How wonderful it is when a blind man receives his sight, and how tragic when a sighted man goes blind!
How wonderful it is when a lost man is saved, and how tragic it is when one who was saved begins to get lost!
Blind Bartimaeus is a picture (for those who have eyes to see) of our salvation. We are the blind man in this story, and Bartimaeus’s story has been preserved for us not only that we might believe in the power of Jesus to heal blind men but also that we might see ourselves to be blind men who have been healed.
Jesus walks into our lives, doing this in different ways for all of us. At some point in our lives, we cry out to Him because His Spirit has already been at work in us, and we respond by asking Him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves: heal ourselves, save ourselves. Often, there are obstacles to our salvation, but if we persevere in crying out, Jesus will hear and come closer.
At some point, we will notice that He has been calling to us, and so we go to Him. Believing that He can heal us, we ask Him to give us our sight that we might see Him and be saved. Having healed and saved us, He tells us that our faith has made us well. Our response is one of continued faith, of following Jesus on the road He is traveling, once we have been given sight and now can see Him who is the most beautiful sight.
This story plays itself out in countless ways in our lives, and the way Jesus came to you and the way in which you responded to Him will be unique. I was blessed to be born in the presence of Jesus Christ, who came to me in the person of my parents. From an early age, I knew Jesus Christ and believed in Him. For me, there was no single miracle of being given sight but instead a lifelong miracle of being born into sightedness.
But for all of us, I have a challenging question, and that is: What happens after the miracle of sight and of life? When we are first healed, we naturally are very enthusiastic about following Jesus on His path. But this may be less true for those who are born in households of faith and have no extraordinary moment of passing from blindness into sight. On the other hand, one given new life in an instant may not have a life with roots that are as deep.
In each case, however Jesus has come to us, there is the challenge of persevering. I imagine that even someone who was healed as miraculously as Bartimaeus might eventually have the novelty of the miracle wear off. What is the half-life for the “high” produced by a miracle? I believe it’s a lot shorter than most of us would imagine.
What then? What happens after the miracle? What happens in ordinary time on ordinary days with ordinary distractions and ordinary encounters with Christ and ordinary events that might lead some to believe in a naturalistic worldview?
What happens then is faith and faithfulness. What happens is that the training wheels of miracles are taken off, the Lord takes His hand off the bike, and He sees how you’ll do with what He’s already given you. What happens is that you fall off the bike sometimes and skin your knees and palms and bruise your shins and ego. What happens is that if you persevere you’ll figure out how to ride more gracefully and delightfully.
But being a Christian is not like riding a bike after all. They say you never forget how to ride a bike, and that’s probably true. But we do forget how to be Christians. After the miracle has worn off, we go back to being blind sometimes and living lives without Jesus Christ. After we have been given our sight and begun to follow Jesus, the wild excitement of sight is tamed.
Is there a remedy for apathy? Is there some way we can keep from being bored and complacent in our spiritual lives and following the slow road back to blindness?
I think the answer lies in following Jesus every day. He may not perform another miracle today for you, but after His initial miracle of healing you and giving you the gift of sight to see Him, you don’t really need one. All you really need is to continue looking for Him and, having found Him, to follow Him.
Every day, no matter what’s happened the night before, I wake up anxious to see my fair Jackie again. I like seeing her for the first time in the day.
[I wrote this part 6 years ago: My 2-year old Gloria never fails to delight me every morning when I see her. Her earnest verbalizations about what she cares about, her pinned back hair revealing the large domed Erlandson forehead, her bogus explanations for why she is unable to do things (my favorite one: “Um . . . because I was feezing cold!), and all of her other antics make me want to see her and be with her.]
What I really need is to anxiously look for Jesus every morning and delight in Him when I find Him. What I really need is to see Him in my wife and my children and my every circumstance of life. The truth is that Jesus comes and calls to me every day, but not that He may perform a miracle. Mostly, He just wants to see if I’ll come and follow Him down the normal adventure He has planned for me today.
It’s like the movie Groundhog Day in which Bill Murray keeps waking up and going through the same thing every day. At first, it is boring, but then he discovers that even in the ordinary things of life there is grace waiting to happen. So, rather than griping and groaning because Jesus doesn’t multiply the bread and fish again or give me sight once again, now that I have my daily bread and sight I’m supposed to use them to see and follow Jesus, even in the ordinary things.
That’s the challenge of today and every day: to see Jesus again. He’s all around you, and in you, you know. He’s in the sun, and He’s in the clouds. He’s in my children, and He’s in your children. He’s up late at night with me when I can barely keep my sighted eyes open, and He’s up with me early in the morning when I can barely keep my sighted eyes open. He’s here when life is good and I remember to be thankful, and He’s there when I am weak and lonely and think I can’t possibly do what He’s asked me to do.
Go, your faith will make you well. You have been given the gift of the most special and wonderful sight of all: the ability to see Jesus Christ by faith.
Prayer: O Father, Creator of the eye and all that the eye beholds, look at me today with Your perfect sight. Take the log out of my eye that I may see You better. Open my eyes from my dream of myself and awaken me to Your presence in my life today. Having made me a child of the Light, help me to walk in light that I may become the light as You are light. Having come into your presence, let Your good works through me shine as a light in this dark world. Amen.
Point for Meditation:
1. What moments of receiving sight have you had in your life? What was your response? Look for such moments today, however little, and respond appropriately.
2. The moment you finish this meditation, imagine that you have just received your sight. What do you see? How should you respond to God in what you see?
Resolution: I resolve to practice looking for God in as many areas of my life today as I can. If this is too difficult for me, I resolve to look in one particular place until I have seen Him.
© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson