Take Heart He’s Calling You
This article was published in the Life and Work magazines October edition by Albert Bogle
When I read the Gospels I’m aware that the narratives that highlight the healing of a blind person often have a dual meaning. The more you read the more you realise Jesus comes to give spiritual sight to women and men. It is this spiritual sight that is the more important because it changes a person’s perspective in life. Jesus often talked about having eyes and seeing, or not seeing things as they are, or will be.
I think it is interesting to look at the story of the healing of Bartimaeus and see how it might be used as a parable for us in the church today. Many of us have been spiritually blind for a long time. But since lockdown we long to have our spiritual sight restored. We long to see things as God sees them and that we might have the faith to believe we can see the church we love, renewed in our time.
Bartimaeus wasn’t always blind. Something had happened in his life that had robbed him of his sight. But something now was stirring within him as he makes his prayer to Jesus to have mercy on him.
If we agree the church is not simply made up of the gathered congregation on a Sunday but includes those who are unable to attend because of so many different reasons — including their mistakes or the mistakes of others — we begin to realise that our ministry goes far beyond the circle of committed people attending on a Sunday. There is a vast diaspora of people like Bartimaeus looking to have their spiritual sight restored.
As congregations begin to make preparations to return to Sunday worship we need to be aware that something has changed. Many are longing for something more. It’s as though an awareness of our spiritual blindness has brought about a longing for a new set of eyes to see the way forward. In order to understand the new spiritual direction that has to take place in the life of many of our congregations.
During lockdown the internet has uncovered the prayers of many seeking healing and renewal. The thing we all need to take hold of in the story of Bartimaeus is Jesus answers his prayer.
I love the way the story is related in Mark’s Gospel. The word that Jesus is willing to respond to his prayer comes from the crowd. The word to Bartimaeus is, “Take heart he is calling you”. Notice Bartimaeus pays attention to the call. He gets up and leaves his cloak and comes to a face to face meeting with Jesus. For that day on he had a new perspective on life.
So who is it in the crowd that is telling you “He’s is calling you,”? I bet it’s the most unexpected of people. That is often when you know it’s time to listen.
By Albert Bogle