First and second reading

Gossamer wisps

Tuesday, 6:14 AM, reading Mark: “His eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”

This morning, that’s what happened to me, too. (OK, maybe not everything is clear. And maybe it’s been taking place over more than just this morning.)

But those scriptural words hooked my bleary attention, somehow reaching me through my foggy brain. (Oy. It was early.)

The line seems redundant: Yes, he sees now, we get it. But actually, just prior, this man was  in state of seeing people dimly, as “trees walking around.” And just before that he was fully blind.

His sight gets progressively better.

A few verses later Peter tries to intercede in the future suffering Jesus predicts for himself. But Jesus rebukes his disciple, and he isn’t delicate about it. “Get behind me, Satan!” isn’t a correction you’d expect even from a mean teacher. Jesus further chastises him for focusing on mere human issues rather than those of God (v.33).

Good grief. In the past I would have taken this story as a command not to value anything of my own mundane life in comparison to lofty goals for the glory of God. (Exactly what those noble goals would be, I’m not sure. But they would be glorious.)

I would have felt condemned for feeling attached to any of my earthly concerns instead of self-sacrifice in the name of God. (Esh, I hope I didn’t scare anyone there. Just telling it like it was.)

But now I think Jesus was issuing a specific, in-context warning. Peter had just declared Jesus is Christ. The Messiah! Peter’s sure of that much (v. 29), yet he’s still blind to the ultimate mission that Jesus is on.

“Can’t you see?”  Jesus is asking. “I have to do this, go through this coming ordeal — and you have to let me, if you know who I am. What else am I here for? Don’t even think to hinder me in this!”

And with that ultimate mission now complete, our earthly life’s concerns are mercifully (fused and) infused with the Spirit.

The blind man sees progressively more clearly. I see progressively more clearly.

(Verse note: Mark 8:22-33)

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Confidence in what we hope for

Monday, 10:22 PM, indulgently stroking the dog’s velvet ears. The benched dog, whose time on the DL is approaching the third week, with at least another to go. Who sports the “cone” with resignation and whose pitiful malaise reaches my heart. I stoop to pet him and, giving in to sympathy, hunker down further for ear-scratching and head rubbing (still in the cone), putting off the dozen chores left to do before bed. For the next minute, at least, he’s happy again, smiling through his “jowly folds,” as we call them, eyes closed in bliss. I wistfully wish I could instantly cure his condition – a cocktail of minor yet majorly inconvenient ills and injuries.

It occurs to me, in the quiet moment, that when you comfort an unhappy animal, or a child at bedtime, it’s not as much the hand-holding or the petting itself, that they long for you to stay and keep giving. The physical contact, however pleasant or familiar it is, only lasts for exactly as long as it’s delivered. They (we all) long for true comfort, lasting comfort. The kind that leaves your spirit relieved that all really isn’t as scary or sad as it seemed a few minutes ago, and in fact there is behind the curtain of fear or frustration, a glorious confident assurance that not only will it be Okay, it already is Okay. And will be Okay, too. And the confidence is what stays after the petting and hand-holding stops. And the confidence is your faith, grown when it’s given – and when it’s received.

(Verse note Heb 11:1)