“Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?” - Jesus in Luke 17: 17
Curiosity? Judgment? Sorrow? It’s hard to know the sentiment behind what Jesus says after having made clean (from the Greek root for catharsis) ten lepers. Was Jesus judging them, angry with them, sad about them, curious about what happened to them? We can try to draw conclusions, better yet we can choose curiosity and a well known healing story can deepen in meaning for us. This week at our Wednesday morning bible study someone shared a different way to hear this story from Martin Bell’s book Way of the Wolf. Martin Bell shares a different point of view of what might have happened for the nine who did not return to give thanks.
This week I encourage you to consider choosing curiosity over judgment. One of my favorite movies that invites one to consider alternative points of view is Vantage Point. This political thriller shows the same event from differing vantage points. You can click here or on the photo above to see a trailer. As we continue to reflect upon renewal during the current preaching series part of what allows up to be open to God renewing us is being open to alternative perspectives.
Over the years I have learned that I can be renewed by gratitude. As I am open to giving God thanks in all times and places- not just for that which pleases me or fits with my plans, I am finding myself more balanced, receptive and curious. Giving God thanks when life is throwing curve balls, loved ones are struggling, I am feeling afraid… is a work in progress and has become a practice.
Over the past several weeks I have been getting some extra practice. Recently, during some quiet time this phrase came to me; “the greater the challenge the greater the gratitude”. To breathe that in as a prayer, “Ok God, this is challenging thank you. God, you know my heart- make it open to being connected to you and those who are around me.”
In this journey of following Jesus we get to offer up prayers that on the surface might seem upside down. Giving God thanks in the midst of challenges. Giving God thanks for difficult times and hard places. It is helping me to keep learning to deeply rely upon God. Practicing praying for God’s blessings upon those I perceive as mistreating me or making my life difficult invites me to take on a different vantage point. Looking at things from a different point of view is part of this gratitude practice.
How does God see this person? What might God guide me toward in this time of challenge? What does God know, that I don’t, about some one who is hard for me to accept? How might God be using me to be there for them as they are struggling? Getting curious instead of angry and defensive, hurt or fearful I can wonder, what is this other person’s point of view and vantage point?
This week will you ask God for help in seeking an alternative point of view? Will you let gratitude inspire you to be deeply connected to God in your challenges as well as your joy? Will you join me as together we get curious about how we can be instruments of God’s peace and love instead of responding to unkind behavior in a similar manner?
At bible study someone also shared this song. Perhaps the words of it and sound of it will invite you to look at what is around you from God’s point of view. Years ago when From a Distance by Bette Midler had been released and often played on the radio I didn’t like it. The lyrics of "God at a distance" didn't sound good to me so I disregarded it. Now, many years later I am listening to it for the parts that speak to this day and this time. I am grateful I have learned I can take the parts that work without needing to judge the ones that don’t.
Today I am so grateful for all those who have shared their experience, strength and hope that have fueled me on this journey to keep getting to listen anew and be renewed.