The stakes that tie down the tent that houses the family of God (see Isaiah 54:2) are continually pulled up and moved outward as people all over the world turn in faith from sin and death to Jesus Christ. Tapped on the shoulder by the awesome hand of the Master, men and women throughout the pages of human history have had the breath of God breathe into them the spark of divine life. As He moves within them, they’ve renounced the paths of darkness that their own selfish will would blaze for them and placed their confidence and hope in the sacrificial death and resurrection of God’s Son.
“…He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him Who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15 ESV).
Before coming to Christ, we are so blind that we cannot even see darkness, because darkness is all we’ve ever known. So deaf are we before our hearts are opened that even though He speaks our names, imploring us to turn to life while the door is still opened to us, we cannot recognize His voice. And with spiritual ears that fail to detect and recognize the melodious whisperings of His eternal voice, we dwell in a lifeless state, devoid of the knowledge of the eternal grace of God. Without this life, our greatest aspirations and our most profound achievements leave us still wallowing in the muck of our sinful nature, incapable of any act of worship worth rendering to our Maker.
Yet… the death and glorious return to life of our Savior enables us by faith to begin to spiritually hear what we need most to hear… God’s voice. For a heart that will not respond to God’s call, His loving invitations and remonstrations sound like little more than the “white noise” which constantly cascades down upon us all the day long every day. But just as Jesus personally took a deaf and mute man aside in order to bring hearing and healing to a man’s whose ears seemed dead to the voice of his Maker, He beckons us today to willingly be pulled out of our pointless routines, our ineffectual plans, and our vain pursuits in order that we might be given eyes to see what matters most in life, ears to hear the voice of the One Who loves us most of all, and a voice by which we might lavish thanksgiving and praises upon Him as well as tell others what He can do for them!
“They brought to Him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged Him to lay His hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, He put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, He sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more He charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.’” (Mark 7:32-37 ESV).
One can recognize the tender touch of the Lord’s hand in his or her life by the yearning for more than this life can offer. One may discern His holy presence by the growing sense of horror of one’s own selfishness and sin while awe of His incredible glory swells within our hearts. One can hear God’s invitation to come and know Him by the sudden realization that Jesus’ suffering and death was the only means by which His gift of forgiveness and cleansing could come to us. Even now He yearns to break through our defenses against His love and release us from our bondage to the temporal sphere. How He longs right now, with a heaviness that only the infinite heart of God could bear, for our eyes, ears, and hearts to be opened, sighing heavily to the Father His discontent with humanity’s lostness.
And once our haughty hearts surrender to this amazing invitation, and we’ve been delivered from sure destruction (the fruit of rejecting Him), then everything changes. When we’ve finally been set free from the chains of despair forged by yielding to our pride and selfish inclinations, our tongues are loosed and we may proclaim our praises of the living God Who not only has created us but has moved heaven and earth, as it were, to redeem from us our “wages of sin” (see Romans 6:23). Not only that, but our tongues are unleashed in proclaiming hope to the world.
Does the world resent this hope? Definitely, for in turning to Jesus for life, we must abandon the marketplace of the world, laying down the baubles and worthless trinkets it would have us purchase with our very souls, in order that we may invest all that we have and all that we are in our race to follow Him. Once we’ve been made His children and our eyes are filled only with the loveliness of His grace, success in the world loses its appeal. Once our hearts are cleansed and our minds begin the wonderful process of being made new (see Romans 12:1-2), we no longer think and plan based on our own previous agendas. No longer must we dwell under the thorny hedge of condemnation (see Romans 5:1-2), but we can rejoice that grace has saved us and we no longer owe any debt to the flesh.
Everything is new. Everything is different. Troubles and trials take on only a shallow and temporary taint, and what once ruffled my feathers can only make us laugh now. What once seemed too unbearable and terrible to face now seems small and unimportant. After all, Who holds our future once we’ve come to Christ? The Father does… in a mighty hand that flaming suns cannot scorch, measureless seas cannot drown, and an endless span of years cannot wither away.
I have to agree with those who stood by, watching as the Lord Jesus went about healing and helping: He does all things well. Absolutely. Every. Thing.
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com.” Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)