Day 41: New Life This Side of Heaven

Read: John 9:1-41

Last spring was one of the darkest times in my life. Depression has always been a nagging ache in my side since childhood, but this was something new. I had been a good Christian, I thought. I’d served in ministries. I’d persevered through hard relationships. I’d cut-off ungodly relationships. But still, I was angry, lonely, and dead inside.

I took my spring break to volunteer at my old missionary agency, hoping to find some peace and clarity. During my time there I prayed more sincerely than I had in years, pouring out my pain to God. I knew Jesus had saved me. I knew theologically that meant the Holy Spirit was making me new. Why then didn’t I feel like a new creation? Why was I still a slave to my vices, lusts, and self-pity? Why wasn’t God fixing me? It was during this desperate time that God told me what I already knew, but didn’t want to admit: “You’re only obeying Me to get your way because you don’t really believe My way is better.” He hit the nail square on the head. 

Jesus uses a blindman in John 9 as an illustration for the kind of life He has been referring to throughout John 8. Jesus  makes some mud and rubs it in the blindman’s eyes, then tells him to wash his face in a particular location. His point was not just to heal him but to illustrate a process.

Fixing sin is not a passive process—God doesn’t just snap His fingers and heal us. As Jesus illustrates, it’s something that God first initiates and then that we must act on. Would the blind man have been healed if He didn’t wash his face? It’s easy to live life here. I certainly was. I may have let Jesus put mud on my face, but that just made me both blind and muddy, not healed. I may have participated in ‘Christian activities,’ but it was never real obedience. My motivation wasn’t for Jesus. I was acting to grow my own kingdom and sphere of influence as a “good Christian.” I didn’t think that doing God’s will for God’s sake would actually result in my benefit this side of heaven.

This paradigm shift only happened when I stopped clinging so tightly to my own wants and began seeking to really serve God. I began by praying that I’d want to obey, which I have found to always be the best place to start. I soon found to my surprise that I genuinely had a change in my desires. This is not the case for everyone, but on top of that, an untapped well of life and energy burned up my depression like tissue paper. For weeks after that spring break, I couldn’t keep my joy contained. I called my friends and family, telling them about how real, good, and life-giving God really is. This was the blindman’s reaction after being healed too. He couldn’t keep it in. The reality of his experience and the simplicity of his words evaporated the pharisee’s accusations of Jesus, as he says, “one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 

If you’re not aware of the living and active Kingdom of God in your life, then there may be some blindness that needs to be dealt with. It’s better to admit this than to carry on as blind. I invite you to pray for a desire to do God’s will for His sake.

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