Inspiration comes and goes and it takes a certain discipline to strike when the iron is hot. I lack a certain verve and thus I am stymied by my own defeatist mentality, a perpetual victim of my own self-fulling prophecy of failed production. But when inspiration and drive form to meet a creative estuary, I am faced with another dilemma: do I write this for my church’s weekly article or do I write this for my personal blog? Now that I’ve mentioned it, I might as well shamelessly plug my anthology of random musings called “The Olive Leaf”. I feel like I haven’t watered this plant of late and so here I am trying to revive this withering succulent.
I came across a familiar story in Luke 17 where Jesus heals ten lepers but only one returns to thank Jesus for the gracious healing.
 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.  And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance  and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.  Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;  and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.  Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (ESV)
This piece is not meant to be a convenient one-to-one application during our times during COVID-19. Though we can insert a joke about how the lepers were practicing sound social distancing protocol before it was cool (v.12; “ who stood at a distance”), there is a deeper truth that I want to uncover, at the very least, for myself.
The stark contrast between the desperate pleas and the deafening silence of the nine lepers that did not return is telling. It reveals that the ultimate goal of the heaping of praise to Jesus, as they called him “Master”, was to be healed. Whether it was because they wanted to reintegrate themselves within the community or just tired of the disease itself, it is painfully evident that Jesus (and the rightful worship that is due) was not the primary objective. It was a pretense. I can imagine that once they were deemed to be clean again, their first response was to tell their friends and family. They probably organized gatherings to celebrate the occasion. They weren’t able to physically break bread and do life with one another. One’s first reaction reveals the truest desires of the heart. Does any of this sound familiar?
Then you contrast the Samaritan, who by reputation should not have even been a part of the conversation, become the recipient of the gold star. His first response is worship.
 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;  and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
Mind you, this is before he anything official was declared. This was prior to any ceremonious declaration of the proclamation of his cleanliness. Before he could reap the benefits of the newfound identity and health, he rightfully worships Jesus.
This might be premature, but I could imagine many people’s initial response to the lifting of shelter in place is to return things to normal. Many people look forward to the day when they can congregate together. They look forward to dining out and going bowling. They long for playdates and for some, just dates. And many of us will not even think to look back and thank God for His providence. Many will only be so fixated on the fixed problem only to neglect the very purpose of existence: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
So consider this a reminder: when some semblance of normalcy is returned, do not forget the hands that have healed.