July 11, 2021
Several years ago, I sought Joe’s advice on where I should hide something to keep the boys from finding it (it was probably jelly beans 😂). His reply was that the best method was to hide it in plain sight.
Joe had proven the effectiveness of this strategy on the day he proposed to me. Joe and his good friend Taylor had to call an auction sale that morning, and at the last minute, I ended up driving Joe’s truck to take Cameron over to my mama’s house. Now, I had suspicioned that there had been a possible ring purchase, but my efforts to look in every hiding place I could fathom had been fruitless thus far. I guess it was because the ring was not hidden at all…it was sitting in the center console of his truck. I probably rested my arm on it on the way back from my mama’s house that morning. I later learned that, as we pulled down the path toward the auction, Taylor (sitting in the back seat) spotted the ring box and did his best to get Joe’s attention in the rear view mirror to let him know it was out in plain sight. But Joe didn’t see Taylor, and I didn’t see the ring until later that afternoon. We were back in the woods behind the barn, building an imaginary house up on a hill, like we had done a thousand times before. I pointed and dreamed, saying we’d put this here and that there, when he interrupted me to ask if I really thought I could live with him for the rest of our lives. I turned around to find him, one knee on the dusty path, holding the prettiest ring I’d ever seen. Ya’ll know my answer…and if you know me well, you know that I screamed and cried and did a little happy dance because it’s just who I am.
And that’s the story of the best day of Joe’s sweet life. 😂
This week Joe’s lesson is about the ways that Jesus gives us eyes to plainly see the goodness of His work in our lives.
The Glory of God
When I think about the highlights of the ministry of Jesus, the story of how He healed the blind man is near the top of my list. You are probably familiar with the story—it starts out with Jesus and His disciples coming across a blind man while they are walking through the temple.
John 9: 1-3: “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
I thought for a long time that the “works” Jesus talked about meant healing the man’s sight. That is the main action in the story. I thought Jesus was performing the miracle to show that He was the Son of God. Well, now I see that the real point is something a little different.
Further in the chapter we find in verse 30 how the man responded when questioned by the Pharisees. “The man answered, ‘Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’
To this they replied, ‘You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!’ And they threw him out.”
If Jesus had wanted to be known for His power, he would have ridden into Jerusalem on a white horse with a sword and an army behind him. But that is not how He chose to come. He arrived quietly, touching the lives of the lost and forgotten. He didn’t just heal broken bodies. He healed hearts and souls, too. Like, in this story, He gave the blind man his physical sight, but He also gave him the ability to see the truth, while the Pharisees became blind to it. We should make sure that we, both as Christians and as the church, do not become blind to all that Jesus does for us each and every day.
So, as we go forward this week, let us not get so wrapped up in what happens in the world around us that we fail to see the work that God is doing here on earth every minute. Ask the Lord to give you eyes that see His goodness in every situation.
One of the perks of being an early bird living on a pond is that I am privy to a spectacular sunrise nearly every morning. I purposely seat myself at the kitchen table while I read my devotion so that I can see the sun just as it peeks over the tops of the trees and spills over onto the surface of the water. Ya’ll, sometimes it truly looks as if God is scattering golden nuggets and brilliant diamonds across the pond. I know it’s crazy, but I always feel like that is God’s special gift for me (my prize for getting up with the chickens!!). That perfect moment where the sky flips the switch from rainbow sherbet to glittering sunlight is brief, so if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss it, but it is worth taking a few moments each morning to just stop and soak up the sweetness of a fresh new day. The glory of God shows off for us first thing each morning.
I distinctly remember sitting at my kitchen table the morning after Joe went to Heaven. Honestly, I remember very little about those days (which is probably a blessing), but I can recall seeing the sunrise that day. Actually, what I remember is missing the sunrise. I caught the light reflecting off the pond from the corner of my eye. That morning, I needed a closer look, so I moved from the table to the glass door for a better view. But, in the moments it took me to get up and walk across the kitchen, the light on the pond disappeared, and all I could see was the bright, blinding sun over the trees. The irony of that magic moment slipping through my fingers was not lost on me that day.
On Tuesday of this week, I started my day like any other. I watched the sunrise from my kitchen table and went about my day. However, I could feel that uneasiness of impending grief creeping around the outer edges of my heart. While I am thankfully better able to control my reaction to bouts of grief, I also understand that sometimes the only way to find peace is to run away for just a bit. So, I threw some clothes in a bag and decided to disappear. It made no sense to head to the coast in the late afternoon when a tropical storm was in the forecast, but I have learned that my peace is almost always restored by the sight of blue water and smell of salt air, so I pointed Joe’s truck in that direction. Pointed is not exactly accurate. I honestly felt pulled toward the ocean. I had no idea what I was looking for, but I knew in my heart where I would find it.
When I arrived, I didn’t even take the time to throw my bag inside. I jumped straight out of the vehicle and walked down to the end of the dock. I perched on a wooden bench, closed my eyes, and soaked in the smell and the sounds. It was almost instant relief. Then, I opened my eyes to see the sun making its slow descent into the water. I caught it just in time to see those same glittering jewels dance across the water. Once again, the glory of God spread itself across the sky just for me.
But Joe’s lesson makes me realize that, like his own admission that maybe he’d originally missed the point, maybe I have as well. Maybe the grand display of majesty at dusk and dawn each day isn’t about those fleeting moments where the light dances across the water. Beautiful as they are, they are indeed fleeting. But when they disappear, the sun remains. Steadfast, over and over again, the sun remains. Could that have been the message I missed on the morning after Joe passed away? That no matter what this life gives us or what this life takes away from us, we are never removed from the light of the Son?
He arrived quietly, touching the lives of the lost and forgotten. Jesus isn’t about the blaze of glory. I think that part is just an after effect of His presence. Jesus is about loving and serving and healing.
He didn’t just heal broken bodies. In the moments before Joe’s sweet soul left his body, I held his head in my lap and prayed–I begged–-the Lord to heal him. Although my eyes were blind to it then, now I can see that Jesus did heal Joe–right there in my arms–his broken body was made whole again as he left my arms for the arms of Jesus. Oh, that is a precious, precious thought!
He healed hearts and souls, too. The reality is, healing Joe’s heart meant mine had to break. But Jesus isn’t in the business of only healing hearts passing through the gates of Heaven. So, He shows up every single day…as constant as the sun…and continues the process of putting my heart back together again.
We should make sure that we do not become blind to all that Jesus does for us each and every day. Sometimes Jesus brings me healing through His word. Sometimes it comes in the form of people placed in my path who help me navigate through the darkness. Sometimes healing comes through the words you are reading now. And sometimes, healing comes from the sun. Always, though, healing comes from the Son.
So, as we go forward this week, let us not get so wrapped up in what happens in the world around us that we fail to see the work that God is doing here on earth every minute. Lamentations 3: 22-23 says, ” Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” I see this verse in living color every morning as the sun peeps at me from above the treeline.
And then, the day happens. Life happens. There are some mighty sweet moments. There are some moments that hurt. But there is no moment of the day where you are without the Son.
And the sunset? The Lord used it to open my eyes in two ways this week. For just a moment, as the light stretched out far across the water, I felt as if God gave me just a tiny sneak peak of the golden streets of Heaven. Crazy as that sounds, it brought peace to my heart to think of Joe just on the other side, and made me consider that maybe Heaven isn’t so far away after all. Then, as the sun began to sink, the colors in the sky transformed before my very eyes into a gorgeous palette of orange and pink and purple. As beautiful as the sun had been on top of the water, it was just as breathtaking as it nestled down beneath it. That’s when I think I really understood the message that no matter what happens during the course of a day, a week, a year, or a life, the glory of the Son gives us hope for a beautifully painted ending.
So, my sweet friend, my prayer for you today is that you will have eyes that can see the good. There is so much good. God’s goodness and glory are all around you, from the sunrise to the sunset and everywhere in between. It isn’t hiding from you in some dark, faraway corner, my friend. I can tell you from experience that the best things, the greatest blessings of this life, are all around you–hiding in plain sight.
-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe