So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
This fellow Bartimaeus is on a mission, like so many of those the scriptures tell us about who came to Jesus for healing. He yelled out and continued yelling out to get Jesus’ attention, even though the people around him tried to get him to shut up. He would not give up and be quiet. His persistence paid off. Jesus called him to come to him, and he threw off his cloak and followed the sound of Jesus’ voice. When Jesus asked what he wanted him to do for him, without wavering or stuttering Bartimaeus said he wanted to see again. With that request, Jesus told him he could go on his way because his faith had made him well. He was free of his blindness, free to become who God had created him to be, and he followed Jesus.
God planted a call of freedom in me as a small child. I felt that God was calling me to be a pastor at a very young age. But a conversation about that, at age ten with my mother convinced me that was not possible, and she was right at that time. In 1960 when I finished college it was not possible for a female to become a pastor. I thought perhaps that I had misunderstood God’s earlier call to freedom and I prepared to teach, but I could not give up on seeking God’s direction for my life.
It was not until I was in my late forties, that God’s call to freedom became really strong again. And, by the early eighties it was possible for women to enter into pastoral ministry. I approached it slowly, because I did not want to be told no again by the world. It took me about three years of discernment, where I dealt with the chains of my memories and attitudes that kept me from answering that call, before I came running like Bartimaeus to Jesus. But when I did the freedom of being who God had prepared me to become occurred. The chains of my memories of the past had to be broken before I could move into the freedom of love and service to which God was calling me. Like Bartimaeus, I learned that no memory of the past, no memory of sin, no past blindness or chains of the culture, can keep you tied down when Jesus calls you and you follow. The future is open and you are free regardless of what others may think or tell you.
We are free. Free to risk, free to care and try and struggle and laugh and serve. We are free to love, as God loves us.
I know from my own experience that it can be really hard to believe if you are told throughout your life that you are in one mold and that God would not reshape you for another mold if society did not approve of it. Things like illness, sin, hurt, and disappointment may be true for all of us, but they do not define us. God is the one who can define who we can become if we will give ourselves totally over to God’s will and desire for us. Nothing we have done or nothing that has been done to us captures who we are completely. As children of God we are chosen to be holy and precious in God’s sight, and that is what defines us. God’s love, forgiveness and creativity in us sets us free to become what God hopes for us to be and do.
- Are you free to be who God has chosen you to be?
- Are there things that you have allowed to bind you and keep you from being free as a chosen child of God?
- Will you, like Bartimaeus, defy all the voices that try to keep you from becoming who God calls you to be?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.