They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26)
Do you see anything? What a great question. Notice, at this point at least, that Jesus didn't ask, "Do you see everything clearly?" I wonder why? Maybe it's because that wasn't the purpose of the first touch.
Life is absolutely full of decisions that have to be made. And I don't know about you, but most of the time these decisions are anything but clear--at least to me anyway. As a matter of fact, I'm in the midst of seeking God's direction in one particular aspect of this wonderful life and ministry he has called me to these days and, at this point at least, clarity is coming rather slowly, if at all. In fact, I would love for it to become clear all at once, but maybe that's not exactly what he wants for me, or not exactly what's going to accomplish the purposes he wants to accomplish in me. While I want the question to be, "Do you see everything clearly?"...because absolute clarity is what I'm most looking for and hoping for. Maybe he wants the question to be, "Do you see anything?"...because maybe he wants to leave enough uncertainty that it makes me completely rely on him. Richard Rohr once said that faith is a kind of knowing that is patient with not knowing. Maybe he wants to leave enough not knowing that I actually have to trust in his infinite love and care for me, rather than my own ability to chart my path and determine my course.
So, in the absence of complete clarity, he leaves me with the question, "Do you see anything?" And it's a pretty great question when you really hear it and try to answer it. I know I can't see everything, but what, exactly, can I see? Even if my answer is something like I see people; they look like trees walking around. Because answering that question has begun a process, which is exactly what Jesus was trying to teach the disciples in the first place: seeing clearly is a process. It doesn't all happen on the first touch, if it did we would have no further need for subsequent touches. I mean they had just seen him feed two different enormous groups of people with just a few loaves and a couple of fish, and immediately they get into the boat and worry about having no bread. Are you kidding me? They were seeing dimly to say the least, but at least they were seeing; especially when he called it to their attention. And now, to illustrate his point, he heals a blind man in stages. Incredible. So there must be value in the process, or we would all be able to see everything on the first touch, right? When we focus on the question, "Do you see anything?" it allows us to still be in process. It causes us to still be dependent on Him, to continue to seek Him. Trying to answer that question allows us to lean into an answer in a much slower, much more formative type of way. It is almost as if God is saying if I give you the answer you will then stop seeking me, and the seeking me is really what I'm after.
So maybe the best thing we can do, until complete clarity comes (if it ever does), is to ask ourselves, "What do I see?" And as I have asked myself this question in my current situation, I begin to recognize a few things that are extraordinarily helpful. I see that you are at work. I see that people are hungry for you. I see that you have given me something very specific to give away and want me to be giving it away regularly. I see that the life you have me living is a wonderful fit for the things you have given me to give away. I see that you are actively working to lead and guide me if I will just pay attention. I see that I still need clarity on a few things in particular, but that clarity is indeed coming over time, rather than all at once. I see the fruitfulness of the activities and conversations you have placed me in the midst of...and it is beautiful...and I am incredibly grateful. I see that the fruitfulness of certain things I'm doing at least appears to be more in line with your work and your Spirit than some others...and that is meant to tell me something. I see that, although I cannot see everything clearly, I do see something...and that is a good thing.
O Jesus, touch my eyes again and again until I am able to see everything clearly. And in the meantime, help me to trust your tender love and care, and to be attentive to what I can see.
The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
~ William Stafford