Lenten Devotional


Written Winter of 2013 for Lenten devotional

Philippians 2:5-11

Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead he lived a selfless, obedient life…

I am trying to think what it was like for Christ to come to earth and be human. We’re told it was humbling. It must have felt like he lost all his powers, like he was out of control of his situation and vulnerable. What kinds of situations have you been in where you felt like you were out of control and vulnerable? Sometimes when we go to another country and we don’t know the language and the government policies feel cruel and authoritarian, we may feel a bit susceptible. But there are people who feel vulnerable every day of their lives. I thought of my mother and her many years of vision loss…

When Sara Heebner Benner was a little girl, she fed chickens at their farm on Snyder Rd, Lansdale. Little did she know that this exposure to chickens could affect her vision later in life. It wasn’t till she had turned 33 and had given birth to her 3rd child that her left eye started bothering her and she saw squiggly lines where they should have been straight. She went to the doctor and he just shook his head after he saw the growth of abnormal blood vessels and fluid leaking behind her left eye…there was nothing he could do to prevent the almost certain blindness in that eye. So I never knew my mother with the use of 2 eyes. She was blind in her left eye when I was born, her 5th child. But I didn’t realize her limitations because she drove me to school and quizzed me on multiplication facts and Chemistry equations as if nothing were wrong.

While I was in college, her right eye began to also feel the effects of ocular histoplasmosis syndrome. But other than large, uneven handwriting in her weekly letters, I didn’t realize the impact this had on her. She didn’t complain but informed me that Daddy was taking her to a retina specialist to get laser treatments and that this time her vision in that eye could be saved. She could sing the praises of laser therapy but rarely acknowledged the defenselessness she must have felt during this time.

She is 94 years old today and still going strong without the use of a walker or a cane. She talks about how thankful she is for the bright light in her room which allows her to do her favorite activity: reading. She goes to a retina specialist for monthly injections for the macular degeneration that has crept into her only good eye. I flinch and look away when the doctor inserts the needle directly into her right eye, but she takes it all in stride. She doesn’t go out in public much, but on familiar terrain like my home, she walks with confidence. She had a set back by an onslaught of shingles over a year ago, but her loss of vision seems to be something she has accepted a long time ago. She takes my arm when we go places now and detests that she can’t see the faces of people we meet, but she’s undaunted by her lack of control and vulnerability. She has managed to compensate for her disabilities with extra love and kindness to all.

A lot like, I assume, Jesus did. He didn’t claim special privileges, but lived a selfless, obedient life. There is a lot I can learn from his example and other vulnerable people all around me.

God, give me a heart of compassion to understand how you lived…

Even if the Healing Doesn’t Come


Written Fall of 2012

During this joyful expectation of the advent season, it seems wrong to think of death, but many of us are grieving the loss of Emilee Laverty, Wendy and Jim Laverty’s daughter on Nov 1, 2012. She was only 19, but died tragically of dedifferentiated chordoma. I didn’t know her as well as I would have liked, but her sister, Lindsey has spent a lot of time in our home since she is one of our daughter’s friends.

We as a church body prayed tirelessly for Emilee’s healing, keeping abreast of the current obstacles she was facing through her parent’s diligent efforts on caringbridge.org. It affected our church and the whole community as we patiently waited for God’s miraculous hand of mercy. He did show himself in small healings along the way, but Emilee did not receive the ultimate healing we were all hoping for. It felt like a hard pill to swallow so close to the holiday celebrations of November and December. How could a merciful God allow this to happen?

For a while after she passed away, I found myself doubting my prayers for others. Was God really around? Did it really make a difference that we pray?

I found the words of this Kutless song encouraging:
Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

And in Galatians 2 (The Message):
Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.