On Leaping and Jumping...

Thursday, May 26, 2011
I was reading Acts chapter three recently.

I've read the book of Acts numerous times. As a child I enjoyed many of the stories it holds, but it wasn't until I was a freshman in college that I fell  in love with the book. I remember one evening in the student lounge reading the final chapter and desperately wanting to know what happened to the characters. I was desperate to know more: to have a sequel.

In Acts 3, a rather out of the ordinary thing happens: a crippled man is healed. Maybe today it's more ordinary: we have surgeries for that.* My wife sees patient after patient go from crippled to walking. It's common today, but not so much back then.

So, a man, crippled from birth, is carried to his favorite begging spot. And where is the favorite begging spot? The temple door. Or, the church door, if that rings more true for you. He sits outside the place of worship to ask the faithfully religious for cash.**

I'm not sure how many people gave to him that day. We have no record of it. All we know is that two men were going into the temple, and they were asked, as we assume many others were asked: "brother can you spare a dime?"

Now, apparently he asked the wrong guys, because they were broke. Or at least, by their own admission, they have no silver and gold. But they are far from broke. they have something far more valuable:

They know a guy.

And, this guy, thought not anywhere to be seen, heals the crippled man.

The unseen one is named, the men speak his name: Jesus Christ of Nazareth. And when even the most remarkable, unimaginable things are spoken in this name they happen. People who have never walked, begin to walk.

Peter, the one who spoke the name gets credit for the healing, for he doesn't deserve it or even accept it.

There are two things in this story that are really speaking to me right now.***

1. He began praising God. There is a song about this story that tells us he was leaping and jumping and praising God. Well, we don't see him leaping and jumping here, but perhaps he was in his heart. He was, none the less, praising God.

It's understandable that he has much to praise God for.

He can now praise God that he is no longer employed. He can wake up the next morning and begin looking for something else to do with his life.

In his rare case, this is a very good thing.

God has just changed everything about his life. But maybe that's not so rare.

I then begin asking, what in my life has God changed? What areas has he touched? Have there been transformations in me?

You better believe it.

I've never been crippled. I don't know what it's like to lack the physical strength to walk. But God has done, and continues to do, wonderful things in my life. I look at my family, I hug my daughter, I feel kicks coming from within my wife's uterus, I savor an afternoon sitting by the lake tossing stones into the water, and realize the everything in my life is as much a gift as that man beginning to walk.

And have I ever, do I ever, go around leaping and jumping and praising God?

Not nearly enough.

There are things every day that I need to praise God for: that I need to jump up and do a dance of joy for.

2. Peter, the one the people try and credit for the healing, asks the crowd a telling question: "Why does this surprise you?"

Am I surprised that God healed this man? Am I surprised by God?

Or more accurately of myself, do I ever ask God for over the top things: things so big only God can do them?


Do I think God can't do it? Do I think he won't? Why don't I ask God?

I bring God petty things all the time. Why no outrageous things?

Am I trying handle them on my own? Or am I seeking nothing outrageous?

The crowd recognized this guy. They recognized that he used to beg outside the temple. They must have been passing him by for years. I wonder if anyone ever stopped to ask God to heal him. I doubt it. Surly Peter wasn't the first one to pass by without cash. Why does he seem to be the first to ask God to heal him?

What huge, massive, outrageous things might God be doing around me that I'm missing out on?

Why am I surprised?  Why am I not asking God?

Is this true of any of you?

Why not go read Acts 3 and see what stands out for you?

*I'm sensing an apple app spoof with the tag line: "There's a surgery for that."

**As a side note, I wonder what would happen if on Sunday morning there was someone homeless, or crippled, or someone who can't find work for a variety of reasons, perched outside of our church asking for donations. What would I do? What would our church do? What would your church do?

***Besides my curiosity about whether or not anyone who gave to the crippled man wanted their money back. I wonder this very much, and maybe one day I'll get an answer. Perhaps this curiosity speaks more about me than anything else.