Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. -Mark 10:47
Recently, my husband and I visited Hungary. We spent a few days in Budapest; one thing we delighted in were walking tours of the various parts of the city. These tours were lead by very knowledgeable young people intent on educating visitors about the past and present of their country. The walks were FREE and well worth any tip you were moved to give to them.
The Hungarian history is varied ranging from the Celtics in the 400’s, to the eventual Christianization by King Stephen in 1000, to subjugation by the Communist government of the USSR. The city reflects many aspects of those by- gone eras.
As we walked through the medieval city, I was struck by how modern Hungary was presenting itself. Many of the building were in a state of disrepair. The Communist domination had done little to keep the medieval buildings clean and repaired. Some of the old buildings in Budapest were being cleaned only at eye level—the first floor. I suppose the idea was to put the Hungarian best foot forward where most people looked. This was a struggle with national pride. One that money can change.
As I walked looking at the buildings, it occurred to me that is the way we humans clean ourselves at eye level for others to see, a struggle with personal pride. One that money can’t change, that is God’s job.
At various times in my life, I’ve been distressed by my need to show only the clean, sparkling parts of myself, my first floor. I eventually have had to beg my Lord for the grace of humility. Little did I know of what I was begging! It came to me from within and as a result of that begging that I had to acknowledge my pride before God. I needed to intentionally look at my pride and call it what it is—sin. Pride is the way the evil one diminishes the work of the Lord in my life.
I had to face my need for healing and realize that it is a gift that God freely gives to me whether I beg for it or not. But like the medieval buildings that are partiality clean, I needed to beg for God’s mercy to clean the inside as well as my upper stories. Being who I am, I will need to do so all of my life.
Scripture is replete with stories of God’s healings. While I couldn’t come up with one centered on buildings, one of my favorites which always has a message for me, is the cry of the man begging at the city gate of Jericho. When Jesus was passing by, the man called out to him and Jesus responded
Like the blind man, Bartimaeus, I need to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” and then tell him when Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:46-52) Before Bartimaeus could receive the gift of healing, he had to recognize and acknowledge his need of healing. I, too, need to spend time begging so that I will remember that salvation is a gift from God and has nothing to do with how clean and sparkly I am on the outside but how in need I am of his healing grace on the inside and all of the upper floors.
I know that, like the lovely buildings in Budapest, I am blessed with my share of God-given gifts, but mixed in with those is a need for healing that I sometimes don’t clearly see. I am grateful for these gifts and I also beg for the honestly to acknowledge what needs to be healed.
“We all have to try to become holy on our own, and fail, before we can approach God with humility.” Mark Salzman, Lying Awake