It was as I was driving back from a trip to the store for a few baby items that I saw her sitting on a bench holding out her cardboard sign. She was bundled in a coat and scarf, with bare hands holding the words “Anything Helps.” The temperature was chilly, but not terribly cold. I found it a bit odd as the only people I had seen there before were waiting for the bus.
I looked at her, really looked and got all knotted up inside as I recalled that I did not have any food packs in my car. I had recently finished making up the latest batch, but they were sitting inside the front room at my home. A year or two ago, I would have run home and circled back, but life with an infant makes it a bit harder to do that. Instead, I offered her a smile, lifted up a prayer, and when I got home I moved the packs to just inside the front door so I would see them next time I left the house.
I think of this as I listen to the story of Bartimaeus again.
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”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.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and 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.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Bartimaeus calls out and will not be quieted. In the face of opposition he is persistent. And Jesus stops.
In her book, Come Along, Jane Rubietta writes of this moment:
“He throws away his cloak. If you were blind, you would never do this, because if you let go of your cloak, you lose your primary possession, the one thing that keeps you warm on a cold night, cushions your seat, pillows your head, perhaps even collects the fruit of your beggings.No hesitation: he scrambles to his feet with the nimbleness born of desperation and hope. He is not begging for crumbs or coins. He is asking for what only one person can give him. The man who just walked down the road.Bartimaeus moves carefully to where Jesus’s voice sounded and halts in front of him.“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks.What a world-opening, eye-opening question.Bartimaeus sucks in a huge breath. This is it. It’s all or nothing. And he leaps into that chasm called faith: “Rabbi, I want to see.”There it is, out in the open, for everyone else to see too. What gall! What temerity! What gumption for this beggar, this street person, to call out to the very Messiah, the miracle worker who walked the streets and talked with anyone, so different from a regular king or other royalty. To ask for a miracle, to ask to see.” (p.49-50, 2008, used with permission)
|Download the template for my food pack cards here.|
I think of the woman on the bench again, with her desire right out there on a cardboard sign for all to see.
Relationship. Money. Work. Home. Health. Education. Love. Jesus.
In baring her heart, is she being brave? Manipulative? Honest?
Is it desperation that brings her here to this place?
Could it be that she, too, wants a miracle? I wonder.
Could it be that she is calling out in the only way she knows how in this busy world?
I wonder at her poverty and think of Jesus’ words.
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20
I wonder about Jesus’ words.
I wonder about my own poverty. Where am I poor in spirit?
What would my cardboard sign say on it today?
What would my cardboard sign say on it today?
Could it be this woman with the sign is more in touch with her own poverty than I am right now?
She knows what she wants.
Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Am I desperate enough to reveal the desire of my heart for all to see and bring it to the Messiah? Do I even know what it is?
Blessing waits on the other side of this revelation. Healing waits. Do I want it?
Will I receive what Jesus gives?
If I do, might it be that he will open my eyes to the signs written by hand on cardboard and others written on the hearts of the people I encounter each day.
Do I want to bless others?
Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, all who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:12-14 TNIV
Perhaps the woman with the sign is waiting for the blessing that will come as I identify my own poverty, receive the miracle of the heart, and allow the Spirit to work in me.
I consider this and bring to Jesus a longing to be fully present in the moment.
I receive and along with Bartimaeus, I follow Jesus down the road.
Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we bring our desires to Jesus. May we receive the miracle and find that in our poverty, He gives us the kingdom of God. May we live changed--following Jesus, allowing His Spirit to work in us, making us a blessing to everyone we meet.
P.S. Enjoy a free download of the insert that I created for food packs here. You can print them on cardstock, color them (or let your kids color them) and cut them down to size or be a little more creative than that as time allows. The food packs are put together in a quart size bag include a fruit cup, a can of Vienna sausages, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, a mint, a utensil pack, and a card. We keep bottles of water on hand to go with them.