Friday, January 14, 2011

When "Partial" Isn't Good Enough

There’s a uniquely intriguing story that involves Jesus and a blind man that puzzles at first glance, and deserves a closer look. Set in the heart of Mark chapter eight, it seems almost random amidst the happenings prior to and after it. But that’s not what puzzles me. See for yourself.

“[Jesus] came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, ‘I see men like trees, walking.’ Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.”
Mark 8:22-25

Okay, so maybe we find a few things puzzling about this story! Spitting in someone’s eyes to make them see sounds a little weird, not your typical doctor’s practice of modern medicine—even among natural therapies. But Jesus is known for doing things different, so no big surprise. It is the partial healing that takes the stage here. In no other recording of healing within the Bible do we find such an account. All other physical healings were instantaneously complete. (Beth Moore, “So Long Insecurity”)

Is anyone else marveling at why this happened? Was Jesus having an “off” day? Maybe He just couldn’t get it right the first time.
Jesus:  “What do you see?”
The man:  “Uh, men like trees walking.”
Jesus:  “Oops, let’s try again. Now what do you see?”
The man:  “I see everything clearly now!”

Could it be He lost His train of thought or His connection to the Father? Not likely, huh? Perhaps He was trying to make a point we would desperately need to understand for our own healing. Follow closely for the next few minutes.

We are often satisfied with partial healings (or even no healing at all). We chalk everything up to personality or an inability to change. On the other hand, as my husband and I have facilitated restoration in small group settings, we have witnessed people get up and walk out early on with the statement, “I’m fine; I’ve had successes in my life and I’m fine. I don’t need this.”

Many people wrongfully assume that a person must appear “messed up” or have painfully obvious pasts to need such healing. We have a certain picture of what such a person looks like. Often weak, maybe unable to hold a job or run a family, severely emotionally unstable, etc. On the contrary, most people have become quite accustomed to responding to life around them in a way that disguises, diminishes, and even denies the wounds of their past. Because they are functional, they believe they are fine. I can relate; that was me a decade ago.

As God began to pry my eyes open to the truth, He gave an illustration that is profoundly true. A broken bone that is not reset will still mend—to a point. It may still be able to move and function, but it will not have the full range of motion it was originally intended to have. It is limited, and will cause us trouble along the way. In order to fully restore the bone to its intended state, it will require a surgeon to re-break it at the point of its wound, and reset it properly.

Back to the story of Jesus’ encounter with the blind man in Bethsaida. Jesus was not satisfied with what the man first saw when asked. He could see alright, but he could not see clearly or properly! Jesus didn’t want to improve the man’s eyesight. He wanted to fix it. (Beth Moore, “So Long Insecurity”)

So it is with our broken, wounded hearts.

Most of us as women can understand the concept of wanting to “fix” people, or situations. We are pros at fixing, or at least trying! We fix our children’s boo-boos, our husband’s mistakes (it’s ok to laugh here), and our friends’ problems. It seems we are always aiming to take the pain away or make something work.

When it comes to the heart, however, there’s something we must understand. Only Jesus can fix our hearts. It is Jesus who God sent as prophesied in Isaiah chapter 61 and fulfilled in Luke chapter 4, saying, “He has sent me [Jesus] to bind up and heal the brokenhearted…”

As stated in the last blog, this is not “12 Steps to a Better You.” Jesus is not aiming to make us better (remember, that is largely sin-management). He wants to make us whole. It is time we remove the steel walls tightly securing our pasts and invite the one true Surgeon, Jesus Christ, to come with us to the points of our wounds, and set them straight once and for all.

Just when you think this is as good as it gets, Jesus says, “Wait, there’s so much more.”

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