Mud pies and ugly sandwiches
Published 6:46 pm Saturday, August 12, 2023
By R.A. Tea Mathews
I spotted the old man, who lives under the bridge, as he stood on his street corner. There was no traffic, so I was able to pull beside him and stop.
I’ve known him for several years. He’s gentle, although earnest with his panhandling sign. He’s there for a reason. Some days, that makes me laugh.
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This was one of those days.
“Do you like peanut butter?” I asked.
“Yes.” He grinned, looking inside my vehicle. I reached for the sandwich I had made for myself. It was a sacrifice—I was traveling and needed it. Even so, I didn’t want him to go hungry and didn’t have time to find him something.
I handed it through the window, and he immediately shook his head. “No,” he said.
“It’s good. Peanut butter and homemade jam on Ezekiel bread.”
“No,“ he said, again, stepping back from my car.
“But you said you liked peanut butter.”
“I don’t like that kind.”
Okay, I laughed. What I haven’t told you is that the sandwich didn’t look exactly right—I had sat on half of it.
But I kept trying.
“Honestly, it’s good,” I said. “It just looks a little—”
He eyed the squashed side. I turned the good side to him.
“No,” he said, walking away.
I left but thought of him later while eating that great sandwich. I recalled the story of Jesus and the nameless blind man. Let me show you why.
When Jesus encountered that blind man, the Lord spit on the ground and placed mud on his eyes. What did Jesus say?
“I am the Light of the world.”
Here’s the passage: “As Jesus passed by, He saw a man who had been blind from birth . . . (and said) ‘I am the Light of the world.’ When He had said this, He spit on the ground, and made mud from the saliva, and applied the mud to his eyes and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, ‘Sent’).” (John 9:1-7)
How did the blind man respond? Now remember, he has mud on his eyes from Jesus’ spit. Did he walk away, disgusted? Or did he ask Jesus to come with him, hoping the mud would really work?
Here’s the rest of the passage:
“… and (Jesus) said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So, he left and washed, and came back seeing.” (John 9:7)
He hadn’t asked Jesus anything. He simply believed.
But healings didn’t always go like that. Blind Bartimaeus received a much better deal. Here’s the passage:
“…as (Jesus) was leaving Jericho … a beggar who was blind named Bartimaeus … began to cry out … And Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he regained his sight…” (Mark 10:46-52)
Bartimaeus was healed at once. Everyone who saw Jesus and needed healing had faith, right?
Recall when Jesus was teaching in his hometown of Nazareth: “Jesus … came into His hometown … began to teach … and the many listeners were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man learn these things, and what is this wisdom … Is this not the carpenter …’” (Mark 6:1-4)
The people of Nazareth took offense, thinking Jesus was acting bigger than His britches. Scripture says: “And He was amazed at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:6)
The blind man took his muddied eyes, went, and washed without asking anything. He had what the people of Nazareth did not. He had blind faith.
God has handed me many ugly sandwiches and mud pies. He’s led me down paths I didn’t want to walk, guided me on journeys that couldn’t possibly be right.
But God knew what He was up to. A woman recently asked me, “What will you be doing in five years?”
What I’m doing right now.
It’s true. I love everything God has given to me: writing, representing children and the mentally ill, and mediating disputes. Believe me, I didn’t want to go to law school. I won a three-year full academic scholarship. And then I won the American Jurisprudence Award in Mediation from a top ten law school when everyone in my class laughed at it. They wanted to be litigators. Five years later, mediation was big, and they were asking me how to do it.
Prayer is answered differently for different people. Yours might come immediately as it did for Bartimaeus. Or you may get answers that you don’t want. The old panhandler didn’t want my sandwich, but he missed out!
God isn’t always going to give you what “looks right.” When the Lord speaks to you, whatever you’re guided to do, follow Him blindly.
Jesus is the light of the world.
The Rev. Mathews, BA, MDiv, JD, is a newspaper faith columnist, attorney, mediator, and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at Hello@RAMathews.com to join her 1-Minute Bible Study.
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