Now I See

I love fall. I think it is my favorite time of year. My love affair with Autumn probably got its start because my birthday is in fall. All those years of anticipating parties, presents and cake affected my mind. Now, even when I can’t say I look forward to that proof that I am no longer young, I still love fall. Now it has more to do with clear, crisp days, bright colors and frosty nights.

Sometimes I stand outside in the warm golden sun, and wonder what it would be like to not see the glories of the changing seasons. What if we could not see the faces of our loved ones, the obstacles on a crowded street? Those questions and a hundred more led me to write the story of Bartimaeus.

I drew in a deep, spice-scented breath and took a step, then another, stepping wide to miss the open drain. Hadar’s hand slipped a bit, but he tightened his grip and held on.
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. I held my hands out before me, hoping to encounter anything that might help me find the way to safety. 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 as a strong hand lifted me off my feet. I gasped for air, clawing at the hand that held me.
“Bartimaeus, where are you? Don’t leave me!” Hadar sounded terrified, but I could not offer comfort. My feet twitched as I dangled. The man holding me aloft dropped me. I collapsed to the cobbled street and lay gagging, trying to force my bruised throat to work.
“You are fortunate that I don’t want blood on my new robe, thief, or you would be dead. If I ever see you again, it will be the last time. Now go.” Something hit me in the ribs, further hampering my efforts to breathe. Small hands helped me to my feet. Hadar sobbed quietly in my ear as we stumbled a few steps. Laughter broke out around us and we fell to the ground again.
“Come on, thief, try to take my purse.” A sandaled foot connected to my hip, agony stabbed down my leg. More blows fell; I couldn’t tell if they were from hands or feet. I huddled on the ground trying to protect my head and belly from the blows. Dimly, I heard the sounds of a wounded animal whimpering. The sounds came from me.
“Stop, he is not a thief. We are trying to get to the gate.” Hadar was still there his voice shrill and scared. 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. Anguish and humiliation like I had never known raged through me.

coverRead the rest of Bartimaeus’ story in Now I See, an e-short sold on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O4CWK3U  This story is free to download until Tues. Oct 7 after that it is still a bargain at $0.99. check out my other e-shorts The Gift of Her Son and In His Right Mind.

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Keeping the Faith

Sometimes it is hard to trust.

God has been convicting me about that lately. I have always said that I trust him for the big things. I know I will not be tossed out on the street or go hungry, but is that faith in God or my family? I was blessed with parents, siblings and extended family that I know, beyond doubt, will be there when crisis hits.

But trusting God with the little things- that seems to be another story. I haven’t tithed in years, but have been feeling convicted to start again. I end most months scraping the double rainbowbottom of the barrel money-wise often waiting to purchase groceries and gas, nursing that last jug of milk, that last gallon of gas, until payday. The thought of giving the first 10% of our income to God makes me feel a little sick to my stomach.

Don’t you trust me?

I can hear Him ask it. In my head, I know that I can.

But taking out that pen and writing a check?

Whoa, lets take a step back there, pardner. I have things I need to get with that money, food, clothes for the kids, gas for my husband to go to work, a new book here and there, my guilty pleasure- soda. There’s also the kids dance lessons, Marching Band cost, that writer’s conference I am dying to go to.  I can trim those last few extras out, those last luxuries that have survived the last few budget cuts. The rest are all good things, right? If I give God control of my money, we can’t do those things.

Why not? Am I sure He won’t allow these things to happen? God wants good things for us and our kids. He knows how my children benefit from those extracurricular activities. Doesn’t He love them as much as I do, and more? And the conference, do I truly believe He has called me to write? Can I trust Him to do what is best?

That’s where the rubber meets the road, where the pen touches the paper. I know I can trust Him. He told me and I believe.

In my head I believe.

My white knuckled hand clutches the pen, the check remains blank.

Help me Lord, in my unbelief.

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.

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!”

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.