Dancing Cripples?

Jul 17th 2008

So why Dancing Cripples as a blog title? It comes from a sermon title. I like to think that every sermon I preach is memorable, but most are only meant for the moment. You may or may not remember this one, but a year or so ago, while preaching through the first nine chapters of Acts, I ran across this story in Acts 3. It was the story of a crippled man who sat outside one of the gates in Jerusalem. He had been crippled for forty years…and from an early age till the day Peter and John walked past him on their way to a prayer meeting…he had been brought to this gate to beg for help. But this day would be different, Luke writes,

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and anklebones were healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! They all rushed out to Solomon’s Colonnade, where he was holding tightly to Peter and John. Everyone stood there in awe of the wonderful thing that had happened. Acts 3:7-11

I love this picture. A crippled man is seen, gets healed, starts to dance, and everyone around stands in awe. Now I’m not much of a dancer, but this story made me start thinking about my crippled places. I’ve got a few, but when God’s grace combines with my crippled places, there is dancing and awe.

This story grabs me on so many different levels.

There is the persistent hope of a crippled man. For 40 years they’ve carried him to the gate…and for 40 years he has had at least enough hope to hold out his hand…to cry out “Alms, Alms for the poor.” 14,480 days without having his number one prayer answered. “God heal me.” But this day would be different. Why this day, if God was going to heal him anyway, why not day 4764 or even better day 1? I don’t know. I don’t. All I know is that one day was different & it is always too early too quit hoping. It is always to early too quit asking God. So what crippled prayers do you need to keep holding out in your hand for God to answer?

Then there is the picture of transformation, few things make my heart sing like life transformation. Can you picture that moment? ‘Rise up’ a voice calls, “Rise up?” He thinks, I never even learned to walk. I’ve never experienced balance. Fear growing. Heart pounding, until the decision is taking out of his hands, hand to hand, the voice pulls him up. As twisted limbs straighten and muscle develops… he steps, he walks, he leaps, he dances. And all of a sudden 40 years gives way to freedom, 40 years gives way to hope. 40 years gives way to God. And I can just picture him like a little kid for the first time at Disney World, pulling on the hands of both his parents… come on you guys, let’s go in.

And he walked…no he danced through
the gate into the temple…praising God.

Few things thrill me like a dancing cripple.

So here’s my last question…don’t you want to dance? I don’t know where you have crippled places in your life; but I do know that so often we focus on the crippled externals… something physical, or circumstancial. And who wouldn’t dance if your cancer was healed… But there is an even greater miracle… It is healing on the inside… it is wholeness of heart. And that day after God healed that man, a crowd gathered… and Peter explained the gospel. In a very simple way, he explained who Jesus is and who we are…and what we need to do…to dance.

So that’s why Dancing Cripples? It reminds me that in spite of my crippled places, God’s grace calls me to do good that I never thought I could do…the kind of good that will cause people around to take their eyes of my crippled places and look to God.

So let’s dance.