This fall on my church retreat we were led through a meditation on the story of “Blind Bartimaeus.” This is a commonly used passage for the kind of Scripture meditation we were practicing, but I always find something new in it each time. It humbles me when I begin to think Scripture is old news or I have read it all enough; sometimes we just need a new approach, a new lens, fresh eyes. So as I let the words soak over me, this phrase stuck out:
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Mark 10:48-50
“Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” The ESV uses the phrase, “Take heart.” The Passion paraphrase says, “Have courage! Jesus is calling for you!”
I have spent some time thinking about why that particular phrase stood out this time as I read that passage. God’s call, the invitations He extends to us, are never something to be afraid of, mad about, or to drag our feet in response. It is always for our best. It always involves JOY, even when it involves major change or challenge.
Imagine if Bartimaeus had said, “Oh never mind. I’m too afraid” or “Hold on, I don’t know what You are going to do, Jesus. Give me more information.” He could have missed out on being healed – and missed out on truly experiencing Jesus.
It has made me think; how many times do we ask God for something and then not want to step into whatever it might require of us? How often do we let fear get in the way? Why are we afraid of His call to us?
God’s call requires you to be “on your feet.” Jesus didn’t just walk over to Bartimaeus and immediately heal him. He invited him to come to Him. We can tell how much we actually want something by what kind of effort we are willing to put in. Bartimaeus, I imagine, would have done whatever it took to be given sight.
We are always partnering with God. While His calling might feel overwhelming or unknown, we can trust in His character and His goodness towards us.
He didn’t ask Bartimaeus to come to Him and then list all of his flaws. He didn’t tell him why he was blind or even ask him to do anything. Maybe Jesus just wanted Bartimaeus close to Him.
I continually see how every story always comes back to our view of Jesus. When Jesus says, “Come to me” what emotion does that evoke in you? If it makes you scared or anxious or guilty, why is that? Bartimaeus jumped up, threw his cloak, and probably came to Jesus as quickly as he could. He had probably heard stories of Jesus healing others; he knew His character. Do you believe that God wants good things for you? That is a question I confronted in the past year. I found myself scared of the happy things, because I was certain He would ask me to surrender them. And then it occurred to me, what if He gave me these things Himself, and actually wants me to keep them? What if He really is that good and that kind?
Can I extend some challenges? If you are praying and asking for something specific, are you “on your feet?” Are you actively participating in what God is doing in your life? Or are you sitting on the ground, hoping He will just drop it in your lap? Sometimes we use prayer as a crutch; we depend on it for our provision instead of actively participating in what God is already doing.
For example, if you want to be married, are you talking to anybody? Or are you spending all your nights eating pizza on the couch (look I GET IT. Pizza is dependable, first dates aren’t.)? If you want or need friendship, are you on your feet, actively working towards that? If you need a new direction in life, are you searching or just waiting around?
He is an invitational God. He doesn’t want to just be a vending machine towards us. He wants us to ask, and He wants us to participate. And sometimes we have to get on our feet and maybe enter into some unknown adventure to get where He wants to take us. And sometimes, even when we ask, His answer is no. But we will always be made better in the asking. This story isn’t a promise that we will always get what we want, but that being in proximity to Jesus is never a bad idea. This story shows us that asking from the Lord is a JOY, and leads us into deeper intimacy and trust with Him.
So friend, whatever it is in your life that you are asking for (or wanting to ask for — do it. Ask — and then hear His invite to you) cheer up! On your feet! He is calling you.