“What do you want me to do for you?”
This is the question Jesus asked Bartimaeus when that blind man approached him on the road. What a puzzling question. It seems obvious to us. Obviously, he wants to see. And, in fact, this is what he says. But, Jesus asked the question anyway. Was it because he really didn’t know what Bartimaeus would ask for? Obviously not. Instead, maybe he just wanted Bartimaeus to be intentional about what he was asking. Maybe he wanted him to be aware of his desire.
I don’t tend to pay attention to my desires as much as I should. If I did, I would know more what it is I am longing for in relationships with others, in my relationship with God, in my own inner being. I would also be more able to weigh out the desires that are born out of sin and desires placed in my heart by God. I could learn to confess and repent and depend on Christ to transform me. I could sit with unmet desires and ask God to remind me that he is enough for me. I could recount all the ways that Christ has given me the desires of my heart over the years.
Instead, I tend to ignore them. To not think too deeply about them. Somehow, I have learned over the years that desire leads to bad feelings. That word, desire, even seems a little dark to me. A little sinister. After all, what if I discover my desires are sinful and then I feel guilty and judged. What if I discover I have desires that will continue to go unmet, and it doesn’t seem like Jesus will be enough for me. Those are thoughts I don’t want to engage with, things I don’t want to feel. It’s easier to see desires in a general way instead of in a specific way. I desire a closer relationship with Jesus, to spend more quality time in relationships with those I love, to be at rest more. If I start to get too specific about those things, then I might be confronted with those bad feelings that I don’t really want to feel.
But here Jesus is, with blind Bartimaeus, asking him to be very specific about what it is he wants. Asking him to be aware of his very specific desire and then to ask for it. And I can’t help but wonder…is that what he is asking me as well?
It’s riskier to tell him that I want to be more aware of His presence throughout the day, to be more tied to him in a way that is unmistakable. It’s definitely riskier to say that I want to be pursued more in my relationships and to be more intimate with my close circle of friends. It’s riskier to say that I want to feel more at peace and more at rest. Because what if none of that happens. Then what? What do I do with the bad feelings that come then?
I guess then I get to come to him with the bad feelings and answer the question as he asks again, “What do you want me to do for you?” I get to walk with him in the midst of feeling bad and learn that he is enough.
Or….or maybe he fulfills those desires. Maybe he gives me all that I want. Or teaches me how to want what is better and then gives me that.
Either way, if I am willing to be aware of my desire, willing to risk asking for the very specific desires I have, I think I end up like Bartimaeus.
No longer blind.
Able to see more clearly.