The Trees are Walking


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My story—in my own voice!



A verse too close for comfort.

"I see people; they look like trees walking around."
(Mark 8:24)

I first read these words one week ago today. Little did I know, just 24 hours later they would carry new meaning...

This line is from a scripture passage I needed to read for my FB Bible reading group. I’ve found God’s Word comes alive even more if I read a section once and then “sit with it” for several days … reflecting on the words and how they apply to my life … pondering the little details and the big picture … sometimes even imagining myself in the story as it unfolds.

In this passage (Mark 8:22-26) Jesus restores the sight of a blind man. However, unlike other times Jesus heals someone, this healing didn’t happen all at once. It happened in stages. Bear with me as I paraphrase:

Some people brought a blind man to Jesus, begging Jesus to touch him so his vision would be restored. Jesus leads the blind man away from the village, puts spit on his eyes and touches him. (Saliva was considered to have healing properties at that time. Praise God for modern medicine so I don’t have to spit on my patients!) The man regains sight, but we learn things aren’t quite right. Jesus asks him if he sees anything, and the man describes seeing these walking trees. Then Jesus touches the man a second time, and the man sees clearly. 

Why did You restore his vision in stages, Jesus? I know You don’t make mistakes. There's a reason for everything You do. So what are You trying to show me? Why this period of walking trees?

These questions ran through my mind the next day. That evening we learned my mother-in-law had suffered a stroke. Her vision was affected, and she’s experiencing confusion. Vision problems. Confusion. Our very own period of walking trees... 

Jesus, I know sometimes I picture myself in the scripture passages, but don't You think we’ve taken it too far this time? My own family member with vision problems and confusion? This is too close for comfort.

He didn't answer.

Blind faith.
As the week progressed I tried to move on and read the next passage, but each attempt left me feeling … restless. I’ve learned when this happens Jesus is calling me back to the previous passage. It's as if He's gently pointing out that we're not done with our previous conversation; He's not yet ready for me to change the subject. So I sat with this story of two-staged healing a bit longer—rereading the verses and flipping between Bible translations. I read commentaries on the passage and even learned it’s the only time in the Bible Jesus heals someone in two stages. So there must be some significance, right? And I continued to picture myself in the story... 

As I did this Jesus brought to mind a time that a blind man was dropped off out front of our large clinic building just as I arrived. His wife told him she’d park and meet him inside. I watched as he navigated the entrance to the building, assessing for obstacles with his white cane. I approached and offered to help. In return, he gratefully placed his free hand on my arm and asked me to continue speaking so he could follow the sound of my voice as we walked.

I was a complete stranger to this man, and he was essentially at my mercy. He quite literally had blind faith in me, trusting I would lead him where he needed to go and that I had only his best interest at heart. I suppose, in a way, the same can be said about the blind man in the Scripture passage. I imagine He showed up that day hoping Jesus would simply lay hands on him and restore his vision. But we see Jesus had other plans, as He led the blind man out of the village—and quite possibly away from his friends—before ever addressing his sight.

I heard Jesus’ gentle whisper …

Jen, do you have this level of trust in Me? Are you willing to place your hand on My arm and follow Me? Even if I don’t tell you where we’re going? Even when it changes your plans?

Uhhmmmmm….. do I need to answer this right now, Jesus?

And then there was light.
I continued to imagine this scene where the blind man, who has trusted and followed Jesus, first notices that light has entered his world. Do you think it crept in slowly, like the rising sun? Or perhaps it flashed suddenly, like lightening! We don’t know. But I feel certain that this man's world was forever changed as light entered and drove out the darkness that was there before. 

Reflecting on my first encounter with Jesus and the ways in which my world has changed, I wonder: Before the light entered, did the blind man even realize his world was dark? Because I don’t think I did. I think it was only after I opened my heart and allowed Jesus to enter that I could look back and see the darkness that existed before.

Oh, the Joy that followed that first touch from Jesusmay I never forget it! I felt free and whole. My heart was filled with Peace and Hope. It was wonderful ... until, well until that Peace and Hope suddenly collided with something that just wasn't right. Something I knew was wrongas if all the trees were suddenly walking around. 

And sitting with these verses I wonder … What was the man’s initial reaction when he saw those walking trees?

Confusion? Fear and anxiety? Anger
Did he quickly formulate a plan to fix the trees himself?
Did he fall into despair, as his all of hope came crashing down?
Or did he slowly build a wall around himself, trying to protect his once hopeful heart?

And as my own family is suddenly surrounded by walking trees, how will I react?

An invitation.
I slowly realize this Scripture passage tells us nothing of the man's reaction. Instead, we see Jesus asks him a question: 

“Do you see anything?”
(Mark 8:23)

Now Jesus never asks a question without already knowing the answer. But He asks anyway. Why? I think it’s because this question isn’t just a question. This question is an invitation. In fact, I think it may the most important invitation we’ll ever receive: 
It’s an invitation to talk to Him. To tell Him what we see. To tell Him of the things in our lives that don't make sense, the things we know are out of place, the things we know are flat-out wrong. To tell Him about the walking trees that surround us each day. He’s inviting us to pause–before reacting–and turn to Him. He's inviting us to remain by His side, trusting Him, even if it feels that following Him has led us to the place where things don’t make sense.

Why? Because that's relationship. Yes, Jesus knows what we’re experiencing. But if we don’t intentionally share these details and our feelings with Him, we aren’t giving Him a chance to speak into our lives. Or to one day lay His hands on us with that second touch. He is our source of Peace and Joy, Comfort and Light in this worldeven when we are surrounded by a forest of walking trees. But He can only be this for us if we remain close to Him. In relationship with Him. Always talking to Him.

And really, that's all prayer istalking to Him.

That second touch.
In the passage we see Jesus lays His hands on the man a second time, and then the man sees clearly. However, in my research, I discovered some Bible translations include an extra phrase, spoken by Jesus, after He touches the blind man that second time, but before the man sees clearly. In this in-between moment Jesus tells the man to "Look up."

Sitting with this statement, I once again hear Jesus' loving whisper:

Jen, look up. I want you to look at Me. You've followed Me this far. I know many things you're experiencing don't make sense. They are confusing and scary; they just feel wrong. I know things don't always work out the way you want. But I'm asking you to stay by Me, talk to Me. These trees may walk around for a while. And when they stop, a new set of walking trees may appear. But one day, if you stay focused on Me, and keep talking to Me, I will allow you to see everything clearly, too.

I don’t know when that final touch will come
the one that answers all of our questions and makes everything infinitely clear. Although the Lord sometimes blesses us with moments of clear vision, allowing us to glimpse His reasoning or His timing, I think the majority of these answers won't come this side of heaven. But I know if we keep looking up, talking to Him, and staying by Him, then one day, our final touch will come, and we’ll find ourselves face-to-face with the Jesus.  And we, too, will finally see everything clearly.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I don’t know what the future holds for my mother-in-law and our family. But I do know that I’ll keep talking to Him

Our world is filled with walking trees. But I’m praying I never again enter the place of darkness that existed before I first opened the door to my heart and let Jesus in. May He make me like the blind man—courageous enough to place my hand on His arm, allowing Him to lead me wherever He wants, and may I always seek out His Voice to guide my steps. If you’re reading this, I’m praying the same for you.

And as always, I’m praying God breathes life into these words.


(blessed by these words? feel free to share, so you can bless others.)


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