“Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” (Mark 10:49)

It’s not a feeling you quickly forget. And it’s most likely the reason for my “white coat syndrome” today. That terrifying, breath-stopping, window of time between when you realize the routine exam is taking too long, to when the doctor actually confirms your fear. The first time I experienced this was when I lost my baby through miscarriage. A more recent time, however, was when I lost my vision.

Remember that childhood chant “cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye”? It was a most sacred promise, one sure to be kept because what could be worse than a needle in the eye? Well, I must’ve said it one too many times because in 2013, that longtime nightmare became a reality for me. I suffered a stroke in my right eye, technically, Central Retinal Vein Occlusion (for which the required treatment was a series of eye injections). In most cases, this causes blindness, but in my always-atypical case, the center of my vision remained clear, for which I am extremely thankful. Currently, the “only” obstacles I face are brightness, darkness, two blind spots and one annoying floater.

Unlike me, however, in Mark 10 we read about a man named Bartimaeus, who was not partially, but completely blind. Although he lacked physical sight, he had the foresight to know what an encounter with Jesus could accomplish. When he heard Jesus was near, he cried out to Him “have mercy on me!” The crowd attempted to shush him, but he only cried out louder. And his persistence paid off. To his delight, Jesus heard his plea, and a message filtered back through the people: “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” Now, stay with me here, but remember in Luke 1, when Mary went to visit Elizabeth? Upon her greeting, Elizabeth’s baby leaped in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Well…I’m not pregnant (whew!), but that’s exactly how I feel when I read those words. An indescribable joy leaps in my soul and fills me, ’cause Jesus IS calling me! And He’s calling you too. Still, at times, I wonder why God would even want me. But then I look at my kids, and it’s so simple. I love them. They are mine.

Yet, we are a forgetful, stubborn people. Sometimes attitude can smudge our view of life and only God can clear that lens. Just as Bartimaeus sat immobilized by the side of the road, circumstances can leave us feeling trapped by fear, anger, pain or helplessness. However, the same way he tossed aside his garment at the call from Jesus, we too can throw off that weight and make a beeline for God. Then, when the Lord asks “What do you want Me to do for you?”, we can echo his reply, “sight”. And the Master Physician will open our eyes, spiritually, if not physically. I’ve been there. At that point, it doesn’t matter what I don’t have or what I can’t do, because seeing The Great I Am right there with me is enough. His presence was made clear in so many ways: scriptures unexpectedly flowing from my heart to my lips (confirming faithful promises); songs on the radio transporting me straight to the throne of grace (inspiring glorious praise); encouraging texts from loved ones praying for me (ministering timely reminders). The Holy Spirit is always moving, ever beckoning…

To see or not to see is the question (and not just because my glasses need cleaning). Emotions get in the way. But throughout this whole unnerving experience, God’s presence spiritually medicated me ’til the old hymn Be Thou My Vision became my heart’s prayer, before knowing the outcome. The Lord has shown me, through trials like this, that looking to the One who holds it all together is the only way to see in the darkness; so, I’ve embraced the following life motto, which perfectly suits my love of all things glittery: See…Him…IN…Everything. S.H.IN.E., it’s my own little acronym for focus, ’cause I need all the help I can get. If it helps you too, feel free to use it. In trials, we are quick to quote the “all things for good” verse, but I challenge you – don’t just look for the good, look for GOD! Thanksgiving and praise bring us through the gates and into His courts. When we come face to face with the Lord, we can’t help but reflect His glory to the world. We can S.H.IN.E. because, no matter what, God is there too, in the middle of it all. And how could we not “be of good cheer” while looking at Jesus? He is calling you. Rise!

“O King of glory, my victory won; Rule and reign in me ’til Thy will be done;
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall; Still be my vision, O Ruler of all”.

SHINE, always
– Cheryl