Tag Archives: Religion

The Lunch Box

Recently in a SoulCare session, I found myself sharing a tender memory of my Dad and his black loggers lunch box as a way of explaining the “gifts” of God.  The way He surprises us with the unexpected.

My Daddy’s lunchbox was the source of much excitement at the end of a long day.  The road to town was a winding one that didn’t beg to be traveled more than once a day.  So, early in the morning Dad would rise before the sun was up, pour his cup of black joe with three sugars, load his old loggers lunch box with the carefully wrapped wax paper bologna sandwiches Mom had made the night before and down the road to work he would go.  Because we lived so far out, Dad was the point of contact with the post office, the grocery store, the pharmacy and whatever else his large family of seven might need.

The opening of the  old lunch box held so much daily potential for joy and sorrow. It was a race to see who would get to open it first, there to find the love letters, lost letters, the occasional Idaho Mountain candy bar, cherry for me, vanilla for Him.   The surprise of a large piece of a bee’s honeycomb he had found in a tree he had cut down, with the amber sweetness still clinging to it.  To this day I remember my first taste of wild, fresh honey. You never knew what the lunch box would hold for that day…”life is like ….Dad’s lunch box….you never know what ya gunna get”.

The Lord has spoken to me often during this year of grieving the loss of my parents.  He has deepened my understanding of His Father’s heart in ways that has both excited, and terrified me.  Through it all, I am thankful that I am discovering a God who delights in giving gifts, and when that gift is the escort of pain, I know I can open the lid of the box, and I will find a tender relationship of love that whispers:  “As I was there in the joy, I am here in the sorrow.”

We took Dad’s old lunch box down from the shelf and used it one last time, to hold the cards and love wishes of those at his memorial service who expressed their hearts to us as they said goodbye.  Thank you Dad, for the lifetime of lessons you taught me from the lunch box.  img_20160916_101117750_hdr

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Seed Silent

I have been silent of late. Not the sulking, depressed, anti-social, need to be hidden kind of silent, but the seed kind of silent.  Surrender silent.  The way the seed falls into the cool, dark blackness of earth and gives up one identity for the promise of another. Expectant kind of silent. The promise of the hard outer shell of familiarity cracking under the pressure of the moisture and the weight of the soil.  Longing silent. The way the lover sun pulls on the tenderness of the sprout coaxing and wooing it to the surface with promises of union and purpose and destiny.

This has been my silence as I walked my  earth wet with tears and felt the weight of the reality of my dust.  I have learned a lot about my seed self.  I have experienced paradigms shifting in every facet of my being.  Who I thought I was as Child, Mother, Wife, Friend, Worshipper…all being touched by the Master Gardener’s hand each time with one question:  “Do you yield?”

Will I yield to the work of the silence and surrender? Or die, a hardened intact seed with all of my potential locked inside me?

I bow and stretch and embrace pain as escort.  For the first time I am learning what it really means to be alive.  The why behind each breath and heartbeat.  I want to live.  Live intentionally and purposefully.  I am done with existing. There is so much more to it than that.

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Wait For Me

It is Sunday as I write this.  The house is quiet, dogs are at my feet, the Gardener is napping, the sun is slowly moving behind the trees, the evening song is being sung by every robin and blue bird around the meadow.  It is a tarrying moment, and I am in it.

I had the privilege of experiencing a few of those in worship during our recent women’s conference.  Those moments where we corporately don’t push through the agenda, but we wait.  We hang out on a chorus, or a line or a phrase…and we sing it until we mean it.  It is balm to the soul of those whose spontaneous worship to God is a love language of prayer, and it is chaos to those who need definitive parameters, structure, and organization.  To one the tarrying, the waiting, the “pause” is a Hallelujah, to another it is Anathema.

Which is right?  I began to dig into the meaning of standing before the Lord to minister to him, or wait on him.  In Hebrew the word for tarry, or stand, is “amad”  it means :

A primitive root; to stand, in various relations (literally and figuratively, intransitively and transitively): – abide (behind), appoint, arise, cease, confirm, continue, dwell, be employed, endure, establish, leave, make, ordain, be [over], place, (be) present (self), raise up, remain, repair, + serve, set (forth, over, -tle, up), (make to, make to be at a, with-) stand (by, fast, firm, still, up), (be at a) stay (up), tarry.

I wonder if sometimes we get so caught up in our “ministry” to others….we forget the first priority is to minister to the Lord.  To wait upon him, for him, with him…to be present in our songs, and words and prayers.  To show up full hearted longing to just be with him.  In the Old Testament, this was done in open context.  Not behind closed doors, shut away and hidden from view.  It was PDA .  (Public Display of Affection).  Something we are not comfortable with, in any context, especially church.

Yet, when you look around at creation, and you see the work of HIS hands, it is all PDA. The birds, the bees, the animals, the sun, the moon the stars… all loving Him openly without shame according to their creation.  The racket in the trees this evening was pure delight.   Why then does it become such an issue of discomfort when we sit in the space designed and set aside for the sake of HIS name and love him in patient intentionality?  Why does it somehow become wrong to move carefully and gently through prayers, music, scripture, testimony, psalms and spiritual songs?  What is the real reason we come together?  Why are we doing what we are doing if what we are doing is not about loving HIM?

Will there be separate places of worship in Heaven?  I can’t find that.   All I see is that all of creation in heaven, on earth, under the earth come into agreement in extravagant lavish love throwing down crowns, singing, falling prostrate, adoring, and refusing to be without him.  If Jesus said his desire was that the will of the Kingdom of His Father would be made manifest in the Earth, and it is Heaven’s will to give praise, and adoration to the Son why can’t we agree with Him, and love Him by waiting on him?

One of the scriptures that causes me to ache often, is that of Mat 26:38:

Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

Ahh, but because they fell asleep, and they didn’t stand, tarry, wait, watch, linger, worship, pray, kneel, commune, remain, dwell….with him, I think we have lost something of what it really means when our Savior asks us to wait for/with him.  We fell asleep and lost the definition according to passion of our Bridegroom’s heart.  Perhaps that is why when he rose, he commanded them to wait, tarry, stand, pray, remain in community together, until the Holy Spirit was given in fire, and power and unction.  It would be the Holy Spirit who would teach them how to wait, how to hear.  But, the Holy Spirit, the Ruach Ha’Kodesh…yeah…he is unpredictable and undefinable, and unrelenting, he is…unsafe.

So we say he is welcome in our midst, to have his way and sing his song, and love through us, until it becomes uncomfortable and moves us out of what is the standard operating procedure in our sacred spaces dedicated to worship.  Then, we call that disorder and chaos and we can not receive or embrace the vessels or their worship and we turn away from the dancing king…perhaps, that is why we have been barren as a church, for so very long.

2Sa 6:20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!
2Sa 6:21 And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD.
2Sa 6:22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.
2Sa 6:23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

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God Came Cold-Old Smoke pt 3

God came cold on Valentines Sunday to the Preacher’s church. The sister found him curled up in the February frost in front of the doors to the sanctuary-he’d been there all night.  She called the Preacher and the Preacher called the Gardener, and we looked at each other and knew…”Old Smoke.”

The Gardener hurried to shower and dress turning to me with his hand on the door his steel blue eyes pierced me with their intentionality.

“We have to be very careful with this.  I’m telling you, this is a gift from God today, and how we handle this is going to make all the difference…you know?”

I smiled and lowered my eyes, “oh, I know, it is more than just a homeless man on the steps of our church…this is GOD, I’ll be right behind you! ” The Gardener smiled and nodded and raced off the mountain into the valley to be there to care for God in disguise.  Like Abraham rushed to attend the mysterious guests on that dusty afternoon where the fate of a city hung in the balance,  we found ourselves rushing to be present to the need of love that left itself at our doors. Several times I had to let my foot off the accelerator as I traveled the windy gravel road to town.

“Why am I speeding?” I mumbled to myself with a shake of the head as I crested the hill that overlooks the valley and began my decent. As I gazed at the spring mist filling the valley floor, and pondered my need to rush to church, the presence of love filled my truck and a tender voice whispered to my heart-

“Because, love compels.”

I wept. This is what it feels like?  This is what love does to you when you know who you are really serving, giving, caring for?  This is what it feels like to have your feet racing to do good?  Love compels the heart to give all it has, all the time, in every situation.  Love compels the extra mile, the only cloak, the humble turning of the smitten cheek. Love compels the cross.

I threw the truck in park and rushed into the sanctuary only to find The Sister weeping gently in quiet attendance to the man sleeping in the chair.  She had offered him a cup of coffee and a roll, wrapped him in her soft blanket and set him next to the fireplace, where he promptly fell asleep.

“This old man, was someone’s baby boy.  I want to hold him, and tell him it is going to be ok. Is that crazy?”  She choked out the whispered words, her hands trembling with compelling love.

“No, it’s not crazy”  I whispered back through my own tears, “You see, this is God, this is our Valentine gift from Heaven.  We get to love the least of these well today.”

We nodded, and wept and tucked him in a little closer to the fire, and waited to see what the congregation would think of God.

India Daily Life

Burning Boxes

Mar 8:37  

For what can a man give in return for his soul?

Yesterday we burned the past.  Box after box was hauled from the back porch to the burn pile.   Boxes we had crated and stored with every move we have made.  Boxes of lives we were a part of, dreams we helped build. Boxes of stories.

The Gardener and I gazed through the smoke reading the bittersweet expressions on each other’s faces as years of our lives and hundreds of thousands of hours were emptied onto the flames.  Bittersweet.  Bitter because of the demands our business put on our relationship, our parenting, our friendships.  Bitter because of the chasing of fame, and fortune which consumed so many of our days now reduced to dust.  Bitter the reality of poor choices made, compromises considered, risks taken so costly.   Bitter the yearning for opulence and the clanging of coins in the purse.

Yet, sweet in a melancholy sort of way. Sweet the way hearts were turned into homes.  Sweet the talents and gifts of skilled hands, loyal laborers, artisan craftsman.  Sweet the way we helped a community to prosper and flourish and change.  Sweet the strength of vision and the longing for place.  It was just the wrong place.

As I sat under the candlelight of the evenings Lent service, the words of Mark 7 echoed through me.  I realized there is nothing I would give, no treasure that would tempt me from this place of soul.  There was nothing this world could offer me to trade for this new Shalom.  Though I am poorer in state than in the days of the boxes, I am richer in presence.  Richer in love. Richer in peace and vision.  I have pulled up the stake, and followed hard after the lover of my soul.  I do not long for the boxed life.  The life that was eaten by strangers, and given to other people’s children in the worship of culture, and power, and greed.  I long for my soul to be broken bread and poured out wine in the ministry of life-the life of Christ.

The boxes are still smoldering tonight.  It seems the boxed life does not die easily.  I think I will go stir the pile and resurrect the flame.  I think I will smile at the edge of the ashes.  Smile at the choice to not trade the freedom of living this God breathed authentic moment for any gilded box of earthly treasure.

You oh Lord are the anchor of my soul.  In you I delight.  In you I will never be put to shame.  Hold me close to your heart in these days to the cross.  Hold me as I gaze upon your choice and love you in the midst of suffering.

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Sifted

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,
 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Luke 22:31-32 ESV

I have been sifted.  I know the Riddler’s voice in my head.

“You aren’t strong enough, brave enough, good enough, righteous enough, you aren’t enough.  No one sees, hears, knows, cares, loves you.  He doesn’t love you…He isn’t even real.  What if this is all a lie?  What if this is all there is?  What if they are right? What if you are alone? How could a good God-”

I know what it is to stare at a black canyon at midnight at 70 mph.  I know what it is to not believe the spark of life inside of me is worth fanning into flame. I know what it means to take my hands off the wheel and just quit.  I know the selfishness of self-absorption.

I know what it is to make grand declarations of allegiance to a Savior I wasn’t so sure I would die for.  I know what it is to wrestle with the whisper of “is this real” and “is there really a God who loves you anyway?”  I know what it is like to run away from the fellowship of hand warming when a babe questioned my walk. I know Peter, he is my brother.

“…but I have prayed for you”

Those words.  Some of the most powerful words to encounter my life became for me a living stone.  A God made flesh, incarnation of love in me reality.  A memorial of the way I was spoken back into existence and caused to stand upon feet firm and solid in faith.   He prayed for me.  My Intercessor asked for me to receive strength to not lose heart. To not give up. To find true faith. He made a way in me to Him in the middle of the dark forest of my wandering. Because he scattered crumbs from the table of his presence I did not die in my rebellion. When I was his enemy, he fed me. He prayed for me.

“and when you have turned again-“

I know what it is like to have sunlight pierce midnight.  To have words form inside of my spirit blast against darkness.  I know what it is like to hear the footsteps of love approach my wretchedness and  transform the hanging ropes of despair into ribbons of grace.  I know what it is to come groping into the light blindly waving my hands in front of my face to catch my stumbling steps, only to feel the steady grip of acceptance upon my shoulder.

“strengthen your brethren”

Can you really heal wounds if you yourself have never bled? Can you give hope when you know nothing of darkness or the pressure of the sieve? Can you lead anyone if you yourself have not turned resolutely to life? Can you teach anyone to pray, having not felt the posture of humility before the greatness of His love? Can you war, if you have never lost?

I know the sound of tempered steel.  I know what it is to be weighed on the proving grounds, and waged in battle.  I know now the treasure of  whom I have believed.  I know the way of narrowness and I have light for midnight. I know the fight of faith is a good one, a noble race run. I am at last able to say, I follow Christ because I know Him.  I know as I have been known.  He lives in me. I live in Him. I know the life I live is not my own, and I know he will finish what he has started in me.  Be of good cheer, He has overcome the world.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 ESV

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Psalm Of The Branch

He said-

 “I am the true vine,

and my Father is the vinedresser”.

She Said-

Hear my cry to understand the dressing of the vine.

The Son who through obedience learned-

“Your will Father, never mine!”

He said-

” Every branch in me

that does not bear fruit

he takes away, and every branch

that does bear fruit he prunes,

that it may bear more fruit. ” 

She Said-

Hear the heart that yearns toward fruit

Teach me the way to drink from the root.

I am the branch, you are the vine

I am the cup  you are the wine.

He said-

 “Abide in me, and I in you.

As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself,

unless it abides in the vine,

neither can you,

unless you abide in me.”

She Said-

Hold me fast to your flaming heart

Bind me close, that I depart

never from your living side

Always, ever to abide.

 

-Christina Dammerman (c) 2014

*John 15:1-4 ESV

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For The Sake Of A Kiss

With the fragrance of oil still in the air, clinging to his beard, perhaps even upon his garments-

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.  And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him. Mark 14:10-11

I come to this passage of scripture with more questions than I have answers.  I am wrestling inside with what feels all too familiar and yet remains slippery and evasive.  I am afraid there is  Judas in me. A clanging of silver desire to build my own empire, my way.  A purse swollen with too much of my own understanding of how the Kingdom of God is to come, now-in me.  I gaze at the ledger of my words and wonder at the zealous pronouncements coming from a heart that is far too distant from the all consuming flame.

Pro 26:23 Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart.

That is, ardent professions of friendship from a wicked heart, however smooth, shining, and splendid they may appear, are like a vile vessel covered over with base metal. -Vines Word Study

Even so, regardless of,  Jesus called Judas Friend

  And he came up to Jesus at once and said,

“Greetings, Rabbi!”

And he kissed him.
  Jesus said to him,

“Friend, do what you came to do.”

Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. Mathew 26:49-50

Before he started his ministry Jesus went up to a lonely place and prayed all night for those that the Father would give him, all of them, even Judas.  Our Rabbi doesn’t ask us to do what he hasn’t done:  Pray for your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to  the ones who will use you spitefully.  I reflect upon my own gathering of leaders and ache with the realization that  far too often I have assembled teams based on personality profiles, and gift mixes rather than the direct counsel of the Spirit of God gleaned from an all night prayer meeting.

Would I choose a betrayer knowing it would further the plans and destiny of God in my life?  Even if I could choose that one, would I love them?  Would I give everything I had in me to them?  Would I pour out my life an offering for them?  Would I wash their feet? Do I trust God’s work in my life, as HIS LIFE, to surround me with the people of His choosing and leave the working of the relationship in His hands to mold, and do with as He please?

The answer echoes clear and final.  No.  I fear being betrayed.   I guard against it.  I have made it a point of counsel in my leading of others, preaching the necessity of : “guarding their hearts”.  I find upon examination, that I have stayed on the fringe of community where it is safer and easier to remain unscathed. Yet, when I examine the life of the one I say I follow, this rule of ministry, and principle of effective leadership isn’t there.

He didn’t withhold affection, correction, counsel, anointing or presence. There is no evidence that he treated Judas any different than the others.  He gave Judas the gift of Himself as much as any of the number who surrounded him desired to receive.  It seems to be Judas’s choice of proximity in the fellowship of the twelve.  Even as it is my choice how close do I want to be?  On the fringe, coming in late because I am busy building my empire?  Or leaning upon His breast asking Him to examine my heart for signs of unfaithfulness…”Is it me, Lord?”

It is fascinating to me that only after the betrayer is identified as one who shared His bread, and told to accomplish what is in his heart quickly, that Jesus gives the terms of the New Covenant to the rest of the community:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

I am His, IF I love. Love even those that bite and wound and maim and in spite of them . I feel His gaze upon me as I sit with the eleven. My eyes staring at the place Judas occupied at the table.

Do you love me? Then love them, as I have loved you.  As I have shown you how to give yourself without reservation even to those who hate you.  Your life is not your own.  It is mine. I paid for it.  I give my life a ransom for many.  YOU, give your life even to those who hate you for my name sake.  In the end, the love of many will wax cold, and they will betray and deliver one another up to be killed…but you….YOU love. Keep on loving, to the end. Follow me and die to yourself. Die to your rights, your justifications, your protective strategies that keep you from getting hurt. Leave them. Abandon them, they will only hurt your relationship with me in the end. Stay close to the flame and learn to burn with truth in the inner most part of your being.  Truth that I have loved you, as the Father has loved me.

 

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Alabaster Life

Preaching without spiritual aroma is like a rose without fragrance.  We can only get the perfume by getting more of Christ. –A.B.Simpson

 

The devotional today is centered around a moment of pure worship, as Mary breaks the alabaster jar of her inheritance, and “wastes” it in one movement of extravagant, lavish affection. For this great act she is not lauded by the populace, she is despised and ridiculed.  All opinions in regards to her actions seem to be in agreement, except for one. The only One who really matters.

Jesus, the great Rabbi and benefactor of her affection demands she be left alone, and declares something truly radical- that the fullness of the gospel is not proclaimed unless her story is told right along with the Good News of Chris’ts birth, life, crucifixion,  burial, and resurrection.  Yet, how often have you heard her story?  Really heard her story?

Mar 14:6-9 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” ESV

I have wondered at the house of Bethany, the place where Jesus could be “himself”.  The place he frequented more than any other, the place of his friends.  Bethany means date house, or house of figs.  This rings of the symbolism of the nation of Israel which is often called a fig tree.  Perhaps here, he envisioned the true Israel.  A house of welcome for the Messiah, a place of friendship and easy graces. Laughter and study, and food.  True food.

The nation was turning it’s back upon him. Would declare him accursed and deliver him up in a short while, but here, here he was among friends and in that place a woman believed what the others had refused to hear.  He is going to die.  They are going to kill him. In that revelation, she longed to show kindness to him while he was still in her midst, and to give him everything she had, everything she could.  Her love as perfume filled the house where they were sitting and everyone was marked by the fragrance of her devotion, and the declaration of his death-and it made them mad!

Grumblings were heard, eyes were rolled, costs were tallied, some perhaps covered their nose to get away from the smell.  Judas felt his pockets tingle with the loss of such revenue, and they did what most do when they are uncomfortable with someones “over the top devotion”, they accuse her motives.

“Look at how selfish she was, that could have fed a whole village of lepers for a month! Such a shameful waste, such a loss!  Look at it there on the ground…they will never get the smell out of this house!”

Perhaps, that is what she wanted.  To never have the smell leave.  To step into the room and instantly remember where he sat, how he smiled, the words he spoke.  Smell is the greatest trigger of memory, and this moment would forever remind her of her love. It would remind him as well.

I can imagine the beautiful Son of God closing his eyes as the fragrance slowly rolled down his hair, the sides of his beard, onto his shoulders, to his hands, his feet.  Drenching his robe.  Was he in that moment remembering the fragrance of Heaven?  Did he feel the love of his Father in her actions, remember the glory he laid aside, and would take up again?  Did his heart fill with joy at the recognition of this little Eve, this little girl in the garden with her eyes open to the Tree of Life, choosing him, choosing love, choosing to worship in spirit and truth. Doing what she could with what she had?  Did he remember his words to the serpent, and his promise to the woman and know that at this moment enmity was at work, and the battle was raging towards the cross?

Leonard Sweet in his book:  Jesus:  A Theography, mentions this story and makes the statement that Jesus came into this world smelling stable dung and straw but left it smelling perfume.  The fragrance of that oil would have stayed with him through the long night in the garden, through the beating, the crown of thorns, the lashes, the crucifixion.  The aroma of love would still be on him, mingling with his sweat, his tears and his blood.

The question was asked:  “When have you allowed your love and devotion to Jesus to let you do things that other people wouldn’t understand, and might ridicule?  All for the love of Jesus?!”

I close my eyes and remember the fragrance of my devotion, the times when I have abandoned my heart to Him this way.  Intimate times when I have poured out my tears, and my words in longing love.  Delightful moments when I have whirled with childlike abandon in meadows of camas, and weak, humble times when I have lain prostrate before Him.

I remember the sweetness of just wanting to sit at His feet, know the tenderness of His love, hear Him speak to my heart in familiar tones, to just say my name and say his back to Him.  I have been ridiculed, and pushed away, corrected, and chastised for the way my heart is at times lavish in its expression.  It is this story that reminds me of my inheritance.  It will not be taken from me.  He receives my love even if others question my motive.  I remind myself when I find the stiff gazes of the cold religious fixed upon my face, that He is my audience of One.  I live for Him alone, unto Him alone.

My prayer oh Lord is that you break me open and pour me out. That, the devotion of my life would be lavished upon you as oil.  That you would remember me as the joy set before you as you delight in the fragrance of my worship.  Draw me, and let us run together!  Help me tell your story from the place of the fellowship of our hearts.  Make me a Bethany of your presence and may our love burn at the hearth a never ending flame that even death can not quench.

martha-mary-jesus

Blind Sight

I used to be very afraid of the dark. Leaping from the bedroom doorway to my bed, sure there were monsters waiting to grab my ankles from under the darkness.  As I grew older it became a point of pride and a sign of strength to be the one of my friends in our night time capture the can game to venture into the dark, and defend the mound alone. Deep down, I was still terrified, and would tremble at the sounds and imagine all kinds of evil waiting to pounce upon me.  I was never comfortable with the night, until I realized during one of my readings at youth group, that God clothes himself in darkness, and Moses braved the dark, to see the glory of God.  I wanted to desperately see God as a teenager, and so I staged my own version of the Cherokee Indian Rite of Passage hoping that God would meet me in the way he had met Moses on Sinai.

In the legend, the young Cherokee boy is taken outside the camp, blind folded and led deep into the woods where he is placed upon a stump to sit all night. He is not to cry out, or to move but is to brave the sounds and creatures of the night. In the morning when the rays of dawn break through the darkness, if he has bravely stayed his watch without fear or crying out for help, he is considered a man.  When the blind fold is taken off, he is astonished to see his father was seated on the stump next to him, keeping watch over his son all night, and protecting him from harm.

After reading this story, I decided to brave the night, and test my Heavenly Father’s care for me, with a few modifications.  I only made it to the back side of the pasture, and vowed to keep my eyes closed instead of using a blindfold.  I had waited until the house was very quiet, crept downstairs and out the back door.  There was no moon that night, and the stars offered little guidance as  I made it to the secret spot and sat in the darkness trying to hear something other than my pounding heart.  Once my heart stopped racing I was fascinated by the various sounds and rhythms the night offered.  It had it’s own song and cadence.  I was amazed at what could be heard in the night. Pictures of sounds became vivid in my mind, and a landscape that was so different from what my eyes had memorized during the day emerged.  I was delighted to discover I could make out familiar movements of the livestock, could gauge distance from the way their hooves moved in the dirt, and even the munching of grass hoppers on the timothy stalks next to me was discernible.  I had discovered a new world and it was strangely comforting.  They say that when we lose one of our primary senses, the others senses become heightened.  That night I found I could “see” with my ears.

My thoughts turn to our devotional reading from Mark 10 and the familiar story of blind Bartimaeus.  Is that how he had survived all these years?  He had learned to listen to footsteps, and discern hearts by the way they walked?  Whether the sandal-ed  feet  brought charity or a swift kick to the side?  Which feet to lean towards, which ones to shy from.  We find Jesus thronged with a crowd as he makes his way to the road outside the city, there must have been something about the movement of the feet that caused Baritmaeus to beg answers rather than coins. Who is approaching?  Why the commotion?  What is happening?

And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.  And many rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried out the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.  Mark 10:47-48 AS Version

Bartimaeus had likely heard many stories from those who passed his begging spot on the road from Jericho.  How this Nazarene was unlike any man anyone had ever seen. He may have even wondered, “can anything good come from Nazareth?” That is not the city of the prophets, or the great ones. Yet the stories must have come jingling like alms to his heart. A deaf mute cured, a paralytic healed, lepers cleansed and a man blind from birth now sees!  Rumors of the Messiah must have swirled around him awakening hope that He would come to his town.

Something must have taken hold in his heart from the tales of the wayfarers  because Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus with the phrase reserved for the Messiah:  “Son of David” and pulls on the covenant promise of mercy…”have mercy on me!”  He will not be silenced, until the Son of God stands still and asks the dangerous question:  What do you want?  In that moment Bartimaeus’s faith through hearing brings him sight.  ” My Master, that I might see”

Isa 42:6-7  I, Jehovah, have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;  to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.

In one moment, Bartimaeus went from the prison of darkness, into the glorious light of Messiah’s love and fellowship.  His mantel of his old life left lying on the ground, we find him accompanying Messiah on the road.  He became a disciple of the Way, a joyful testament to the glory of God breaking in to the darkness of sin and despair. Though he was blind in the natural, he could see the reality of the mission of Christ with his spirit, and he believed! Nothing would silence his cry for mercy.  No matter how many times we was told to shut up, and pushed aside he knew the wretched state of his existence and the Messiah was his only hope. His desperation moves me to consider my own blindness.

How badly do I desire mercy?  How blind am I to the reality of the condition of my heart?  Do I know that I am but a beggar on the side of the road, without the eyes of my understanding being enlightened, that I might see the hope of  the one who calls me to come to Him. ( Ephesian 1:18).  Lord, I ask with the cry of Bartimaeus, have mercy on me…Master, open my eyes, that I may see.

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