning, deepening, lifting, carrying, sustaining, and awakening experiences were solely accomplished by his miraculous healing. If his physical healing was and is the way that Jesus’ works were/are accomplished, there are precious few that may find themselves recipients of that physical work. Could it have been that “the works made manifest” were personal for that man. Yes his eyes were physically healed and works were performed in front of an inquisitive crowd, but was it that man’s physical blindness that allowed him to truly see the works of God in his life?

I realize that I don’t know this man’s background. This man very well could have just been some random recipient of priesthood power, but I walked away with the understanding that I am that blind man. I have had a plaguing, physical blindness in my life. That blind man as portrayed in the picture had seen works of God in his life. His sure grip and humble kneeling portrayed that. This was before he was even healed. Likewise, it has been during those difficult, plaguing times that I have come to know my Father in Heaven and Savior more deeply. During my blindness His works were made manifest in my life in oh-so-individualized and specific ways. While my physical condition isn’t completely healed (though it is well-cared for now) I have received healing in ways that I didn’t see that I needed. I received some sight (I definitely don’t see all, but some). I have Bipolar Disorder and as I’ve sought, I have seen the works of God made manifest in my life in miraculous, individual, personal ways.

So I leave the scripture with you again:

St. John 9:2-3

2. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3. Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Are you the blind man? Are the works of God made manifest in your life?

Here is a link for the Reflections of Christ Exhibit.

P.S. The blind man picture is number 10.

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