Lest We Settle for Too Little

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to Jesus a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. – Mark 8:22-30

dlb-phoenix-desert-botanical-garden-04792

New growth springs to live atop a cactus in the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ. January 2017

C.S. Lewis offers this powerful analogy:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Not long ago I spoke with a man who was struggling with an addiction to alcohol. He rued his inability to tame the monster, and castigated himself because he would go to an AA meeting and hit the bar on the way home. Perhaps – in a profoundly mysterious way – he was too easily satisfied; too easily pleased. Maybe you can identify with that in a different area: Money, sex, gossip, fame, prestige, promotion: all these can offer a degree of satisfaction that is really only transitory. We can never get enough. Someone always has more. And we settle for running after these fleeting things as though they would satisfy us. They never will.

When Jesus heals the blind man, he does so in installments. At first, sequestering him, then spitting in his eyes, and finally placing his hands on him, only to bring about a partial healing. The blind man is honest enough not to be satisfied with seeing people who looked like trees. So comes installment two: Hands on the man’s eyes again. This time he is able to see clearly.

Not only does Jesus do this in installments, he asks the man about his sight. Jesus wants the man to experience the fullness of his healing touch. The man is willing to ask for all that Jesus can give – or at least not fake it as though he’s healed when he is really not.

I spoke to a man once who faked speaking in tongues because he was in a church that required that as testimony of true conversion. He was elated to be out from under that burden. Perhaps you believe you must put on a happy face in order to gain access into the fellowship of God’s people. We each have our masks: those things we use to look the part, to fake it until you make it.

Just as Jesus is not willing to let the blind man live in a limbo of half-healing, he calls us to ask ourselves: Am I settling for too little? Am I seeking the rule and reign of Jesus or a cheap imitation of it? Do I realize that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who has redeemed me from sin, death and the devil? Will I look beyond the immediate outward trappings of success, happiness, and piety for a deep and true relationship with the living God? Will I sit and make mud pies in the slums or accept Jesus’ offer of a holiday at the sea?

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