An old idiom that is sometimes used in offering toasts is, “Here’s mud in your eye!” Though the origin and meaning of these words are not entirely clear, they are often spoken to wish someone a long, healthy life, and used at weddings, and other formal occasions.
There are many explanations of how “mud in your eye” got started. Some think it has to do with soldiers during World War I who had engaged in muddy trench warfare. Others suggest that, instead of wishing someone well, it was originally meant to insult someone as it may refer to horse racing. When a jockey would be following behind another jockey’s horse in the race, he would get splattered in the face with mud from the dirt track. The winner, of course, would not get splattered.
But another intriguing explanation is that “mud in your eye” may have come from the Bible:
John 9:1-41 (New American Standard, NASB)
As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” 6When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing. 8Therefore the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, “Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?” 9Others were saying, “This is he,” still others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the one.” 10So they were saying to him, “How then were your eyes opened?” 11He answered, “The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.” 12They said to him, “Where is He?” He *said, “I do not know.”
13They *brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind. 14Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17So they *said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet.”
18The Jews then did not believe it of him, that he had been blind and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight, 19and questioned them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?” 20His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. 23For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.” 25He then answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26So they said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” 27He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?” 28They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.” 30The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. 32Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” 34They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” So they put him out.
35Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” 38And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. 39And Jesus said, “For judgement I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
Commenting on this story in one of his sermons, Robert J. Morgan wrote,
Why did Jesus send the blind man to the Pool of Siloam to wash his eyes? Jesus could have just said, “Be healed,” and the man’s sight would have come to him on the spot. But he wanted the man to do something, to exercise obedience, so he sent him to the Siloam Pool to wash his eyes. But there’s an interesting little detail to the story. Before sending him off, Jesus smeared mud over his eyelids.
The intriguing question is: Why? Have you ever seen anyone spit into the dirt, twirl it around with his finger, then take the mud and smear it over someone’s eyes? How would you like it if someone did that to you?
It’s obvious. The mud made the man want to obey. It was a nudging, an additional motivation for the man to go to the pool of Siloam to wash his eyes. The mud provided the motivation for the obedience Christ required.
We don’t always understand why mud gets in our eyes, but sometimes if it weren’t there, we would never bring critical areas of our lives into obedience to Jesus. And without obedience, the work of God can never be displayed in us. God, in his infinite grace and wisdom, sometimes uses mud to restore our sight. (Preacher’s Sourcebook of Creative Sermon Illustrations).
Whether “mud in your eye” is used as an idiom at a toast or it represents the Lord’s nudging us toward obedience and wholeness, it reminds us that we have to rely on his blessings and grace at all times. We might have one of those days when the mud is really flying and we’re confused over what we’re going to do next. We find ourselves wrestling with the thought that life is so unfair at times. If we go to the Pool of Siloam—that is, to the Power of God’s Word and his Son—in humble obedience to him, then we’ll be able to find the healing we need, to thrive and survive over our struggles.
I close with a prayer that I found on-line that will help with those times we face confusion over our difficulties—when circumstances seem “as clear as mud,” so to speak. When you read it, perhaps you will identify with the feelings you’ve gone through during your difficult times. The following words were written by Rachel Wojo, who has a fascinating testimony of her own. (See the link to her blog below.) She wrote, “A Prayer For When I Can’t Understand God’s Plan”:
Today is one of those days.
You know the ones,
When life just doesn’t makes sense
When the world seems so unfair
Because it is unfair.
We need you Lord, I need you.
I need you to wrap your arms me
And help me understand
That it’s a good thing I don’t understand everything.
How can I possibly comprehend Your plan of
Intricacy and detail for the entire world?
You are God,
And I am not
You spoke the world into existence.
You shaped humans from dust,
And only you can create beauty from ashes.
May I appreciate the exquisite work of Your hands
To transform my nothing
Into Your everything.
Here is Open the Eyes of My Heart by Maranatha Singers:
Good News to YOU!