Just another traveler on life’s highway, hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. Beyond the horizon rest is calling my name. Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.
Everybody raise their hand who has been sick in 2018. Yes, I’m talking about those days when the influenza in your home town finally catches up to you. You have taken precautions, you have avoided crowded rooms, you meticulously wiped down your grocery cart’s handle with a sanitizing wipe, but one morning you wake up and there it is.
Feeling green, sniffling, headache, fever, running to the bathroom every 10 minutes. It’s not something which I love enough to enjoy , but when I realize I will be sick for a few days, I relish the thoughts of having an excuse to be all about me, me, me.
“Oh, sweetheart, please fetch my slippers. Can you bring the newspaper over to me? I’m so cold, would you find my favorite blanket.”
I line up a full day of watching TV because I’m sick. I hang out in my jammies all day because I’m sick. I cancel all activity outside my own little crisis because I’m sick. I become a grouch with the excuse that I’m sick. I yell at the dog because I’m sick. I’m sick, sick, sick, and the world needs to tend to my needs.
That’s me when I get sick. I’m sure none of you are like that. When I don’t feel well I sometimes forget that I’m a Jesus freak. I forget that there are people in the world who are starving and homeless. I forget there are some who are also sick with the latest round of influenza and have no bed in which to snuggle, no fuzzy blanket with which to cover themselves, no chicken broth to warm their insides. For them being sick with flu is sometimes a matter of life and death and it intensifies the misery that normally fills their lives.
I relate the times of physical sickness to the days of soul sickness, the days spent in the hell of alcoholism. When my flu finally reaches its worst point and recovery appears on the horizon, I become ecstatic with the thought that there is nowhere to go but up. It’s similar to the transformative realization that when I hit the bottom in my alcoholism, I was ready to be healed and get healthy. Life was guaranteed to get better. No, not easier or trouble-free, but better.
The book of Luke tells us about Jesus walking with his disciples to Jerusalem. He knew he was about to be betrayed, tried, tortured, and crucified. Undoubtedly Jesus was sad and conflicted about that which was about to happen. I would be. I would be mortified and screaming to God to find another course for me to follow. The last thing on my mind would be the suffering of another person. “Me, me, me. All of you, pay attention to me, I’m about to be crucified in a few days.”
When they came to Jericho, a blind man named Bartimeus sat by the roadside begging. He heard that Jesus was coming,
“…..he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.”
Jesus heard Bartimeus and commanded him to come forward, “What wilt thou that I should do unto you?”
“…..Lord, that I might receive my sight.”
The last line, verse 52 of Mark 10 tells us that Bartimeus did indeed receive his sight and followed Jesus in THE WAY.
There are astonishing lessons for us in this account by the author of Mark. 1) Bartimeus had such great unconditional faith in the power of Jesus that, after his miraculous healing, he became a follower of the movement of Jesus and his disciples which was called THE WAY, 2) a fully human Jesus, undoubtedly overwhelmed with great despair over his approaching crucifixion, nevertheless overshadowed his own sorrow with compassion for a suffering blind man.
Could I do that? Probably not. I’d be in bed under my blankets whining for my jammies and hot chicken broth.