There were a lot of things that had to be “just so” in my son Jake’s life when he was a toddler. Unfortunately he was a late talker, so he wasn’t usually able to tell me what they were. He simply threw himself on the floor and wailed. I had to figure it out by trial and error—and sometimes I never did!
I remember standing in front of him (more than once), yelling, “What Do You Want Me To Do?”
He couldn’t tell me. Sometimes I’m not sure he knew. Things Just Weren’t Right.
Bartimaeus squatted by the side of the dusty road, one hand outstretched. He waggled his fingers when he heard people pass and sometimes felt the weight of a coin dropped into his palm, mostly light ones but every once in a while a heavier piece. One evening, as he sat, his body aching from the hard ground, his arm tired, people gathered around him, jostled him. A parade? Some government official passing by?
“Jesus,” someone told him. “The Teacher. Surely you’ve heard of him.”
Bartimaeus had. Word of Jesus had spread among the beggars in the city. They shared tales of lame men whose legs had suddenly grown strong, lepers whose skin had become smooth, and blind men who’d had their sight restored. Jesus had been part of every story, right in the middle of it. What had Isaiah said the Messiah would do? Proclaim good news to the poor, freedom to the prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind.
“Jesus!” It was too crowded for him to stand, but Bartimaus could yell. “Jesus!”
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Shush,” those around him said. A few people stepped in front of him. He was smothered by the crowd.
But Bartimaeus yelled louder.
“Son of David, have mercy on me! Have mercy on me!” Someone slapped his head, but Bartimaeus shoved the hand away. “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Suddenly the people around him stilled. He felt those in front of him move to the sides.
“Call him over.”
Who was that? Who said that?
Voices close to him said, “He’s talking to you! He wants to see you! Get up! Get over there.”
Bartimaeus shoved his cloak off his shoulders and jumped to his feet. Someone gave him a push in the right direction. He stumbled forward.
He stopped. He knew he was close. He could sense the man in front of him. Bartimaeus began trembling. “Son of David,” he whispered, “have mercy on me.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” said the voice.
What do you want me to do for you?
Jesus, his King, was asking him, a blind beggar, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Rabbi, I want to see.”
“Go your way,” Jesus told him. “Your faith has healed you.”
But the first thing Bartimaeus saw was Jesus, the Son of David, his King.
And his way was no longer his own.
His way was following Jesus.
Like Bartimaeus, I cry out, “Lord, have mercy!” Sometimes it is loud and articulate; sometimes little more than a whisper. Sometimes, like my then-toddler son, it is no more than a wail, a sob, a plea. And as he did with Bartimaeus, Jesus, the Son of David, King of the universe, my Lord, asks me, “What do you want me to do for you?” He never says it in frustration, and he doesn’t ask because he doesn’t know. He does know. He knows what I want—what I need!—more than anyone else. He knows it far better than I know it myself.
What do you want me to do for you?
I want to see you, Jesus. I want to see you.
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