October 24, 2021
I was at a Minnesota Twins baseball game in the mid-80s. Gary Ward was the left fielder at the time, a popular but otherwise unspectacular player. We were seated in the lower deck immediately behind left field. The crowd was sparse, maybe 10,000 people at the game. There was a man in the upper deck, which was behind us more than it was on top of us, shouting, “Hey, Wardo!” (his nickname) during warmups. After a few shouts, Ward turned around and threw the ball up to the guy. It was an impressive throw—long, high, and on target. The jumbotron showed a replay of the fan reaching for, dropping, and then picking up the ball with an elated look on his face. Though there were “only” 10,000 or so fans in a stadium that held around 50,000 for a baseball game, the Gary Ward fan was heard, recognized, and rewarded for his persistence.
I am certain that Bartimaeus was also elated at being heard. He threw aside his cloak, certain to lose his only belonging and protection against the elements in the vast crowd, and “sprang up” to meet Jesus. Then, in the ultimate test of faith, Jesus asked him what he wanted. He replied, “I want to see.” Bartimaeus was heard, recognized and rewarded for his persistence, being told by Jesus, “your faith has saved you.” Then Bartimaeus did something that I know from experience would have been hard for me to do—he believed. He wasn’t yet healed of his blindness, but he walked away elated and only then received his sight. There wasn’t even a fumble when Jesus threw him the ball. Bartimaeus walked away in faith and was healed.
I am an outloud guy. I am quick to speak (sometimes perhaps too quick), and I do not shy away from making myself heard at home, in the office, or, sometimes to the embarrassment of my children, when I have a complaint at the store. I am undoubtedly heard. Often. Yet I truly wish I more often had the persistence of Bartimaeus, able to walk away in faith knowing that I’ve been heard, recognized, and willing to trust and wait for a reward that is yet to come. When I consider the proud and the strong that must have been in the crowd walking with Jesus that day, looking down at the shouting beggar, I know that I am among them. But that beggar had an enviable faith, one I pray I can grow into in my walk with Christ.
My Lord Jesus, you showed me the reward of faith through a blind street beggar. Thank you for humbling me to let me know it is you in whom I am to trust in all things. Strengthen my faith, Lord, and help me to be persistent in seeking you. Amen