April 28, 2023

From darkness to light

Readers celebrate God’s creative and healing powers in living out their faith

Bill Greenwald of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis has explored the depths of caves for about 50 years, finding God’s light in all levels of the world. (Submitted photo)

Bill Greenwald of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis has explored the depths of caves for about 50 years, finding God’s light in all levels of the world. (Submitted photo)

(Editor’s note: The Criterion has invited our readers to share a favorite Bible verse or a favorite quote that helps remind them of God’s presence in their lives and/or helps center them in their relationships with other people. Here is part four of their responses. See part three | See part five)

By John Shaughnessy

Bill Greenwald often finds the presence of God in nature, which is why he has always been drawn to the wisdom expressed in Job 12:7-10.

It’s a passage that notes, “But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the Earth and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.”

As he considers that passage, Greenwald says, “I have found the book of Job to be very unique, in that God tested Job’s faith time after time, yet Job never gave up. To me, it also reflects on what Mother Nature teaches us about life.”

In a hike through the woods, the member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis finds an “escape from the noise and the clutter of living in a city,” immersing himself in the peace and the beauty of God’s creation.

Greenwald has also found that peace and beauty in the darkest places of the world—literally—as he has explored the depths of caves for about 50 years.

“Overcoming your fear of the dark, tight places and heights can be very challenging,” he says, noting that Indiana has five commercial caves and about 2,700 “wild” caves. “Like Job, it takes a lot of faith in yourself and your gear to explore some of the Earth’s longer and deeper caves.

“Now that I am in my late 70’s and slowing down a bit, I like to share my life experiences with my children and grandchildren and especially with the younger people I meet.”

One of the experiences he shares is about a caving friend who saw God’s light at all levels of the world and in all parts of our lives.

“Tim loved to get out his telescope and explore and talk about all the stars in the night sky,” Greenwald says. “Tim would say that it is the same in the caves.

“There are stars and formations everywhere hidden in the dark. All we have to do is go in there and light them up.”

God’s touch of love and hope

Dave Stuhldreher knew that his friend was going through one of the toughest, most heartbreaking times in life—a divorce.

Besides listening to his friend and being there for him, the member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis also wanted his friend to know that God was there for him. So he shared a Bible verse—Jeremiah 29:11—that has always brought him comfort:

“For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

“I told my friend that it gives me great hope, even when I’m going through a tough time. That God does have a plan for me, and given his great love for me, I have no doubt it will be a much better plan than I could ever imagine.

“This verse really helped my friend.”

Walking in the way of Christ

In her desire to have a deeper relationship with Jesus, Jennifer Haught feels a close connection to one of the people Christ healed.

That healing is from the story shared in John 5:2-9.

It’s the story of the crippled man who had been lying for years by a pool of water that was supposed to heal people. On one of the countless days when the man hoped someone would put him in the pool at the supposedly right time of healing, Jesus approached him with the offer of a life-changing gift, asking, “Do you want to be well?” (John 5:6) After the man shared his struggles, Jesus told him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk” (Jn 5:8).

As John’s Gospel notes, “Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked” (Jn 5:9).

That’s the way Haught felt when Jesus touched her life with his healing power.

“I was 38 when I was baptized, so I identify with the man lying by the pool, ill for so many years and then finally healed by Jesus,” says Haught, a member of Mary Queen of Peace Parish in Danville. “But the forgiveness and new life I received in baptism was only the beginning.

“The passage also always reminds me that the healing comes with a command to rise and walk. Every day, regardless of any successes and failures of the day before, I have to get up again and strive to walk in the way of Christ.” †

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