Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Being Bartimaeus

Never knowingly tempt the devil.
In a post on October 12th, writing about my contraction of the flu, I summed up the post by saying...

"Because I want the devil saying, "Oh, crap...She's up!"
Because I want him to know me as the threat that I can be."

Is that a challenge or what?!?
It may not read as one.
But in my heart of hearts, I knew what I was saying.
"Come and get me...'cause you can't keep me down."

Worse, I think I knew what I meant.
Not "come at me because my Father is stronger than you and He wants me doing His work."
But "come at me because my will is stronger than your power, and I'm needed to do His work."
Wahn, wahn, wahn...
It's surprising what a subtle shift of language can do.

Today I wish I had said it as a woman of faith and not a woman of pride.
Because three weeks later, I am sicker now than I was before.

This past Sunday, the Gospel reading was all about that man of faith, Bartimaeus, in Mark's book.
You know this guy?
The one blind since birth who asks to see?
Father Francis opened my eyes (yeah, yeah, pun intended) to the miracle of this reading in his homily.
Yes, of course, it was a miracle that Jesus restored the vision of a man blind since birth.
But the miracle wouldn't have been set in motion if not for the faith of this simple man and his request.
To me, this may be the most astounding part of the miracle...

"...As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus...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!”
...Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “...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 (my edits notated "...")

You see, Jesus, gave Bartimaeus the chance to ask Him for something specific.
He could have asked for a walking stick...
Or a companion to care for him...
Or shelter & food to get him through his sightless days.

But no, Bartimaeus asks for far and away the most incredible blessing he can think of.
The mother of all requests.
He asks for his sight.
And because he articulates this desire, Jesus acknowledges his faith and grants him this profound gift.
This kind of faith is staggering to fathom.

Further, as I reread the passage this morning, two other items of note leap to my consciousness.

  1. Bartimaeus presents this impossible request in front of Jesus, the disciples, and a large crowd.  He doesn't grovel in a corner.  He doesn't ask in shame or embarrassment.  He proclaims this seemingly unworkable favor in front of the throngs, thus giving Jesus a chance to bless him openly; work a miracle; further His ministry.
  2. After Bartimaeus receives his sight, he doesn't run back to his family and friends.  He doesn't receive his blessing then take off and just enjoy.  He "follows Jesus along the road."  He stays with Jesus. He illustrates his faith still further by continuing to follow.

This morning as I prepare for a visit with my doctor, I humbly realize that my faith is unbearably small sometimes.  
I realize that instead of groveling and hiding small requests in embarrassment...
"Jesus please give me strength today,  Help me feel better," I should be stepping out in Bartimaeus-like faith.
Jesus is asking me every day, "What do you want Me to do for you?"

So for a day, I'm going to cease being Cynthia.
And instead, I'm being Bartimaeus.
I'm stepping out in that kind of awe-inspiring faith and proclaiming the far and away most bold request I can.

"Jesus, I want to be healed fully...
To be restored...
To be strong...
I want to "see" you in every possibility.
I want my health back - beyond what is was to the very most healthy, strong woman I can be."
And I will say this with the knowledge that it is not my strength and will that is making me well, but His in whom I have faith.

Come to think of it, perhaps I should try being Bartimaeus every day.
With faith that can heal so many ills.
With faith that will follow Jesus along any & every road ahead.

{Pray with me in confidence that Jesus can 
heal & uphold anyone and any illness today?  
Praying for each of you in that same spirit.
Thanks for reading.} 

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