Wednesday, March 26, 2003

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
(Acts 10.38 NRSV)

Cal Samra, in his book THE JOYFUL CHRIST, tells of a time when he needed healing and found it in a new vision of Jesus. Over ten years ago, Cal's life fell apart. His failing health had driven him to move far away from his family and friends, to the warm environment of Arizona. His health had also forced him to leave his job. His marriage had failed. He was worn out and sick, lonely and depressed. At the young age of fifty, Cal Samra had no more hope left. He decided to kill himself.

Cal bought a length of rope and drove around in the desert looking for a sturdy tree from which to hang himself. But most of the growing structures in the area were either palm trees, which are too tall to hang from, or cacti, which are pretty impossible to hang from. Next, Cal decided to throw himself into a river and drown. No luck there. It was summertime, and most of the rivers were dried out from the heat. Cal's luck had really given out if he couldn't even find a way to kill himself.

Finally, he decide he needed a less permanent solution to his problem. He drove to a Franciscan retreat. He entered the chapel there and began to pray out the sorrow in his heart. A warm, cheerful Franciscan, Father Gavin Griffith, welcomed Cal and asked him to stay for dinner. Father Griffith kept Cal laughing throughout dinner with his jokes and humorous remarks. On the wall of the kitchen was a picture Cal had never seen before, a portrayal of a vigorous, joyful Jesus, titled "The Laughing Christ."

Before Cal left the retreat center, Father Lambert gave him another picture of a smiling Jesus. This picture, painted by a Mrs. Joyce Martin, was like the first picture of the laughing Christ in certain ways. Instead of a pale, blond, sorrowful man with a glowing halo over his head, this Jesus was dark skinned, strong, and healthy looking. He had a broad smile, and He glowed with warmth and good cheer. His gaze was straightforward, honest, and twinkling with mirth. This was a warm, personable, real Jesus---the kind of man anyone would want to follow. As Cal contemplated these two images of Jesus, he realized that he had never known this side of Christ. This new way of seeing his Savior was the beginning of Cal Samra's emotional healing.

Some of you may know of Cal Samra today as the head of the Fellowship of Merry Christians.

Jesus came to bring healing to our lives and to connect us to the source of healing, God.

Dear God, as I seek Jesus, bring healing to my life. And help me to share Jesus so that others can be healed. Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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