Choosing new frames at the opticians is never easy.
Because I’m so short-sighted (-10.75), on a recent visit I had to resort to taking ‘selfies’ so I could see each of the contenders properly. Even then, the photos didn’t really tell me what they looked like. But, after gauging family opinions on the possibilities, and accompanied by my wife and an excellent practitioner, a further appointment settled on the right ones. Well, I hope they will be.
Now you may be thinking – oh, here he goes, trite message about how looking through the right lens to ‘correct our vision’ means we’ll see God more clearly.
And while there is truth in that, even the best specs don’t guarantee perfect vision all the time. Doing ‘all the right things’ doesn’t mean we ‘get it all right’ – and for me, that ‘corrective’, right versus wrong approach to Christian living is not only demoralising but misses the point about God’s astonishing love for us.
It reminds me of the story of the healing of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar in Jericho. Sat by the road, he hears Jesus approaching, calls out and, miraculously, his sight is restored (Mark 10:46-51).
For Bartimaeus, it was his faith in Jesus that enabled him to see clearly. But it wasn’t just about that.
That encounter is also about the question Jesus asked: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’
Imagine for a moment, Jesus asking you that question.
Possibly, like many of us, you may have a very long list of answers… You may be thinking, well I’ve asked you to do lots of things which haven’t happened… Our unanswered answers are tough at times, aren’t they?
It can be difficult to hold that apparent absence of response in tension with things Jesus promised: “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7) and “…if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:23-24)
Bartimaeus. There he was. A beggar. An outcast. People always telling him to be quiet. He had no place in the presence of the new kid in town.
And afterwards… yes, he could see again. Yes, some would be amazed by his miraculous healing. But I guess he also remained a beggar and an outcast. And people would still tell him to shut up.
But perhaps, despite all that, his faith remained strong.
It can be like that for us: we receive some of the things we want, while other things remain difficult.
So, looking deeper, what of our faith – what do we want Jesus to do for our belief and trust in him?
You may like to find a quiet space.
Imagine for more than a moment, Jesus with you.
And Jesus says: “What do you want me to do for you?”