Blind leading the Blind, conclusion

“It is Jesus, he is coming!”

I began to shake. For a moment, I was back in the market surrounded by enemies. My body wracked with the pain of blows I couldn’t see coming. I had no defense, no shelter from the wrath of those who beat me with impunity. The terror of being at the mercy of an enemy I couldn’t escape filled me beyond bearing.

“Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” The words escaped my throat in a rush. I could sense people on either side of me pull back, no doubt not wanting to be too close if my outburst brought punishment. Voices shouted from the direction of the street.

“Shut up, old man.”

“Leave the teacher alone.” Someone nudged me with a sandaled foot. I could not stop shouting.

“Son of David, have mercy on me!” Even as I cried out the words, panic rose within me. What if he ignores me? What if he refuses? I will be like this forever, always afraid, always alone. Wrapping my arms around myself, I began to rock trying to fight back the terror. The voices in the street began to mutter angrily. Beggars were not supposed to demand the attention of important people. Beggars were to meekly accept whatever was given whether blows or blessings.

“Call him.” The voice was calm and firm. My rocking slowed. The panic ebbed away.

“On your feet beggar, he is calling you.”

“Cheer up, he wants you to come to him.” The voices calling out were the same ones that had told me to be still. The words had changed, but the tone did not. They did not like me to bother the man they were following but I did not care. He had answered my call and I must to go to him. I struggled for a moment to untangle my legs from my cloak so that I could stand. Finally, I threw it off. The desperation to go to Jesus overpowered everything else. I staggered to my feet and lurched toward the street.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus spoke calmly. My heart raced.

“Rabbi, I want to see.” For a moment, nothing happened. No one moved. The only sound was that of people breathing and shifting. I flinched as a hand touched my bruised face but the touch didn’t hurt. It was soft and gentle as a breath of wind. Gentle fingers touched my closed eyes then moved away. A moment later the man spoke.

“Go, your faith has healed you.” I could hear the man step back. For a moment, I continued to kneel. Could it possibly be true? I opened my eyes. Brightness seared my brain. My eyes snapped shut once more. The familiar darkness was comforting for a moment, but the memory of that light drew me. I opened my eyes a tiny crack. The light was still bright, but no longer painful. I opened them a little more. The light shifted and moved. It changed from light to dark and back. A little more. The shifting light was shapes moving back and forth around me. I blinked and opened my eyes fully.Dazed, I staggered to my feet. This was sight. It
was more that I had ever dreamed. Colors, what were their names? It was a symphony of shape and color and texture. Tears streamed from my eyes. It was overwhelming.

Can you imagine what it would be like to see for the first time after being born blind. Just having to walk through a strange place without the benefit of my contacts or glasses is enough to send me into a near panic. Imagine seeing nothing but  blackness. Forever. Then Someone comes and offers you sight. The play of light and shadow on water or on a field of grass, the colors of a sunset or the simple perfection of a flower all available to you for the fist time. Even the hard things, the suffering face of a friend, the death of a loved one, the devastation of war. In all of those things, God shows his face, his love, his sorrow.

But do we see? There is none so blind as those who will not see. How many of us have the blessing of sight but refuse to open our eyes to the world around us. God calls us to be salt and light to the world. Our world is hurting so much right now. What are we doing to bring the light of God’s Word to others? How are we leading those we love and even those we don’t to the blessings God has planned for his people.

Open your eyes and see what God has for you today.

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Blind leading the Blind, part 2

The safety of the gate was across the market. Usually, I had the steady presence of a guide to lead me. All I had to do was keep my hand on his shoulder and he would take me through. Today there was no guide; instead,
I would be the one leading the way. Cold sweat trickled down my face. My heart was already beating fast, now it thumped painfully in my chest.

The clamor of the market was disorienting. I could barely hear the buzzing echo but I continued to shuffle forward. No longer sheltered by the wall, people brushed against me on all sides. With every step, my heart pounded harder. My hands moved around hoping to encounter anything that my help me find the way across the market. All I could feel was the shifting wall of people. My fingers touched rough material and smooth skin. A strong hand grabbed my own and twisted.

“Watch it, old man.” The deep voice snarled above me. “Are you trying to steal from me? Trying to take my purse?” Another hand gripped my throat. Hard calluses scraped against my skin and I was lifted off my feet. I gasped for air, clawing at the hand that held me.

“Stop, he is not a thief, we are trying to get to the gate.” Hadar was still there. I wanted to tell him to run and hide lest they turn on him next. How was the boy to find a safe spot? Was anywhere safe?

“To the gate? A beggar then!”

“Come on, beggar, are you hungry? Here’s some fruit for you,” something wet splatted on my head, the juice running down into my ear. The smell of overripe melon washed over me. More rotting fruit and bits of spoiled meat rained down. I couldn’t stop the tears. Pain and humiliation radiated through me.

Later, sitting on the side of the road, I huddled inside my cloak. Hadar had begun our usual plea for alms. For the first time I could not join him. another shudder wracked my body. I could not remember the last time I had been so afraid. Many years ago, I made peace with the fact that God had made me blind. Whether I suffered from the sins of my father or cursed for some sin in my mother’s womb, it didn’t change the fact that I could not see. I had survived. I had learned to live with it and even find a measure of contentment in my life. Now I was afraid.

God why have you turned your back on me? What must I do to be forgiven? Excited whispers around me jolted me from my thoughts.

“What is happening?” I lifted my head from my hands.

“Jesus is coming! The great Healer is coming!”

Blind leading the Blind

As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “Your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Mark 10:46-52

This story has intrigued me for some time. Going blind was a fear of mine since I was young. My optometrist told my mom when I was 13 that I could be legally blind by 18 if I didn’t get contacts to slow the deterioration of my vision. It worked, at ….somewhat older than 18….. I can still see, as long as I have my contacts in, but the fear has lingered. Therefore, the stories of Jesus healing the blind have always drawn me. This story attracts me especially, because Bartimaeus is one of the few names we have of those that were healed. The gospels of Matthew and Luke tell this story as well. They don’t mention the man’s name, but add some other details.

The main part of the story remains consistent. Bartimaeus is sitting beside the road begging, when Jesus comes by, he calls out for mercy. The crowd tries to silence him, but he calls out louder. Jesus has compassion on him and calls him closer and heals him. In Matthew 20, there are two men and Jesus heals them by touching their eyes. Luke 18 adds that he followed Jesus praising God.

I  have begun writing Bartimaeus’ story using details from all three gospels. To me, Bart is a man who had been born blind and has accepted his lot in life. He has taken a boy under his wing who has slowly lost his vision over his youth until he can he can see light and dark, but little else. On the day that they meet Jesus, Bart and the boy have to find their way through the city of Jericho without the benefit of their usual guide. Bart manages well enough until they reach the marketplace. They need to get across relying on their wits and their remaining senses. Can they do it? What happens to make Bartimaeus so desperate for healing?

Tune in next time for more….

Tapestry in the Stars

I finally did it. I saw the Perseid meteor shower, well bits and pieces anyway. I wasn’t able to see the multitudes of shooting stars that my chattering children claimed to see, but I saw enough to make it worth the late nights and bug bites. Tonight I sent the kids to bed and went out to enjoy the stars in peace. I only saw three tonight as they darted between the encroaching clouds, but it was enough. As I watched the sky, picking out the few constellations that I know, I began to wonder. I have been trying to write a Christmas story from the viewpoints of a shepherd, an innkeeper and a magi’s apprentice. The stories of the shepherd and innkeeper are fairly straightforward. the lives of each have been studied closely through the years. but what of the magi, the stargazers? There are many theories and legends of who they were and where they came from. We know they saw signs in the stars, but what were they?

As I gazed at the stars and listened to the song of the night, a scene seemed to open inside my mind:

“What are you doing, Father?”

“I am weaving a tapestry. It is the Story of man and of promise.”

“Can I help you weave?”

“Yes, I am coming to the most important part. It will take all three of us to get it right.” The Father handed his son a strand of bright yarn.

“What if man doesn’t go the way we want him to? He can be very stubborn.” The Son began working the strand into the great tapestry.

“We need to get this part right or it will not come out the way I planned. Use the other strands to guide the ones I give you.” The Comforter knelt beside the Father and the Son. Another bright strand of yarn was given. Together the Father, Son and the Spirit wove the bright strands. When the colors began to mix, a shape formed within the pattern a bright star shone in the center of the tapestry.

“Son, it is time to go.” The Son gave his thread to the Father.

“Will I be gone long?”

“No, not for long, although it may seem so at times.”

“Will it hurt?” The Son stepped away from the tapestry. The star shone brightly at the very center of the pattern.

“Yes. Sometimes there will be pain so great you will think you can’t stand it.”

“Can you come with me?”

“I cannot come, but I won’t be far away. The Comforter will be with you and with me.”

“Do I have to do this?”

“Yes Son. I gave a promise and the three of us must fulfill it.” The Father’s voice was sad. “It is the only way to repair the breach.”

“What do you want me to tell them?” The Son’s voice was growing faint.

“Tell them I love them, tell them I want them to come back home with me.”

“I love them, too. I will not fail, Father. I will do your will, whatever it may cost.”

“I know you will, Son. I am so proud of you.”

But there was no reply. The Father and the Comforting Spirit paused in their labor. There was silence in Heaven for a time, then the silence was broken by the cry of a newborn baby in the night. The Father turned back to the tapestry and took the many strands of thread into His hand.

“It has begun.”

Seeing dimly

Last night I went out to the kennel to bring the dogs in for the night. I looked up and saw a panorama of stars above me. You must understand, I have poor vision and even with glasses and contacts I can not get 20/20 vision. I have seen pictures of the stars that others see and I wonder if we are looking at the same sky. Last night the sky was so clear I could just glimpse a hint of the dimmer stars that I can seldom see. I walked to the kennel with my eyes fixed above me drinking in the sight.
I tried to do the same on the way back in, but leading 3 dogs, one of them still a puppy, on leashes in the dark is not conducive to stargazing. Later that night with my contacts removed and my glasses resting on the dresser, I looked at the blob of light that is the alarm clock beside me. I lay there and dreamed of the someday that I will arrive in heaven and my eyes will be whole. I will be able to see clearly for the first time in my memory. On that final day, we will all see clearly. Even those with perfect vision on earth can see only dim reflections of heaven.
Like Paul when he writes in 1 Corinthians 13:12; ‘Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.’ (Remember that in those times, a mirror was merely a polished piece of metal, usually bronze and generally rather small.) Last night I caught a glimpse of the majesty of the night sky. Someday I will see it in all its glory, but it will pale beside the wonder of the God who created the heavens and the earth.

A breath of fresh air

I sit here at my desk and a breeze kisses my cheek. I look up but all has gone still. A minute goes by, the humid stillness of the house settles around me once more. A trickle of sweat traces a wet path down my brow and a fresh stirring of air cools me. I stand and go to the door. The trees in the yard are dancing in the wind. When I open the door, a breath of fresh air rushes in clearing out the heaviness. I close my eyes and turn my face to the heavens letting the breeze wash over me clearing the stuffiness from my mind. Change is coming.
What kind of change? According to the weather report, the heat wave is broken. The rain is coming bringing with it cooler temperatures and drier air. We often speak of someone being a ‘breath of fresh air’. It is often someone who is content to be him or herself, someone who cheerfully goes about their daily tasks bringing peace and joy in their wake. they are the cool breeze that blows through the stuffiness of our lives. Once they are past, the stuffiness closes back in and we return to the dullness of our lives.
Maybe we shouldn’t return. When the winds of change blow outside the door, something new is coming. When that breath of fresh air passes before you, grab hold (not of the person, of course) and see if a fresh perspective can change the dullness of life. Let the breeze of the Spirit blow through you and clear the cobwebs from your brain, let it remove the scales from your eyes so that you can see the world as our Lord does. Life is full of adventure and hope. The Lord calls us not to be content with the same-old same-old, but to celebrate His life in us everyday.
‘Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.’ Gal. 5:25 Let us walk in step with the Spirit so that we can be constantly refreshed by his breeze.

What is your favorite color?

I was at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers conference last week and one of the other writers asked ‘If you were to have a signature color, what would it be?’ My immediate answer was ‘Green’. it came to me today that these days the word green means more than a color, it means caring for the environment and taking care of the world we live in. I’m all for that, God told us to be stewards of the earth. When I said my color was green, it had nothing to do with environmentalism. I just like the color green.

Why do I like green? To me it is the color of hope. Each spring, the earth is reborn with the first tender shoots of green. In the summer the green deepens with vigorous life. In the fall, the green fades to reveal the vibrant colors that were there to whole time, just waiting for their chance to shine. Then the leaves fall and winter comes, but beneath the snow and ice, the green sprigs of life are just waiting to spring forth again.

When people think of unchanging things in nature, mountains are the first thing to come to mind. I love the mountains, their patience, their endurance. They change but slowly, so slowly, we humans can barely understand it. But Green, the cycle of the seasons we can understand. In the winter, when life seem barren and drab, we know that spring will come. Green is hope, it sometimes is hidden by the barren cold of winter, but when the light of God shines, the hope of life, of green grows again.