October 21, 2009

a helpful question

At lectionary group yesterday, TKT asked a helpful question. As we discussed the Bartimaeus story and how it intersected with ours he wanted to know what you say to the person in the pew who says, "I've been asking God to remove this barrier, heal this infirmity, make me whole for a decade now, and nothing has changed"?

It is an unanswerable question. We do not know the mind of God. We don't know what is going on in the secret life of the person asking. But a few hours later, I got a glimpse of maybe why the mountain doesn't always move out of the way when we ask.

Jesus calls Bartimaeus to come, others relay the message and then Mark gets strangely descriptive as Bartimaeus approaches Jesus, "throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus."

Batrimaeus threw off his cloak. His only possession. The thing that made him him. His tie to the days and nights on the street outside of Jericho. He let it all go to approach the Son of David; the Messiah.

How often do we ask God to remove an obstacle to faith from our lives, only to pick up two or three more? When we ask to "see" do we at the same time hope we can go deaf to God's call in our lives? Do we give up our old life even before our new one is fully revealed? Is our faith strong enough to know that we will be made whole even as we approach the Lord still blind?

I don't think the cloak is an idle detail in Mark. I think it is that last item that each of us carries that gets in the way of the fullness of relationship that God wants. My cloak might be pride. Yours might be money. Others might carry lust or laziness or fear or anger. But in order to receive the gift of wholeness we must cast it aside. Otherwise we end up like the blind man in Bethsaida - our eyes are open, but the picture isn't clear.

May God give us the strength to cast aside our cloaks.

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