Monthly Archives: January 2012

A guest post part I

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When I look back over the most stressful times of my life, I always see him there.  He is one that we sought to minister to, and yet he has ministered to us in a thousand ways.  When Justin had to be rushed to the hospital, I see his face, at my house taking care of my children.  The two moments my house has looked like it could contend for an episode of hoarders, Jeremy was there, taking care of the boys, and cleaning.  I was lonely and scared in a hospital room next to my deathly ill husband, and he came just to sit with me.  That surgery that was so very scary, we weren’t sure at all what the outcome would be, he was there.  When Lydia’s shunt came through her eye and we had to rush her to emergency surgery, he was there.  He and the sweet girl that has stolen his heart started off as college kids in our Sunday school class, but they have become some of our dearest friends.  I could think of no one better to do a series of posts on Bartimeaus than my friend, Jeremy.

Bartimaeus, Part 1

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Cursed.

Whether by the misdeeds of his parents or by some infantile sin of his own, the despite of Yahweh rested upon the beggar’s life. His very presence in the city gates of Jericho was a daily reminder to every passerby of God’s relentless displeasure with sin. So that others would not stray, Elohim had created Bartimaeus blind.

Or so he had always been told.

The son of Thimaeus was under the wrath of God, the rabbis said, and was therefore undeserving of their pity, much less the simple dignity afforded to any bearer of the imago dei. In the view of the sighted, Bartimaeus was the curse of Eden made flesh – a filthy, sightless corpse living out his cosmic death sentence in view of the world.

Because of this false perception, a passer-by was more likely to leave spittle in the beggar’s sightless eye than a farthing in his rusted coffer. Both practically and theologically, no employer would ever see fit to furnish him with a job. After all, what task could he do that a sighted man could not do better? And even if a kind-hearted soul would be so moved with compassion as to help the beggar at the gates, why would he risk bringing the curse of God upon himself, his family, and his livelihood? It was better to ignore Bartimaeus, and in so doing, reap the favor of God by abusing the one He seemed to despise.

Bartimaeus had been made to understand the uncleanness of his spiritual estate, but because his eyes had been dimmed since birth, he possessed no inclination that he was so visibly repulsive to all who looked upon him. His hunger he understood, but satisfaction was a concept that he could not even begin to comprehend. Abject humiliation he knew, but not compassion or friendship. To be certain, Bartimaeus realized the wretchedness of his existence, but with nothing good with which to compare it, his devastating handicap had left him broken and destroyed, filled with an unarticulated longing for the most basic human needs.

And so it was, into the never-ending midnight of a desperate man, Jesus came. Without human invitation, the Nazarene marched steadfastly toward Golgotha, and His journey took him through the streets of Jericho. But on the way to His destiny, there was one final stop to be made. This stop would serve a grand purpose – not only in the life of the beggar whose life He would change forever, but on the cosmic scale of God’s eternal glory. So that the world might know who Jesus was, His Father would orchestrate an encounter with a man born blind…

www.crippledsteps.wordpress.com

 

One child

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“And of some have compassion, making a difference”  Jude 22

I stare at the picture I have been sent, his one eye stares back at me.  I agree to the sender that I will pray for this little one, whose 2nd birthday is still a good ways off.  What I did not realize is how this nameless child would haunt me.  The part of his story that I hold is small, but it has shattered my heart.  He was given up by his mother because of his condition.  She was overwhelmed.  She was afraid.  Fear is a tormentor to the worst degree.  It must have broken her heart in ways I cannot imagine, and now a child goes to bed each night without a mother’s love, robbed of the affection of the person that should matter the most at this current phase of his babyhood.  Fear robs us of beauty.

I wonder who tucks him in at night.  Do his caregivers have time to love him?  Does someone hold him in their arms and comfort him when he cries?  When he is hungry for more, is he given extra?  Does someone read him stories?  Does he know how special he is?

I know his condition.  I have met children in the waiting room with Lydia with the same thing.  Without any medical knowledge of my own, from what I can understand, it is far easier to treat than even glaucoma.  Oh, if that sweet woman would only have known!  If that baby could have stayed with her…  If brokeness could have been spared.  If…

And so, each day I open his picture.  I pray HIS Words over this child that is half a world away.  I stare into the nameless face, and I pray to the One that has every hair on his head numbered.  I pray to the One that neither slumbers nor sleeps, I pray that He will write His Name on his heart.  He is a Father to the Fatherless, and I pray He would watch over this little one for always.

There are so many others whose pictures I do not hold, but I know they exist.  They are the ones the Bartimeaus Project has been formed for.  I pray for them as well.  They are lonely.  They have suffered loss.  I pray that God would show us how to help them, how to show them Him.  Show us how to introduce them to the One that longs to be their Father.  That He would give us His heart, and show us how to make a difference.  Because, there are no orphans of God.

The Secret Place

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“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”  Ps. 91:1

It was a sunny day as we drove down the road approaching my favorite place in the whole world.  “There it is!  Do you see it, Emily?  It’s our secret place!”  My Grandmother cried.  It was a magnificent structure. To any passer by, it was simply a cement bridge sheltered in barbed wire, expanding the highway, but to me it was an endless source of daydreams and delight.  To a little girl of 5, this place was pure magic.  I had only to pass by and the mere vision would conjure up all kinds of excitement to my childhood mind.  This place was a castle, and I was queen.  My grandmother the benevolent fairy godmother that bestowed me with such an enchanted gift.  When time alloted, my ever patient Grandfather, would pull over and allow us to walk across the secret place.  It was never long enough nor often enough for my young self, but in the times of absence, I would dream of it, and all of the adventures waiting to be had.

Grown up realities have long since replaced childhood dreams, but now, He calls to me, beckoning me to enter into His secret place.  Not just to enter, but to DWELL in this place.  Simple adoration of this humble King, is my entrance ticket, and once here, His love bids me stay.  I am transformed, washed white by the Lamb.  His sacrifice, has enabled me to discover His secret place.  I am sheltered here under a mighty fortress of a shadow, it is He.  He desires me to abide, not for mere moments, but a lifetime, treasured and adored.  I am an orphan made daughter, and He is the One Who would have me call Him Father.

It is our place, He and I, yet He offers it to all who call.  It is a shelter from the whispering fears and anxieties that would take aim upon my heart.  Those old enemies that long have enslaved me, and would call me their own, have no power here.  As long as I would desire, I am free to stay.  He shelters me.  He protects me.  He gives me rest.  I love this place, but oh, how I love this King.  This King that would call me daughter.  This King that would give His very life to ransom me.

Next week, we will be having to prep Lydia once again to go under anesethia.  Tonight, I am struggling with that worry.  It threatens to overtake me, drowning me in it’s current.  Underneath it all, there is a still, small voice, that I recognize.  He is calling me, begging me to come to the secret place.  Offering me to dwell with Him.  It is an offer I cannot refuse, and so I enter in.  My praise for Him, replaces my fears.  His love floods my heart, leaving room for nothing else.

The Bartimeaus Project

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It was summer time in Michigan, one of my favorite times of the year.  I was working as a camp counselor, one of my favorite jobs ever.  I met him that summer, the child that would change so much of my life.  He was one of my campers.  He was beautiful, and he was blind.  I loved him immediately.  To date, I don’t know if I have ever loved another child, aside from my own children, like I loved that little boy.

I had never worked with blind children before, but I had an innate ability to be able to anticipate his needs and desires.  I took great pleasure in describing in the most vivid adjectives what the day looked like.  When he asked about what a particular tree looked like, I ‘showed’ him the tree, taking his hands and running it all over the bark, circling his arms to feel how large it  was, and using his feet, to feel where the base was.  I instinctively knew to count steps, stairs, and paces for him.  By the end of the summer, we were so bonded I could anticipate his every move.

I could not have known it then, but God was writing pieces of my story.  This small boy was the instrument, and my heart was His tablet.  Beautiful and deep, He was carving into me,  lovingly preparing me for what was yet to come.  I felt Him in those days, and I briefly yet seriously contemplated changing my major in college to specify vision impairments, but that would mean going to another college altogether as mine didn’t offer such a specialization, and I was madly in love with my now husband, so transferring was out of the question.  For years, the thoughts of how much I enjoyed that work lingered in my mind, and I wondered if perhaps someday I might be able to work with blind children again.

The years came and went, three beautiful boys were born.  Our lives were complete.  But HE wasn’t done writing.  We were delighted to discover that we were not complete after all, our number would grow once more.  She was born.  She took our breath away with how much we loved her.  She was diagnosed with glaucoma.  I knew from my research it is the second leading cause of blindness.  I remembered the little boy I had loved working with so many years ago.  Please, dear God, don’t let it have been to prepare me for her!  I wept.  I begged.  I bargained.  And then, I prayed.  Justin and I, tears streaming, prayed surrendering, life changing prayers.  We prayed prayers that begged Him to keep writing this story, begged Him to not let it end with us.

And He kept writing.  He knew.  This was not the end.  This was the beginning.  The beginning of a new chapter for us.  A beautiful chapter, entered into through pain, but somehow the pain makes it that much more beautiful.  He is so good like that.  A vision grew.  A vision to help other little ones, like the one that is so dear to us.  There are so many needs that are unmet by our world.  Needs like, grants to help them get educational materials, a grief share program for the mommies and daddies that have lost so many beautiful dreams for their littles, and most of all, reminding them of the Savior who promises someday EVERY EYE will SEE Him just as He is.  Beautiful promises, encouragement to hurting hearts, and we were in the unique position to understand.

There are other needs too, that He has pressed upon us.  Needs from those that do not have anyone to call Mommy and Daddy.  They are in countries that do not have access to the resources we have.  They need to know that they are loved.  They need to know that they can bring value, and their community needs to recognize their value as well.  He has whispered, and we have heard.  We cannot meet these needs, but He can.  Oh to be a tool in His hands!  That is all, just to be a tool.

And so, The Bartimeaus Project is being birthed.  A non-profit project to attempt to meet these needs, but mostly just a tool to direct them to the One that can meet them all.  Pray for us friends, as we embark on this journey!

Glimpses

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…”Behold, I make all things new…” Rev. 21:5

He makes all things new.  All things.  This is a promise for tomorrow, but sometimes, we get glimpses of that beauty in today.  It is like the sunset, brilliant, and bold and full of color so real, but only for a moment, until it slips away.  Today, we had such a good report on Lydia.  I am revelling in this sunset.  Like the sunset, it too may slip away, but right now, it’s beauty astounds me.  I stand in awe of this God Who makes all things new.

Today is my glimpse of promises for someday.  Someday there will be no more glaucoma.  There will be no more heartache.  Loved ones will be reunited.  Babies lost before they were ever held, will fill their mommy’s arms.  The blind shall see, the deaf shall hear.  It’s magnitude is more than I can comprehend.  I long for it.  But today, I am revelling in this glimpse of that day.  This happiness, this burden momentarily gone, and we lift our hands in gratitude.  This moment is a glimpse.  I am captivated by it’s beauty.  No matter how long it lasts, I trust the God Who makes all things new.