“I AM!” Jesus, being God, says. I AM. I exist. I am the origin and source of all being. I am the Creator and Sustainer of all reality. I am before and after time and in time and outside of time. I am the definition of love and beauty and truth and good.
When I AM speaks, things happen. When I AM first spoke, He spoke the world into existence, out of nothing. I AM said to the heavens and earth, “You are,” and they were. Taking the dirt of the earth and breathing out, He said to the latest and greatest of His creations, “You are.” “You are in my image,” and man was also created.
But Satan came and whispered to Eve, and she said, “AM I?” “Am I made in the image of God, or am I capable of being like God myself?”
“Am I to be subservient all the days of my life? Am I to be dependent on I AM, or can I BE without Him?”
God said, “I AM. You are.”
And Adam and Eve said, “AM I?”
From that moment we were all doomed to be not an “I am” made in the image of God but “am I?” made in the image of God but believing ourselves to be our own makers. This is the heart of existentialism, which is the heart of contemporary culture: Existence precedes essence. I exist, but then I am free to determine who and what I am. I am the determiner of right and wrong. I can even choose to consider myself a woman trapped in a man’s body.
Deep inside, however, everyone who rebels against God is not an “I am” but an “am I?” who is confused about his own existence. Giving up our worship of I AM, we cease to be “I am” and become “am I,” the enemy of God. As a result, I AM administers an eschatological enema to His enemies, and we are expelled from His presence.
This morning, we have stumbled across a man who was blind from birth. This man is a sign of the condition of man who was not created blind but now is born blind. Blindness is our natural condition before Jesus Christ, I AM, re-enters our life and heals us. This man, who is each of us, is sitting in blindness, and Jesus Christ, I AM, comes to him. And then the one who first fashioned man out of the earth, takes the earth and makes clay, and the great Potter re-fashions His vessel in His image once again.
Having been re-created by I AM, the blind man can see.
Having been re-created by I AM, we can not only see but also now live.
But those who are still blind can’t see I AM and even mistake the nature of those who were “am I?”s but are now “I ams.”
“Is not this he who sat and begged?” they ask. Some begin to see and say, “It is he.” But others remain blind and say, “He is like him. He is not him.”
But the blind man, now seeing and living says, “I am.” Being created and re-created by I AM, those who live can now say again, “I am!”
This blind man is a picture of our lives. It makes me think and feel and live. More specifically, it makes me wonder how long this blind man remembered Jesus: who He is and what He has done for him. You might think that the once blind but now seeing man would remember I AM all the days of his life. Who could ever forget such a miracle? Who could ever stop rejoicing that he was now able to see?!
And yet, being this blind man, how long have you remembered I AM, who has healed you? When was the last time that you experienced the joy and thanksgiving and praise that come with having been brought back to life?It was 20 years ago today (when I’m writing this) that my twin brother and I went out to play. 20 years ago, a friend of ours enticed us to go tubing on the Guadelupe River in Texas. Even though the river was especially high and no one was renting tubes and only a few reckless proprietors were renting rafts, we continued on our odyssey. Even though picnic tables were covered with water and we heard the voice of many waters telling us to turn back, we went.
It all started well enough. We survived a few mild whitewater swirls.
I’m 20 feet under water, I suddenly realized, and when I surfaced, gasping for air, I saw that I was being carried against my will towards tree limbs reaching out of the water. This is the way it ends, not with a bang but a splinter, impaled on a tree of death.
Finally, we made it to a spot of safety and waited for 3 hours to be rescued.
For several weeks, it was the story of my life.
The next year, I remembered the anniversary of my salvation.
For the next few years I rarely remembered the event itself, though I did remember the anniversary.
And now, 20 years later, it comes to mind every once in a while. It seems like a movie I’ve seen or like someone else’s memory grafted onto mine.
The fear and wonder, the joy and thankfulness have largely evaporated. And it was one of the most dramatic moments of my life. If I were this blind man who was given his sight, I would probably have followed the same pattern. Gradually, the great miracle in my life would become a mere memory. Life would go on as normal, and I might forget what God had done for me.
But we must not do this. We are the blind man, only we have not only been given back our sight but also our lives. We must not allow ourselves to ever forget who I AM is and what He has done for us. We must not allow our salvation to become a mere memory or to become routine or commonplace.
Having encountered I AM and His salvation in our lives, we must cling to Him for life. We must reach out and grab the Tree of Life in all of the rushing wild waters of our life.
Each and every day of our lives we must proclaim, “I am! Because I know and live in I AM, I am!” And we must do everything we can to remind each other and find ways each day to experience I AM and His salvation once more.
This year during Lent, you have one more prolonged opportunity to ponder how we are those who have been transformed from “am I?”s doomed to dust and death to “i am”s made alive again.
Prayer: Lord God Almighty, the great I AM, I ask that you forgive me for all of the times when I have not acknowledged you to be I AM. Forgive me for thinking that you are a human such as I am. Show me as much of Yourself as I am able to accept. Show Me yourself through the One WHO IS the Bread of Life; the Light of the World; the Gate for the Sheep; the Good Shepherd; the Resurrection and the Life; the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and the Vine.
Points for Meditation:
1. What are the most dramatic moments in your life? How did God come to you through them? What can you do to remember them and make them vivid again, so that you may remember God more faithfully?
2. Throughout the day today, make a conscious effort to remember who I AM is and who you are in Him. You might want to do this especially by seeing I AM through the lens of Lent.
Resolution: I resolve to find one way today to celebrate I AM and what He has done in my life.
© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson