While playing the board game Risk a few months before he made history, Neil Armstrong passed a note to his younger brother, Dean. On it he had scribbled the line he would eventually declare for the world: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
For months, Armstrong carefully considered what he would say and what he would do with humanity’s very first steps on the moon. We can’t measure his level of anticipation for such a momentous event, but he clearly spent a lot of time imagining how it would go.
I wonder if the lame man in this story could relate. For an entire lifetime, he has been confined by the need for stretchers and by other people’s schedules. How many times has he envisioned his first steps?
After Peter looks him in the eyes, he grabs the man’s hand and, in the name of the risen Jesus of Nazareth, raises him to his feet. The story says the man begins walking and leaping. I don’t know what video footage of those first steps would look like, but I like to imagine it resembling those first moon bounces—awkward, fun, and uninhibited.
We live in a time of disunity and division. It’s hard to rejoice when so much injustice exists in our world. Yet this man’s response is a lesson for each of us. His unrestrained joy bears witness to the hope of resurrection. He offers his joy, maybe even more than the miracle of his walking, to those around him and those picturing his story, a glimpse of God’s kingdom breaking in on earth.
Humankind needs more of that, more of us taking small steps of faith and giant leaps of joy.
When’s the last time you leapt for joy in body or in spirit? What’s holding you back?
God of life, remind us how to rejoice. Amen.