And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
John 11: 4-6
I got the call late January. There was an elderly man who had been found on the brink of death, lying in a pile of trash, a blind beggar without a family.
He needed a doctor, help with paperwork, and a place to live.
And trust me, I did everything in my power to find the right people to fill those needs. I made phone calls and visits. I used all my connections. But in the end, resources were limited and there was still a blind, lame, elderly man who needed a safe place to stay.
And I’m married to a doctor. And we speak the local language. And we had room in our house.
The answer was obvious: “Grandpa” was in need, and we had the means to care for him. At least for a short while before we had to be out of the country again.
I remember the day we brought him home. My girls were busy moving all their toys out of the playroom so that Grandpa would have a comfortable place to sleep. He was hungry and I panicked, so I did what any hospitable woman would do: I made him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
A PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH. I served this to a man possibly suffering from PTSD who had lived for 80 years off of sticky rice, papaya salad, and river fish.
That was the first of many caretaking fails over the next several weeks. I’ve never been great at geriatric services.
But as we talked and got to know each other, Grandpa told us more about his life and we were able to fill in some missing pieces to his story as he grew to trust us.
We learned about the temple where his grandfather had been a monk. We learned about the long history he had serving idols and giving alms. We learned about his tattoos that had been etched into his skin in hopes of bringing good luck from spirits.
And suddenly, the sadness we felt that this man was blind, lame, homeless, and without a family fell secondary to the sadness we felt that this man was living in spiritual darkness.
There was so much he was waiting to receive…and it went FAR beyond whatever material things we could provide him.
I got the call last week. There is a family who has taken over the caregiving for Grandpa, feeding him, bathing him, teaching him.
Grandpa had received the Good News. He is now counted among the saints. And his sins have been completely washed away.
The joy that I have sharing this news brought me back to the verses at the beginning of this post. And I want to tell everyone what I know about my Savior.
One day, THE LAME WILL WALK. THE BLIND WILL SEE. THE POOR WILL BE RICH.
THE DEAF WILL HEAR!
THE WEAK WILL BE STRONG!
THE DEAD WILL BE RAISED!
And friends, this News is the News so many are waiting to receive.
My prayer for this year’s Velvet Ashes retreat is that you will also receive Good News. That you will receive exactly what your heart needs to be renewed in Spirit. That you will find mercy and grace and endless loved poured out on you until it overflows into your community so that others, too, can rejoice in the Hope that is within you.
What Good News are you hoping to receive during the retreat? What part of your life needs to be filled up so that you can continue spreading Good News?