Less Than What?

(Part Nine in the Disciples Series. Click the Disciples link on the sidebar to begin at the introduction called Different Strokes.)

James shuffled into the eating area and checked the cushions once more. Should be suitable. Matthew had sent a runner ahead to give him warning. Just a little. Not enough time to prepare adequately.

He rubbed sweaty palms down his robe and glanced at the open doorway again. Empty.

It still didn't make sense. Why would a famous rabbi want to have dinner with them, the sons of Alpheus? His brother, a tax collector; and him, a useless cripple living on the charity of his wealthy brother. Yeah, he cooked for him, but that was no job for a man. A man should be a merchant. A farmer. A fisherman. Even a tax collector. But Matthew had beat him to it. One tax collector in the family was enough.

As it was, both sons of Alpheus had unwelcome titles: Matthew the tax collector and James the Less.

He dragged his stiff leg behind him as he went to the doorway to peer down the dusty street. A small mob moved as a unit toward the frame house on the corner.

James ducked inside and pressed his back against the wall. He could feel his heart hammering against the planks. What could he say to a rabbi? He was used to the Pharisees and various other pompous leaders who liked to hang out with Matthew and criticize everyone in town. His weak, emaciated body had become invisible to them years ago. And he had learned to tune out their sarcasm and arrogance. Why shouldn't they be arrogant? They had it all; Yahweh's right-hand men.

A shadow fell across the front stoop. Matthew breezed through the doorway without noticing his brother plastered against the wall. Behind him, a stranger in white stepped over the threshold and stopped. He gave a three-quarter turn and looked directly at James, as though he had known where to find him.

His smile lit up the room. "James, good to see you. Join us. I am looking for those who long to be fishers of men." He smiled again and held out his hand. A strong, muscular hand bronzed by years in the sun.

James held out his thin sweaty one and felt it gripped by a power that radiated through his being. His heart calmed and he found himself gazing back at this Rabbi with a confidence that was not his.

With a cautious smile, he pushed away from the wall and led the group across the room to the basin of water reserved for guests to wash their feet. As he turned to offer a seat to the Rabbi, he realized it was the first time in years he had not limped.

He gaped at his stiff leg. It looked the same. Still throbbed a bit. Still thin and boney.

Had he imagined it? Had he stopped limping?

Or had he simply stopped caring?

We all have handicaps.
For some, the greatest handicap is simply the refusal to admit it.

For others, the handicap becomes an excuse.
"I can't" becomes the first response to every challenge.

Are you laboring beneath a label you don't want, seeing yourself as insignificant and unable to become what you see others becoming?

Jesus doesn't see you that way. He's is looking for those who want to become fishers of men. Your resume makes no difference to him.

When you invest yourself in the things that have eternal significance, your handicaps may still be there. But you stop caring. They no longer define you.

The moment he met Jesus, James the Less became James the Apostle.

Have you met Jesus? He wants to rename you.

The One who designed you, is the only One who can define you.

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