Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Returning to the roadside

Remember when I said that there was so much more to be learned from our new friend Baritmaeus? Let's return to his roadside...

I live in the wealthiest nation in the world in a time when acceptance of others runs rampant. I have a husband who loves me, six healthy children, an air-conditioned home, an adequate wardrobe that includes 3 pairs of flip-flops, and a decent face to look at (or so I have been told). I am fortunate beyond worth. But sitting in stark contrast to my incredible health, wealth, and family, is the blind man Bartimaeus, whom we just encountered in my last post. Allow me to refresh your memory. Mark 10:46...Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging.

Was Bartimaeus blind from birth? We don't know. Was he a young man, or was he going grey? Again, we don't know. What we do know is that Bartimaeus was born in a time when physical defect was a thing of shame. In his day, being blind was a source of perpetual rejection, a cause to call into question the role of sin in his life, and was a curse that had driven our buddy Bart into a lifetime of begging. He could not work. There were no government programs to help him, unlike our modern times today. Bartimaeus was forced to sit by a roadside, a man of perpetual rags and filth, and beg for any ounce of kindness or mercy that may be offered from the very members of society who daily rejected him. I am sure it was not a pretty picture.

At the very minimum, reading even one verse about Bartimeaus should cause us all to stop and thank the Lord for the abundant blessings in our lives. Do you have health enough to work? Praise the Lord! Are you well fed, even perhaps too well fed, are you warm at night, and do you feel safe in your home? To God be the glory! Do you have family and friends who love you? Then say hallelujah! Even if you can only answer yes to just one of those questions, you are more fortunate than our new friend Bart.

Praise. the. Lord.

Let's go one step further on this journey with Bartimaeus, and see what else we can learn from this encounter between a social reject and our Living Lord. Mark 10:47 & 48...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!" Did you catch that?! He began to shout! I imagine Bartimaeus waving wildly in his total blindness, perhaps in a complete frenzy, not even knowing the exact place where Jesus was, but knowing that He was there. Bartimaeus was shouting Jesus' name in passion and desperation. He would have been causing quite a scene.

When was the last time you shouted to the Lord? When were you so desperate for Him that you took no heed of your self-consciousness or of who might hear you, and shouted to the Lord? Was it yesterday? Last month? Once a really long time ago? Have you ever done that? It would be easy to blame our lack of passionate desperation for the Lord on things like modern society, political correctness, and personal inhibition. We're conditioned to keep our desperation to ourselves, to keep our faith quiet, to keep our weaknesses tidy. (I've been doing it recently, for weeks, in fact.) But what we all have to remember is that Christ wants to hear us shout His name. He wants you and I to turn to Him in our weaknesses, our desperations, and our heartaches. He wants us to shout out to Him without fear of rebuke or embarrassment. And I'll prove it. Continuing in Mark 10, verse 49a...Jesus stopped and said, "Call him."

Bartimaeus shouted, Jesus responded. It's that simple.

Continuing with verses 49 & 50...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.

I love that response!! Bartimaeus threw his cloak and jumped up at the invitation by Christ! He was ready! He probably ran right to Jesus. Now, I asked you already when you last shouted at Christ, but how about this...when was the last time you ran to Christ? Was it yesterday, last month, ever? Have you ever literally jumped up, throwing aside whatever you were holding onto at the time, and ran to your Savior when He called? My friends, Jesus Christ is calling to each of us every day. At the minimum, He is calling us all to know Him better, calling us to repentance, calling us to obedience, calling us to more joy, calling us to love others just a little better than we do on our own, calling calling calling. And for some, He may be calling in a very specific way, like calling you to take on a new challenge at church. Or you may be being called to change jobs. Or to follow Him into ministry. Or to forgive someone who wronged you. Maybe you've heard that little voice in your head and pushed it aside, pretending it was nothing, rationalizing all the reasons why you can't possibly do that. Wrong.

If Jesus is calling you, you must jump up and answer Him. Today. Now. Right now.

I know I am like Bart, in that I have been calling, not always shouting but definitely calling out to Jesus, but in some ways I have not fully jumped up and ran to Him because He is not yet fully answering me. Anyone relate to that?? I think God actually likes to do that to us, you know; to bring delays to our questions. Like He wants to see just how badly we really want it, or how loudly we'll actually shout to get it, while He makes us wait until we are truly ready for it. He is so very wise that way. But taking our lesson from Baritimaeus, we are supposed to shout all the more! Bartimaeus knew Christ was there, even though he did not have eyes to see Him. He knew Christ had the power, even though he could not feel it yet. He had faith. He had the faith that Christ could remove his blindness, and he had the persistence to go after it.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
Bartimaeus could not see, but he was certain.
Bartimaeus lived a life totally void of hope, but he was sure.

Mark 10: 51 & 52..."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.

I cannot pretend that God will heal every problem if we ask, or that He will fix our ailments, or make us perfect, just by our shouting. What I can state with confidence, however, is that our faith is our key to true healing. Our faith is Christ's desire for us. Sometimes, our faith is all we have. Even though we cannot predict the will of God and the outcome of our requests, we must take a lesson from Bartimaeus and ask anyway. In fact, we must be willing to shout. We must be willing to wave blindly toward the spot we know Christ is standing, even though we cannot see Him. We must open our ears to Christ's voice, and we must throw our cloaks aside and jump to our feet if He calls. We must follow Him along the road.

To God be the glory.


David said...

I wonder if we need to be struck blind before we can shout to Jesus to come and open our eyes. Maybe we are too blest.

Debby said...

WOW (that is shouting in email speak) - YOU GO GIRL!!! THANK YOU, LORD, FOR SPEAKING TO ME THROUGH SHELLY!!! It is amazing how God sends all these thoughts to you and you and share them with us in such a powerful way. Thanks.

Shelly said...

This blog, and the thoughts that it is filled with, is SUCH a privilege. It am blessed immensely when others read it and are touched by it. I am honored. Give Him the glory! Thanks :)

samm said...

God has a furious longing for us.....I'm just saying...
Pastor Samm