Thursday, March 11, 2010

What I Should Be

Last night at church, the pastor closed his sermon with these words from the gospel of John: "Take heart! Get up! Jesus is calling you!" These were the words the crowd spoke to blind Bartimaeus when Jesus heard his crying out and stopped to help him. Bartimaeus didn't have to be agitated or desperate for help anymore. Help had arrived. All he had to do now was get up, ask for grace, and accept the gift, and that's exactly what he did.

It's easy to get wrapped up in frustration, guilt, and shame because I am not what I should be. I feel like blind Bartimaeus, crying at the side of the road, "Jesus! Lord! I am not what I should be! I am not whole! Please help me!" And yet, when Jesus stops to hear my plea, what will I do? Will I stay hunched by the roadside, paralyzed by my hatred of my own limitations? Or will I take heart, get up, and take action? Will I go out to meet Jesus or will I stay huddled up in my own misery and mess?

Bartimaeus has three lessons to teach me about how to become what I should be:
  1. Ask God for help. Bartimaeus knew he couldn't heal his own blindness. Likewise, I know that I can't correct my own (physical or emotional) defects, and I can't cure myself of my own sin. No matter how hard I try, I cannot make myself be what I should be. I must have God's help in order to fulfill my true potential. God will not force this assistance on me, so I must be wise and humble enough to ask for it. Like Bartimaeus, I must cry out until I am heard, and when my moment arrives I must be willing to stand up and seize it.
  2. Take action. Asking for help is well and good, but I have to do more than just ask. I must get up and go to meet God when He calls me so that I can actively accept the grace He offers. If Bartimaeus had stayed where he was, would Jesus have come to him? We don't know. Jesus called to Bartimaeus and he came and was healed. I too must be willing to do what God asks when He calls to me and to accept the healing on His terms.
  3. To be what I should be, I must stick with God long-term. Bartimaeus didn't go on his way after Jesus healed him. Instead, he followed Jesus—right into Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified not long after. We don't know what happened to Bartimaeus after that, but I'd like to think he became part of the emerging church. Likewise, I can't just look to Jesus as a temporary fix to my problems. He is someone I need in my life all the time. Once I reach out to him and find help, I can't leave again just because things get better. I still need God if I'm really going to be what I should be. Bartimaeus needed more than to receive his sight, and I think Jesus knew that. Bartimaeus got a whole new life, and that's what I want too.
With God's help, I can be what I should be. I'm not going to get there by punishing myself for falling short or by wallowing in self-pity or denial. Bartimaeus could only connect with Jesus when he was willing to cry out, even when the crowd was trying to shush him. He didn't care about anything so much as he cared about connecting with Jesus. I want to feel that way too. That's how I should feel, because a loving and devoted servant of Christ is what I should be.

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