The sound of familiar voices woke me, but opening my eyes revealed nothing but more darkness. Even after all this time, each morning brought a renewed longing to see the faces of loved ones. I feared forgetting them.
Estimating the time by the temperature in the room, I sat up and felt my surroundings, getting my bearings. My sandals sat by the bed, and I slid into them, one foot at a time.
Excited energy crackled in the air. Outside my window, I heard people walking, but I didn’t know what was happening. Everyone seemed to be heading east, chasing after someone or something.
What was going on?
My friends’ voices grew louder.
They were inside now.
“Berel, hurry! You must come with us now. Jesus is coming! He is here in town.”
I’d heard of Jesus. Stories of Him were spreading throughout Bethsaida and many claimed He was the Promised One. But I wasn’t so sure. A carpenter from Nazareth was not the Messiah I envisioned from the prophets’ description.
Besides, I wasn’t sure healing was part of my story. How many times had I prayed from the psalms, asking God’s forgiveness and for my affliction to be removed? How many times had my friends fasted on my behalf on the Day of Atonement, with no resulting change? Hope was buried somewhere deep within me, and seemed too dangerous to reach for again.
But my friends were hopeful and relentless. They pushed me toward the door as my inner monologue of doubt and questions shouted in my ears. Regardless of what I thought, my friends believed this man could heal me, and they were not going to miss this opportunity. Even if it meant dragging me down the road to the carpenter.
Resigned to their efforts, I allowed them to lead me. The day was already hot as we made our way down the dirt road and I felt beads of sweat forming on my forehead. After we’d walked about half a mile, I heard my friend Alon cry out, “There He is! It’s Him!”
His hands left mine for a moment and I sensed he was using them to plead with Jesus.
“Please, Rabbi. If You could just touch him. Please. He has been blind many years, but we know You can heal him.”
Time seemed suspended as we stood in the street. I had a feeling Jesus was looking at me assessing my need, and perhaps even my faith. Then, before I had the chance to speak or plead my case, my eyes were wet with a slimy residue. What was happening?!
I began protesting, but strong fingers pressed against my eyelids. Warmth permeated from them and when He removed His hands, I noticed something. The darkness that had been my world for years was no longer pitch black; light began filtering in. I could see shapes where before, I saw nothing.
Something I barely recognized pulled at my heart. It had been so long since I felt it, I almost pushed it back down.
It was hope.
Was this man capable of healing me? Was this the beginning? A juxtaposition of fear and possibility overtook me; I knew a crossroads of choice had come.
“Do you see anything?” (Mark 8:23)
Jesus’ question interrupted my warring thoughts. His voice was calm and centered, and I felt He already knew the answer. Although I didn’t fully understand it, I knew the question went beyond my physical sight: He was asking me to make a decision. I also knew honesty was the only way to answer Him.
“I see people; they look like trees walking around,” I said. (Mark 8:24)
I wanted to see. I tasted it and now I longed for it with everything in my being. Hope and firm belief sprang to life in my spirit, silencing doubt and fear. This Messiah could indeed heal me, fully and completely. The soft light and blurred shapes were only a fragment of what He could do. I knew it.
My body trembled as He reached out again. I could make out the shape of His hands this time. His fingers caressed my eyes again, but this time I had no doubts about His ability. As soon as He removed His hands, my belief was confirmed. Tree shapes became people. Masses devoid of detail became faces and I saw hope in everyone’s eyes.
Suddenly, my body felt lighter, as though a weight was lifted. This Jesus saved me! He was the One.
My friends jumped with excitement as they realized I was healed. I looked at the face of the man who changed my life forever. I will never forget how His eyes spoke of kindness and compassion, but there was something else. A sadness. As if He knew something I didn’t. I hoped I wasn’t a part of it.
A posture of worship overtook me, and I wanted to shout my story from the center of town. After all, if this Messiah restored my sight, what could He not do? Everyone needed to know about Him.
Jesus had other plans. He sent me home with instructions not to tell anyone about what happened. Why? I didn’t understand it, but somehow I knew I needed to listen to Him. So even when my neighbors questioned me about my healing, I remained quiet.
But my quietness could not hide the transformation inside of me. Every morning when I woke up, my renewed sight brought fresh cause for worship.
People around me witnessed the change, too. They saw hope, once buried, now resurrected.
And they went looking for this man called Jesus.
Sketched VIII, Day 12
Instead, God’s peace is found when you leave what you have known to follow Him. “He who dwells in the SECRET place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalms 91:1)
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