And they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; He is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprand up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:46-52)
It was only five minutes, but I won’t soon forget it.
We were rushing around the Opryland Hotel at Lads to Leaders. Bible Bowl was done and we had just a few minutes to go to our room, let the kids practice leading their songs, and freshen up a bit before heading out to song leading.
But as we walked by one of the giant ballrooms, I just knew we needed to pause for a minute or two. Call it a dad’s intuition. Call it luck. Call it whatever you like, but I just knew it was the right thing to do.
See, in that giant ballroom, there was another event going on. It is event named after the blind man of the story told above: Bartimaeus. A few years ago, Lads to Leaders made the very wise decision to offer an event for people of all ages who have special needs. They create art work. They lead singing. They give speeches. They read Scripture.
And it is as moving as anything you will ever see.
I felt like my kids needed to see it, so we veered right and headed into the ballroom, sitting near the door.
A young man was leading a song. I don’t remember what it was, but everyone was standing and following along.
Then, they announced the name of another young man. I would guess he was probably mid-teens, maybe even twenty. He wanted to lead “This Little Light of Mine.”
From his wheelchair.
And he could scarcely talk.
But his finger went in the air and he–for all intents and purposes–grunted his way through the song. He did “blow” when it was time to say, “Don’t let Satan [blow] it out; I’m gonna let it shine.”
I watched him. Then I watched my children.
They followed along as if the greatest song leader in the brotherhood were leading them. So did everyone else in the room, even though we were singing a “little kid” song, and could not understand our leader.
But that was just the thing. We could understand him. Oh, we might not have been able to pick out many specific words from that song, but we could understand his heart. His Christian light was shining, and I have no doubt in my mind that he is going to let his light shine all the time, and that he will not hide it under a bushel (no!).
We only stayed five minutes, but I honestly think those five minutes changed the whole tenor of our trip.
When we got back to the room, I asked our kids (ages 10 and, on that day, 9) why they thought we had done that. Why had we paused in the middle of a crazy busy day to sing “This Little Light of Mine” with someone we could not understand?
Their answers were innocent, but profound. They realized that it encouraged the leader to have people there to sing along. They knew it made them feel good to make him feel good.
Then, with tears literally streaming down my face, I hugged my kids up close and I told them they were right, but that there was more. I said something like this: “It’s because I wanted you to see what you have. I don’t care if you never win a trophy or medal for leading a song or giving a speech. I want you to thank God every day that you are able to do those things so easily. I know your daddy sure is thankful.”
With that, we all cried, and I think they got it.
Bartimaeus could never have known that his name would still be used 2000 years later as encouragement to some very special people. He just wanted to meet Jesus, and he overcame a great difficulty to do so.
2000 years later, some very special people overcame so much more than I have ever had to just to sing a song. But they taught a lesson in just five minutes that changed my family.
For every “Bartimaeus” out there, may God be praised.
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn