Mark 10:46,50b-52a – A blind man, Bartimaeus … 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." (NIV)
Going to the peak of a snow-covered mountain, slapping two skis onto one's feet, and screaming downhill isn't everyone's idea of fun. For the blind, it might sound impossible.
John, a fun-loving, middle-aged man — blind from birth — has an unusual way to compensate for his lack of vision while skiing. John has me, as his guide, ski in front of him, carrying a small device that emits a loud, constant beeping sound. He follows, always skiing within a few metres of the sound. John's sharpened hearing allows him to sense a change in my direction, and he duplicates that change.
Just to ensure that other skiers are made aware of the potential danger, John wears a florescent orange vest embossed with, "BLIND SKIER". I wear a vest saying "BLIND GUIDE". I am not oblivious to the irony. "Blind guide"! As a pastor, I feel that way, sometimes. John hasn't lost the irony in my "blind guide" vest either. He has a fabulous sense of humour.
At the top of a high mountain, it must be intimidating for him. But for me, literally having his life in my hands can be overwhelming. John's safety depends solely on my sighted world, on my ability to interpret that world for him, and his ability to hear and follow. For John, it is either complete trust or utter chaos.
I think that this is a great example of what it means to live by faith.
When John obeys my direction, he succeeds. A lack of faith in me, or failure to hear and respond to my transponder, could end in failure for John — even to the point of crashing into a tree or skiing over a precipice.
John is an inspiration to me, as are all individuals who overcome any limitation — especially those who keep a sense of humour along with it. Most such inspirational stories are stories of faith. To accomplish anything worthwhile in life, we need faith in ourselves and our own abilities, faith in others, and faith in God.
Bartimaeus was such a person. He had that kind of complete, unquestioning faith in Jesus and His ability to make him whole, to restore his sight. Over the objection of his friends, Bartimaeus continued to yell out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" When Jesus returned his call, Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, presumably so he could run unencumbered to Jesus. He was quickly rewarded for his faith, in a way beyond his wildest dreams.
Oh! that we would all have Bartimaeus' faith, and run unencumbered when we hear Jesus calling our name! With Jesus as our guide, we would all then be able to sing, "I once was blind, but now I see." Our reward for hearing and following may just be beyond our wildest dreams.
Prayer: Loving God, allow us to keep You ever before us, as guide and friend. May we follow You closely and constantly, never straying from Your direction. "Lord, open my eyes that I might see glimpses of truth You have for me." Amen.