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I’m not much of a walker. Well, according to my mom I wasn’t much of a ‘stander’ either. The story goes that I would simply stand and then the hugeness of my head or the weakness of my neck, or just my unique DNA, would make me fall backwards, like a felled tree. It was so frequent that I had to get fluid drained from my head when I was three years old. If standing was problematic it’s no wonder that walking proved to be a challenge.
When I was 40 years old I bought a pair of Dr. Scholl exercise sandals which had been so popular when I was a teenager. They were making a comeback and I could finally afford a pair. I remember wearing them the day of my 40th birthday. Walking from the car park to the entrance of the mall I fell OFF the exercise sandals and broke my third toe on my left foot. Doctor referred to it as a spider web break, because the little bones were shattered in so many pieces it resembled a spider’s web. My most recent walking related incident took place just a few weeks ago in our drive way where I was singing, ironically enough, “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles –“ then bam, I slipped off the edge of the drive and fell flat on my knees and my hand. The edge of the drive was one obstacle that got by me. It’s a great relief that when we discuss walking in faith, or walking by faith, it usually has nothing to do with any sort of physical movement.
My favorite faith walking account is the blind man in the bible. Imagine you are blind from birth. In that culture this sort of ailment was often attributed to sin, either the person with the ailment or their parents. Men were the main providers for the families. So here you are, a blind man, possibly battling more than just your physical limitations; you can’t provide for yourself, let alone your family, and you know folks are wondering just what horrible thing you or your parents did to cause you to be blind. Maybe you even wonder that yourself. The only way to survive is to beg for money. Along comes this guy you’ve heard of. Jesus of Nazareth. Some say he’s a prophet from Yahweh, others say he’s from the devil. You hear him approach. He is with other men and they ask him, point blank, who sinned you or your folks, as if you are also deaf. But Jesus’ answer, that neither one sinned, this is something you are happy and relieved to hear. Jesus goes on to say that they must get all the things done because soon it will be dark. Since you’ve lived only in darkness your entire life this doesn’t affect you. Then you hear him spit. You lean forward. There is silence. Gritty damp cold mud is pressed on your eyes. You draw back but stay still. Jesus tells you to go wash in the Pool of Siloam and wash in the water. You’ve never been to the pool because it is a long walk. There are rumors that healing takes place there, but the journey is long and you have never been compelled to tackle it on your own. But this time you do. You rise up. Jesus doesn’t tell anyone to go with you and no one offers. But you go anyways, mud on your blind eyes, heading for a place you’ve only heard of. Jesus’ voice has carried with it an assurance you’ve never felt before. When you finally arrive at the Pool of Siloam, you are exhausted but inwardly excited. You don’t even stop to shed your sandals or your tunic. You rush to the stairs. Somehow you navigate the steps into the pool. The tepid water washes over your hot feet. As you descend the water soaks the hem of your tunic, then, up to your waist plastering the fabric to your thighs. Now, you’re in the middle of the pool. You are surprisingly calm or your heart is pounding. You remember Jesus said to, ‘wash in the pool.’ So you do. You take a deep breath and plunge under the water. It makes no sense that when you stand you will suddenly see. What does that even mean? You rise up from the water and the warm breeze wafts across your wet skin. You open your eyes. You blink once, then twice. You close your eyes and carefully, with one finger, draw the silt off each eye. You open your eyes wide, but then slam them shut against the brightness. Even with them closed, the darkness you’ve known your whole life is displaced by something you can’t even describe because you have no words for seeing except ‘dark’. Slowly, you open your eyes and for the first time in your life you see.
Of course this account in John 9 has much more to this man’s story. When Jesus made him seeing, he also opened his heart and he became a believer. This man told everyone what Jesus had done for him. This man must have felt like his life was new, like he had been given a second chance, born a new. He even challenged the religious Pharisees when they said Jesus was a sinner and accused him of being his disciple when they were disciples of Moses. Finally he says, when they persist, ‘that is very strange! He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.” So brave! So strong.
This man is thrown out of the synagogue because of the religiosity of those in charge. He wasn’t following their rules and he challenged their beliefs. Even still, his story gets better. When Jesus hears he’s been cast out he seeks him out and asks him if he truly believes in Him. ‘Yes, Lord! I believe!” The man can hardly contain his joy, his belief, his love.
Jesus explains that he came to the world to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they can see, that they are blind. The Pharisees ask if Jesus is saying they are blind. And He answers “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty, but you remain guilty because you claim you can see.”
This man actually had to physically walk somewhere. Thank God he has not required that of me, but I hope that I would go. Even though I might fall off my shoes or break some toes. Our challenge most times these days is to have faith in not our physical walk but our spiritual one. Look at the flip flop of this man’s life. All this from one faith walk. One journey that some would have refuse to take because it was too hard, too long, too complicated, too ___________. How about you?
By Linda Mae Baldwin | Freelance Writer