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Doing what you can do

by davesandel on December 3rd, 2012

Doing what you can do

Monday, December 3, 2012

First Week of Advent

Matthew 8:8-13

The Roman centurion said to Jesus, “Lord, only say the word and my servant will be healed.”  Jesus was amazed.  “In no one in Israel have I found such faith … You may go.  As you have believed, let it be done for you.”  At that very hour his servant was healed.

The centurion understood hierarchy.  He answered to someone, and someone answered to him.  He did not “concern himself with great matters or things too wonderful” (Psalm 131).  He knew his place.  The centurion knew he was not the maker of heaven and earth, nor could he re-arrange things to make his servant well.

How did he understand that Jesus could?  He had heard stories about Jesus, of course.  He hoped they would be true.  But as Job said, “My ears had heard of you, Lord, but now my eyes have seen you.”  When he saw Jesus, the centurion knew something more than he’d known before.

Jesus’ bearing was not regal, but seeing him walk and touch people and talk with them, the centurion knew that Jesus knew God.  Jesus did not second-guess himself, not ever.  Perhaps he spent hours in the dark of night talking with God, maybe questioning God or arguing with God.  But when the sun rose and the people looked to Jesus, he and God had gotten it together.  Their minds were one.  As Jesus himself said, “When you see me, you see the Father” (John 14).  “I only do what the Father tells me to do” (John 5, 8).

I do spend some time in the dark of night talking with God.  Not much, though.  I second-guess myself fairly often.  I do not regularly see people healed by my touch before my eyes.  (Not to say it doesn’t happen sometimes or that it couldn’t happen more.)  And like the centurion, I want to find my place in the hierarchy and flourish there, rather than striving for what belongs only to God, and not to me.

There are three wonderfully simple statements that paraphrase the beginning of the famous Twelve Steps * :

  1. I can’t do it.
  2. God can.
  3. I think I’ll let him.

The centurion ran those steps through his mind and settled into faith.  That’s what I want to do, too.

Learning the difference between aiming too low and aiming too high seems to be a lifelong process, Lord.  Remind me and show me how to set my eyes only on you, and let you give me direction for what to do and what to say.  You are the source of all our healing.  Thank you and praise you, Lord.

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