On Sight & Next Steps

Luke 18:35-41

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him,“What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

I’ll be honest. This has been the hardest letter to write. 

In the wake of national outrage and burgeoning awareness of racial disparity; in the subtle and not-at-all-subtle griefs of a pandemic; in tensions and uncertainties to the right and left of normal life–words are important. The emphasis on “voice” lately has been compelling, convicting, and (at some points), condemning. I’ve felt pressure to have the right words at the right time in the right place. Maybe you have, too?

Every fall when I was young, I went to a pumpkin patch with some friends, where we’d also pay money to get lost in mazes made of corn, hay, and plywood. (As I write that, I wonder if this is strictly a Midwestern tradition. Can someone enlighten me? Is this ridiculous?)

One particular maze, called the “Dark Zone,” was predictably pitch black and filled with carpeted walls to keep its occupants mostly injury-free. I remember trailing through the darkness:

I gripped the sweatshirt of the friend in front of me so we wouldn’t get separated. I felt the tug of my own hoodie press into my throat from the friend behind me. My feet shuffled with awkward micro-steps. I heard the nervous shrieks from other corners of the maze and the reassurances of our group’s leader. I smelled the mustiness of an old farm outbuilding. I blinked and opened my eyes wider, just in case there was light to let in. There wasn’t. 

When I couldn’t see, my other senses heightened. 

I prayed a few months ago, “I just want to see this rightly.” I wanted to view what was happening in culture (and in me) with a truthful, compassionate, Gospel-centered lens. “Lord, I want to see.”

But I soon recognized that I am only one person. I have only two eyes. I need God–and others–to help me see. 

As I pursue help to see, I feel my way through the dark. I affirm what I know to be true in Scripture. I listen (with the goal of doing so prayerfully) to those I know and those I don’t. I notice what’s happening in my body: to my heart, my muscles, my eyebrows. I smell the morning dew in the woods as I silently confess and repent. I taste goodness in grilled meat and when I kiss my daughter’s cheeks. 

And I keep on requesting: Lord, I want to see. 

We stained the deck last month on a humid, mosquito-infested evening. I was thinking, dipping, brushing, swatting when I recalled a section from Lauren Winner’s book Real Sex. She describes a conversation with a woman who questions whether a recent interaction with a man was sinful or within the bounds of the Christian theology of sex. 

“Christians who are trying to live chastely want some concrete guidance. What’s licit and what’s illicit? What’s OK and what’s sinful? What’s allowed and what’s forbidden? What I said to [her] was this: . . . ‘I’m not sure,’ I said, ‘that the question you should be asking is At what point, precisely, did I sin? You may want to be asking if your behavior was prudent, loving, or wise. You may want to ask at what point you loved your neighbor.'”

That answer is remarkably helpful to me. Not just in a reflective way, but in a proactive one. 

As I take those awkward micro-steps forward…
What is prudent, thoughtful, appropriate?
What is loving, selfless, sacrificial?
What is wise, discerning, understanding?

For me, that looks like examining what’s been entrusted–as a member of the Church, a wife to a police officer, a mama to one whose worldview is being shaped day by day, and many other roles–and allowing those questions to simmer and then shape me.

It’s all so very complex, and putting words around the complexity is hard. Please know that I treasure your willingness to let these imperfect and incomplete words land in your inbox with every letter. I’m praying for all of us–that both the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in His sight (Psalm 19:14).

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