SOMEHOW IN KIRA'S DEFORMED STATE, a few of the village leaders saw past her condition and instead saw the covenant gift within her young life. She was fed and given shelter and challenged to complete the mending of the ceremonial robe. The story quickly builds to a climax.
Christ too saw covenant, destiny, in every person. In fact, in some it was so strong when he met them that he renamed them: Simon, fisher of men, you are called Peter. James and John, sons of Zebedee, you shall be called Boanerges, sons of thunder. Zacchaeus wasn’t a despised tax collector to Jesus but a dinner host!
Christ didn’t see any of the sick and diseased and demon-possessed that were brought to him as worthless. He saw them whole before he even performed a miracle. He saw the inside where they were crippled too.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.'
So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, 'He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.'
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, 'Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.'
Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.' --Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus caught a glimpse of who he was in Christ’s eyes, and it changed him. No one had to tell him the right thing to do. He no longer saw himself from the outside in, but from the inside out, the way God intended. Zacchaeus came to understand who he was in an entirely different way as does Kira by the end of Gathering Blue.
ACCORDING TO G. K. CHESTERTON, tales and stories are an elementary wonder because they touch the nerve of the ancient instinct of astonishment. Their effect upon us is both simple and innate. More than that, Chesterton believed that stories are needed because they can awaken us, even startle us, when our lives have languished in familiarity:
Stories remind of us of reality. These tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. The tales make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water. It is the same for fairytales. In the fairy tale an incomprehensible happiness rests upon an incomprehensible condition. A box is opened, and evil flies out. A word is forgotten, and cities perish. A lamp is lit, and love flies away. A flower is plucked, and human lives are forfeited. An apple is eaten, and the hope of God is gone.
The reality that stories bring also conveys truth. One such story is in Lois Lowry’s Giver series, Gathering Blue. In this futuristic tale, on an earth that has forgotten much of its history and seems to have reverted to the Dark Ages, young Kira has just lost her mother, the only parent that she’s known.
No one would desire Kira. No one ever had, except her mother. Often Katrina had told Kira the story of her birth—the birth of a fatherless girl with a twisted leg—and how her mother had fought to keep her alive. . . . 'They came to take you, Kir. They brought me food and were going to take you away to the Field.'
Kira is clearly a cripple. That’s how she is seen on the outside by everyone except her mother who is now gone. But being crippled is only the outside condition. Her status quickly reminds me of more than one account where people in Christ’s time only saw condition too. They yelled at the blind beggars to get off the road, they fled at the sight of lepers, and laughed at Jesus when he said Jairus’ daughter was only asleep. They would have made fun of the Samaritan woman too. Those who lived in Nazareth said Jesus was just the carpenter’s son. They saw condition, just the surface.
So now, Kira has to make her way in life, and she is afraid that her village will cast her out. As the story continues, we find out that Kira has a gift, one that’s just beginning to grow. She calls it the knowledge and first describes it as a keepsake.
With her thumb, Kira felt a small square of decorated woven cloth. She had forgotten the strip of cloth in the recent, confusing days . . . When she was much younger, the knowledge had come quite unexpectedly to her, and she recalled the look of amazement on her mother’s face as she watched Kira choose and pattern the threads one afternoon with sudden sureness. ‘I didn’t teach you that!’ her mother said laughing with delight and astonishment. ‘I wouldn’t know how!’ Kira hadn’t known how either, not really. It had come about almost magically, as if the threads had spoken to her, or sung. After that first time, the knowledge had grown. . . . the threads began to sing to her.
It is this gift that saves her from exile or death as a cripple, and the village elders now provide her food and her own dwelling so that she can sew and embroider for them.
*Part II will continue the story next week.
In Genesis 39, the Egyptian captain Potiphar had it made. Prestige, position, property, a beautiful wife, and most importantly, a slave who did it all. Who wouldn’t appreciate a servant who could run your life better than you could?
Genesis 39:2-7 (ESV) The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master.
His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.
So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.
From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field.
So he left all that he had in Joseph's charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.
Some translations read successful in verses 2 and 3; others speak of wealth, but the Genesis account is clear. God is with Joseph, and so prosperity has broken out. Potiphar had to have trusted Joseph implicitly to relinquish his own control to a slave and so quickly too. That every part of Potiphar’s holdings flourished is undeniable. Potiphar, his wife, and all of his slaves had to have known that Joseph’s presence, and so God’s presence, brought this amazing bounty to them.
Even before his wife’s false accusations left Joseph in prison, Potiphar had missed something. Perhaps he felt entitled since he had purchased Joseph for half a pound of silver. Maybe he thought he had good luck because of his prayers to his gods. Perhaps he was simply in denial. But what if he had not just rested on success? What if he had been aware of why he landed in such fortune?
I wouldn’t want to live in such ignorance, this Potipharland. I want to see God’s goodness, see him at work, to know His nature, and to fill with gratitude. Here Potiphar made a simple choice, a one-time purchase, that affected his whole household and his entire country. If he had only known.