“Oliver was always a ‘hopeless’ case, yet he was such a precious gift for our family. ‘God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.’ (1 Cor 1:27) This child had no apparent usefulness or meaning, and the ‘world’ would reject him as an unproductive burden.” (POTP p.87)
It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about Oliver so here’s a brief reminder from The Power of the Powerless:
“Well, I grew up in a house where my brother was on his back in bed for thirty-two years, in the same corner of his room, under the same window, beside the same yellow walls. He was blind, mute. His legs were twisted. He didn’t have the strength to lift his head or the intelligence to learn anything.” (POTP, page 8)
Oliver De Vinck was one of the weak things of the world that God used to confound both the mighty and the wise. In the original Greek, the word translated ‘confound’ means, to dishonor, to disgrace, or to put to shame. To shame the wise. To shame the mighty. What does that mean?
In The Fellowship of the Ring, the Council of Elrond met to discuss how they would destroy the One Ring. The ring is evil and oppressive, potent and possessive. Representatives from all over Middle Earth – all great warriors – alternate boasting of why they should be the ones to wield the ring. The eponymous Elrond insists that the ring be destroyed and a scrum breaks out among the warriors. With his voice barely audible, Frodo says, “I’ll take it.” Gandalf hangs his head and the warriors stop bickering, looking to meek Hobbit. The foolish shamed the wise and mighty.
Frodo carried a burden the others could hardly imagine. He was the smallest, weakest, least seasoned person at the Council, yet he carried the ring. David’s rise to the throne parallels Frodo’s appointment as Ring Bearer. Ruddy faced David was the runt of his family – his brothers were fighters while he was a lowly shepherd. But when Samuel comes to anoint the king, God leads him to David and we read these profound words, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
Inherent in the passage from POTP and this one from 1 Samuel is the idea that God and man have different qualifiers when it comes to strength and value.
We laud those who dunk from the Charity Stripe, master the stock market, act from the A-List, and are the first in a Fortune 500. While none of those diminish God’s view of an individual, neither to they define it. We look at the outward appearance…
Appearance doesn’t equal reality. We know this, don’t we? That credit serves as a facade, hiding truth behind a big house and a fancy car. That CEO’s can be a snitch away from prison. That a physical weakling can be the strongest person in the room. That a skinny person can be profoundly unhealthy.
We value the costume. God values the character within.
We look into an ultrasound screen and decide a human isn’t valuable because of his frail appearance. So we have and elective reduction, and inject poison into the heart God’s watching.
We look into a television screen and support an immoral politician, because of his strong appearance. So we vote, ignoring the heart God’s watching.
It doesn’t make sense to us. Current wisdom tells us a man can lead a country even though he can’t lead himself. But God uses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. Oliver shames the wise. He defies the odds, breaks the mold, transcends Normal.
I’m fooled by facades, confused by costumes, and impressed by impressions. But God sees through all that – He sees a man’s heart. We should take notice. We need to spend less time comparing our bodies to each other and more time contemplating our hearts.