At the end of an extremely long day at a baseball tournament yesterday, I came home to face my cluttered house. Between VBS and baseball games and the pool and six kids being home from school, I am, to say the least, a tad behind on housework. The little boys' bedroom looks like ground zero for WWIII, and the kitchen counter is all-too-often made to match. It was in this array of messy-ness that I found my husband's Bible laying on the counter last night, and decided to stop what I was doing, carry it to our bedroom, flop on our bed, pick up my own Bible, and have a fast 3-minute read. Lacking any specific source of direction, I turned haphazardly to the Gospels and landed in Mark 10, and found myself reading about Blind Bartimaeus. I once preached on this passage and it was a real refreshment to read it again. I love the way Bartimaeus "shouted all the more"...
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. 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 [emphasis mine], "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
Smiling at the refreshing of this story in my memory bank, I flipped haphazardly and randomly forward, and landed in Luke 18. I was stunned. Laying there, right in front of me, was the story of the blind beggar (unnamed in Luke) that reads like this...
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied. Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. Luke 18:36-43.
As I sat on my bed in stunned silence, all I could do was start laughing. He is so funny! In my oh-so-very-human experience, there are moments when God feels unreachable, distant, and like He may not be anywhere in my zip code, let alone my bedroom. Of course I know He is always right there, that He never moves, and that the distance is either my own fault or His own purposeful and trustworthy silence. But then there are times when He makes Himself so known to me, it is as if He were sitting right on the bed beside me, flipping the pages of my Good Book with something other than my careless randomness. That was last night for me. So, as I sat on my bed and laughed, I knew, I just knew, that accidents like this do not happen. Jesus Himself was trying to tell me something. I looked at the cross that hangs on my wall, and said, outloud, "What are you trying to teach me, Lord?"
I have been in a tremendous funk lately. Lately being something like a few weeks. Tremendous being, well, tremendous. So great that I allowed a over full week to pass without reading my Bible (perhaps more), I have been yelling at my children far too much, I have been on the brink of tears much of the time, and I have felt the Lord nowhere on my radar map. And I have been hiding all of it, so if anyone reading this is a friend of mine and you are now surprised to read it, sorry. I have been burying my funk, putting on a happy face, and going home to cry. And the whole thing has me totally blindsided, since I am a summer girl and I should be in a wildy summery good mood. Wierd, I know. Anyway, I've been searching my mind and heart for the root cause for my funk, coming up with nothing short of a bevy of reasons. Perhaps it is the adjustment to summer schedules and the near-constant demands on my patience by my children. Perhaps it is that when I have a big project going, my house turns into a mess far greater than my ability to tolerate. Perhaps, for some reason I cannot necessarily explain, I miss (make that ache for) the companionship and comfort of my nightjob husband more than I have in a very, very long time. Perhaps it is all the mud from all the spring rains here in NE Nebraska. Perpahs I am just tired of waiting on things to be "better" or "easier". Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Whatever the cause of my odd-timed depressed state, the end result has been distance from God. I have moved. Changed my zip code. Fairly well believed that the Lord must have forgotten me and my plight. How dumb is that?? Has anyone else ever done that??
So, when He met me in my bedroom last night, and so unexpectedly and undeservedly surprised me with a coincidence of supernatural magnificence, I was stunned. I don't deserve His special attention! I don't deserve a personal message! I've done nothing other than whine, complain, and beg for rescue from Him for weeks, and I deserve nothing other than a time-out for my childish behavior. But, as only our loving and gracious Lord could do, He showed up anyway. Praise Him.
My friends, I think I have said it before, but God is not failing to notice what we are going through. He knows what is getting the best of us. He knows what we are waiting and longing for. He knows what is breaking our hearts and tormenting our emotions. Just like He knew Bartimaeus before one word between them was spoken, He knows our names and knows our pains. The lesson that is ringing in me from the passages He gave me to read last night is this: Shout all the more. Be persistent. Even when others around you, or your worst enemy, or your own mind are rebuking you and telling you to be quiet, keep shouting at Jesus. He will hear you above the crowd. Be willing to throw off your cloak and run to Jesus when He calls your name. Tell Him what you want and in faith, allow Him to do whatever it is He wants to do for you. But never, ever, ever stop shouting.
I feel that there is so much more to say about this coincidence, that there are so many other deeper lessons laying in these passages, but, for now, I am going to stop there, and just say it again...shout all the more. Don't be silent. Shout at Jesus.
He will stun you.