Blackbirds

I’ve thought a lot lately about impact – about how what we do or fail do do can utterly change the courses of others’ lives. I think most of us, if we’re honest, would say that we want to know for certain at some point in our lives that we changed someone else for the better, for good. So we focus on the bonfire and on the flood, when really, it’s the small things that make the most difference.

I think of Lena with her cardboard sign that said, “Will sing for money” in the streets of Athens, GA, singing “Blackbird” to my group of Christian college kids. Her song echoes in my head even today. What if that small gift we gave saved her life? I think of the hands we hold, the children we comfort, the letters we write, the phone calls we make in the dead of night. I think of the warring prayers amidst the tornadoes of our loved ones’ hearts, the meal we serve to the homeless man, the smile we give to the cashier at Walmart.

And I think…We are all blackbirds. We might not carry a flashy billboard – it might just be a cardboard sign. We might not be pretty to gaze upon.  Our wings might be broken sometimes. We might get on other people’s nerves. We might be a little strange or too awkward or too outspoken or too quiet…but we are blackbirds, and we have a song to sing in the dead of night. We are only “waiting for this moment to arise.” And it’s in those moments – not the earth-shattering thunder in the sky or the overpowering tsunami of the soul – that we have the most impact. It’s in those moments that the balm of Christ works through us. Because when you and I and every other member of the Body of Christ decide to do our part, many wounds of the world can be healed. And that dark, black night? We can light it up like the Fourth of July with the hope of Christ.

 

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Straight Street

Ananias was just a dude with an ear for the voice of God. One day, he was minding his business, when BAM! God hit him with a vision. God told Ananias to go to Straight Street to find a man named Paul, who had just been blinded by Truth and had been given a dream from God that his sight would be restored when he met Ananias.

Now, here’s the thing: Paul (previously called Saul) was responsible for the imprisonment and even deaths of a large number of God’s people. He was one of the Big Bad Wolves of his time. For Ananias to go to Paul with Truth was a risk in man’s eyes because he could be killed.

13 “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! 14 And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.” (Acts 9:13-14, NLT)

But Ananias also recognized that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways.

15 But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16, NLT)

So Ananias stood up in obedience, put his sandals on, and went to Straight Street to meet the blind Big Bad Wolf. Check out what happened:

17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.” (Acts 9:17-18, NLT)

Paul became one of the most influential apostles, not only of his time, but of all Christian history. He wrote numerous books in the New Testament and preached far and wide throughout the lands of both Gentiles and Jews. He suffered imprisonment multiple times, but even then was used as a tool for the Gospel. And all because of the obedience of one man who decided to take a walk to Straight Street, even though he was shaking in his sandals.

God is omnipotent. He can do whatever He wants to, and whatever He does is good. But many times, He waits for us to act so that we can be the conduits of the Gospel. When we are willing and available, He can use us to be the hands that open blinded eyes to see.

So, where is your Straight Street? It might be an actual place, or it might be a community of people. Could it be the Muslims in your area? The “unclean people”? The nerd in the seat behind you in class? We’re all equal in the sight of God. What if God is waiting for you to act on His command to go into all the world and make disciples? What if someone is out there right now, waiting and praying for you to show up so that their blinded eyes can see?

Will you put on your sandals? Will you go?