Spiritual Director · October 24, 2016

Affirm #12

I have a couple of all-time favorite movies I like to watch. Many of them star Robin Williams. “Patch Adams” comes to mind, (I love that movie) as well as “Dead Poet’s Society” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.” On the top of that list is “Awakenings” with Robert DeNiro. The movie is based on a real life experience.

Robin Williams plays the part of a medical doctor, Dr. Oliver Sacks and Robert DeNiro plays the part of Leonard Lowe, a man suffering from what was called “sleeping sickness” which left people in a catatonic state. A experimental drug was tested on these patients and Leonard was the first patient to be “awakened.”

After thirty years of existing in a sleep-like state, Leonard suddenly regains his ability to walk and talk. In one scene in the movie, he’s so excited by his new life that he calls the doctor in the middle of the night and says he has to talk to him. The doctor hurries over and Leonard says: “We’ve got to tell everybody, we’ve got to remind them, we’ve got to remind them how good it is.”

“How good what is, Leonard?” the doctor asks.

Leonard picks up a newspaper: “Read the newspaper. See what they say, all bad, it’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is about, they’ve forgotten what it is to be alive, they need to be reminded, they need to be reminded about what they have and what they can lose. And what I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!”

Having just been awakened from his “sleeping sickness”, Leonard discovers anew the joy and the wonder of life. He also discovers that most people, even though they’re walking and talking and seemingly living their lives, are in fact just as asleep as he was.

I thought of that as I read Isaiah 35 today. God says…
“Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, ‘Courage! Take heart! GOD is here, right here, on His way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on His way! He’ll save you!’ Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song.” Isaiah 35:3-5 MSG

Could it be possible that you’ve been “sleep walking” lately? Just going through the motions, unaware of the greatest truth there is: God is here, right here and has made all things new through His Son, Jesus Christ and that new life is freely yours.

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Don’t forgot what it’s like to be made alive in Christ. That new life is yours, don’t sleep through it!

Awaken me by the power of Your Spirit. I want to experience new life today. In Jesus name I ask this, Amen.

Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen

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Mark was Spiritual Director for VdC from 2016 to 2019. He's written many of the devotions, especially the Devote and Affirm series, found on this website.