As we gathered at 8 AM to begin work this past Saturday on the Spiritual Retreat, we began with prayer. We asked God to protect us and to give us strength, guidance, and wisdom as we worked. We also asked that this building be used to serve Him in whatever capacity so that in our work we would be serving God.
The overcast skies were constantly looming ever closer. The weatherman had predicted 100% chance of rain, so when I found myself barely able to make out the markings on the saw before the dawn’s first light, I was even more thankful that it had not yet begun to rain. Each night this past week, after a full day at school, I would drive home, change clothes, and dash out to the work site to continue building as long as the last vestiges of light would allow. Even so, the necessary pieces of framing were still not fully in place by the time the work crew showed up for the first group effort. Once we were all assembled, there was Jim, a neighbor and Airline Pilot; Leroy, my neighbor, mentor, and retired Scout Executive; John “Fletch” Church, another friend and Paralegal, and lastly my son, Jonathan; all brothers and son in Christ. Our intended focus that day was to try to get the plywood sheathing on the roof. However, it was not to be.
In all things, my focus is to always give thanks. Even when things don’t go as planned, there is a certain level of gratitude which must be appreciated. Looking back, the things we accomplished Saturday were things that would have been nearly impossible for one person to do alone; at least not easily and in a timely manner. This group of men had been the answer to the unforeseen problems that would arise, but God knew.
In all we do, there is always a purpose.
And in the work, there was learning.
One of the many things that had yet to be done was to put up the rafter collar ties. Since we had the manpower, three of us stood on the second-floor working; Leroy on the ladder and Fletch and I holding up the two ends of the collar while I nailed them. Leroy was carefully balancing himself on the ladder while holding a four-foot level as we carefully put each rough cut 2×6 in place. At one point, the ladder shifted, and he became unsteady. Shifting his footing, the level slipped out of his hand and came crashing down onto the left side of my head. Most of the impact was to my ear. My initial reaction was, “Well, now that felt good.”
The bells were still ringing in my head when Leroy asked, “Did that hurt?”
“Just a little,” was my reply.
We both laughed. In truth, it stung pretty good, “But hey,” I thought to myself, “At least I’m still conscious.”
However, as I looked up at Leroy, the look on his face was that of concern. Leroy had been like a father figure to me since we had met. The first day we walked into his home, which is now ours, there had been a feeling; something special that I could recognize but didn’t know what it was. The realtor lady, who would later become a sister in Christ to us, Melonie Reid-Murphy, was showing us Leroy and his wife Annette’s home for the first time. Like in the movie, “War Room,” there was something baked into that home. Later, we would learn that when they were building the house, Leroy and Annette went around and wrote scriptures on the 2×4’s. When we would meet for our most unusual, pre-purchase interview, we instantly felt like we had known each other for years. It was then Leroy became my mentor in many avenues of life, but most importantly, was the one of faith.
So, as Leroy looked down at me from the top of the ladder with that look, I knew there was something more.
“Your cut,” he said, somberly, “Your ear is bleeding,” he continued.
Instantly, I could sense his feeling of responsibility wash over me. Trying to abate any of his self-imposed guilt, I replied, “Ok, it’s just another one to go with all the others,” and laughed it off.
“Maybe we could get Jesus to touch it and heal it,” Fletch chimed in about that time.
Instantly, my mind raced to the scriptures. Amongst the ringing still dissipating, like echoes off the distant mountainside, there was no recollection of such an act that I could recall. “Had Jesus healed the servant,” I asked out loud. Both Leroy and John shook their heads yes. The scene in the Garden of Gethsemane was playing out in my head, but for some reason, the healing had slipped through my comprehension all these years. “Later I will have to look that up,” I thought to myself as we carried on.
Since everyone had other commitments, as is normal for a Saturday, we finished around noon and parted our ways, myself being thankful not only for the help but the fellowship as well.
However, as if it were confirmation of God’s presence that morning, Fletch messaged me the scripture later in the afternoon to which my thoughts had been silently seeking that morning, Luke 22:50-51, “And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.”
As my eyes read, and then reread the passage, the scene began to play out before me. Jesus, standing in the long shadows of the early morning, long before dawn watched as the light of their torches approached. Judas would lead the mob as they approached. The disciples would suddenly jump awake, a bitter irony from their unnatural drowsiness of the night which had forsaken Christ. Yet, now, they were ready to take up arms to protect him, lest they should lose him forever. In his haste, one of them, as the gospel of Luke recalls, would draw his sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant. We know from other accounts that it was likely Peter who wielded the sword.
At this point, the servant’s assumptions of all that had been said were confirmed. The searing pain of any injury to the ear seems to be magnified, as I had recently known. Although mine was a small scratch, this was an entire ear sliced from his scalp. One can only imagine the thoughts that thundered through the victim’s head as blood began to flow down his face. In that moment, Jesus responded in true Christ fashion, “Suffer ye thus far,” and reached out and touched where the ear had been.
In an instant, the pain stopped. All those watching stood stunned. The torchlight danced around them as everyone was surely silent at that moment.
The servant, who now stood looking down at his former ear, still lying covered in blood upon the ground, felt a tremor of the Holy Spirit ripple through his body. With his right hand, he reached up and felt another ear in the former’s place. All the accusations had in one moment been confirmed by the act of Peter, but before the soldiers could retaliate, Jesus had altered the course of yet another soul. The servant had heard of the rumors of healings and miracles that the man they had come to arrest had performed, but he had never witnessed one in person. Now, he was one would had been healed.
As the servant stood stunned and confused, the scene played on before him. The conflict of what was had now been forever changed, but did it reach his heart?
Paul tells us in the book of Acts, the account to the chief of the Jews in Rome how those who have their minds set against believing we forever be trapped in that prison of anguish, “ Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”
As the soldiers and priests escorted Jesus away in restraints, the servant continued to stand immobile, frozen in place as a witness to a crime. The remaining disciples would sneak off into the remaining shadows of the morning to hide. His heart sank at the realization as the error of his ways became known. As he awakened to the reality before him, tears began to fill his eyes.
I asked our preacher this morning what he thought of the servant’s reaction might have been. He agreed that as the rest of the mob would have been set upon arresting Jesus, and like them, the servant’s mind couldn’t have been changed. The thought rumbled through my head like the thunder through the valley as we sat in the sanctuary during this morning’s service.
As the last words of the sermon ended, God whispered into my ear the answer I had been seeking.
With the ears of which he had been born, the servant of the High Priest would have never known or heard the truth. As Paul said, “Their ears were dull of hearing,” meaning, they had their minds set on only believing one story and nothing else. To the Jews, Jesus was just another troublemaker, another Zealot to deal with. When Peter cut off the servant’s ear, he was stripped of his former self. Jesus Christ simply touched him and made him whole, and when he did, the servant of the High Priest was able to receive the truth, and in so, found Christ.
Yes, with a new ear, he could hear, and in the end, found salvation in Christ.
The ringing had finally stopped in my ear and in my heart, I was thankful for a minor slip of a level the day before.
God had answered prayers this past Saturday in many more ways than one. There was no serious injury and, in the end,, we served Him in all that we did.
They say iron sharpens iron, and true fellowship is a gift in and of itself.
Most importantly, let us not forget, “lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”
Let Jesus touch you today, and in the end, you will be healed.
Thanks be to God.