Reflections on Luke 18:39
“…yet he screamed and shrieked so much the more, Son of David, take pity and have mercy on me!”
Luke 18:39 (AMP)
Did anyone speak to him as he lay there in the dust?
Maybe a kind, reasonable voice: “Stay down. It’ll all be over soon. Tomorrow your friends will still be your friends. They’ll care for you – you’ll still have food.” Another voice, strong and persuasive: “Who are they to slap you down like that? Do something! You are just as much a son of Abraham as they are. Fight them!”
If anybody did, he didn’t listen.
Instead, he shoots back into the air like a kite launching into the morning sky. Up on his knees, his hands outstretched, his face surprisingly happy and free as he opens his mouth and out comes a booming voice, different this time.
It’s louder. He’s shrieking!
“Son of David, take pity and have mercy on me!”
I hear what I didn’t hear before – I wonder why? He calls him “Son of David.” I take a quick read through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. I find few people know what this man knows: a Gentile woman not even of the family of Israel; other blind men; the angel Gabriel as he announces the birth of Messiah to the young Mary; the crowd, and especially the children, on Palm Sunday.
Few see as the blind beggar sees.
His voice, like a musical note lifting high above the roar of the crowd, pierces the air with a sound no one else even knows how to play: The Son of David is here! The King of kings is passing! The One promised to David, spoken and foretold by the prophets, long awaited by the Jews. He has mercy to give like no other mercy.
How does the blind man know this? Who told him? And when?
I wonder if the crowd in front did it again. Did they push him back, push him down, slam him hard to the ground? Did they threaten him this time? Did they hurt him? No matter, he doesn’t stop. No one can steal the gift he’s been given.
“Son of David, take pity and have mercy on me!”
Deep within, he knows.
* * *
A day passes, and then another. I want to write Missy back but I don’t know what to say yet. I keep thinking about her friend.
Is it true, some of us never recover?
Some years ago, I asked for a meeting with my boss. I felt he’d made decisions that were morally wrong and would, in the end, hurt a great number of people. The meeting didn’t go well. He came hard against me and made it clear my job was over if I didn’t support him. His reaction more than surprised me.
I didn’t want to lose my job.
So I did what Missy said a lot of us do. Slapped down, I decided to stay down. I didn’t feel like I had another choice. I was trapped in a two-dimensional world where I either stayed quiet or fought back. One or the other. And why should I fight back? I knew I couldn’t change his mind. I knew he’d fire me if I tried.
So I went to work, buried my head in the sand, and plotted along. After a while, my conscience troubled me. I knew I had to go back and confront him. In my tiny little world stuck between two choices, I chose the other and lost my job.
It stung and stung deep.
Years later, I can still feel it. The hurt in my soul only served to deepen my conviction there are only two choices in this life. Some of us comply. Some of us don’t. And most of us do our best to live in the tension between the two.
It’s why I wonder if Missy is right: Do any of us recover from that?
And it’s why the beggar surprises me. How did he break free from this tension, both refusing to stay down in the dust and refusing to fight the crowd in front of him? He doesn’t care what they think. He doesn’t need their approval or favor. He knows what he wants. He opts for a third choice. He’s free. He’s loud.
I want that in my life.
So I call up Eric and ask if we could have dinner together with our wives. We did and had the best of nights. Early the next morning, I tried to capture part of our conversation in my journal. Things were said I didn’t want to forget.
Halfway through dinner, Erilynne and I asked Missy about her friend.
Missy: She’s basically doing well. I saw her the other day. I went to hear her give a lecture at the local community college. She’s a phenomenal teacher. She’s great at what she does. It’s just she’s got an edge to her, that’s all.
Erilynne: What kind of edge?
Missy: Like she’s arguing with somebody who’s not there. A friend of mine calls it the “monster in the room.” I think it’s gotten worse since her dad died.
Eric: But I don’t think she’s aware of it, do you?
Missy: Not really. I’ve talked to her about it. She thinks its passion, it’s what fuels her to fight her cause. In her mind, the Lord has called her to fight the Goliath of her day. What we call an “edge” she calls her “five stones.” She wants nothing more in life than to help women use those stones to bring this Goliath down.
Erilynne: It sounds exhausting!
Missy: Let me tell you, from my experience, it is!
Eric: Go ahead Mis, tell them your story.
Missy: The hurts my friend has suffered from men goes back to her childhood. It’s both complicated and chronic. Mine isn’t. Although my Dad was an alcoholic, I knew he loved me. I knew he always loved me. There were times he was sober and times he wasn’t. He had a long stretch at the end of his life when he wasn’t.
Eric: That’s when I met him. He was sober when I dated Missy. One great guy.
Missy: A few months before he died, he relapsed. It got so bad he ended up in the hospital. When I went to see him, he shut me out. He wouldn’t let me come into the room. I heard from other family members he wanted nothing to do with me. He called me names and made fun of me in front of others. I heard all about it.
And then, suddenly, he was dead.
I can’t even begin to describe how painful it was. I wanted my Dad’s blessing. I wanted him to know how much I loved him and I wanted him to say the same thing to me. But it never happened and the rejection dug deep within my soul.
Thad: Like your friend.
Missy: Yeah, like my friend.
Eric: But the story doesn’t end there.
Missy: No, not for me it doesn’t. A few years later, the Lord gave me a special gift. It’s like He whispered into my heart and I knew what I didn’t know before. Jesus’ love is bigger. My heavenly Father’s love is stronger. He gave me His blessing.
And that’s what made the difference. I broke free. I was no longer bound by my Dad’s rejection. It was over and, from that day on, it’s like the Lord surprised me with the gift of being at peace with my Dad. I still miss him. I still love him.
Eric: But you’re free.
Missy: Yeah, I’m free. But I’m telling you, if the Lord didn’t step in and speak to my heart, I’d be just like my friend. I’d be fighting the ghost of my dad to this day. Which is exactly why I come alongside her. I want her day to come. I want her to know what that blind beggar knew. The King is here. The King is passing.
And He can do, deep within, what none of us can do.
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