It was bad enough! Invading white hairs like tares among the wheat began to appear a couple of years ago! However some chemical deception saw to those and I was naively still thinking that I would approach ‘40’ in reasonable condition. Alas, the last straw came a few months ago – reading glasses!
As newsprint, needles and thread and other small objects became part of my world again, I was reminded of other areas in my life, which still were in an altered state of focus. Perhaps you too can relate to some of these distortions of "spiritual sight".
We grow in our Christian lives by God’s outworking and in working of our experiences along the way. He wants us to look back at our times of blessing and be encouraged. He wants us to remember how He delivered us from the clutches of Satan. He wants us to remember the lessons He taught us.
However, God does not want us to try and live with our eyes turned 180 degrees to the rear. He doesn’t want us to live in the past – only learn from it. Are we obsessed with past failures, mistakes and hurts? Do we mull over and over how if only we had made different choices there would have been happier outcomes?
Paul had a past he wasn’t proud of, but he recognised that God considered him a work in progress. "Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before" (Phil 3:13) couldn’t be done without turning his eyes from backwards to upwards.
This was my problem, physically speaking. Things far away could still be seen. The immediate field was a blur. Do we become preoccupied with far-away events, or the possibility of them? The future is a scary place when we attempt to look that far with our human eyes. Maybe that place is filled with loneliness after losing a loved one, fear as we struggle with a long term illness, hurt after a failed relationship, insecurity when unemployment looms, or disappointment as our children make choices which grieve us? The present consequently becomes confused and wasted as we daily stumble towards an uncertain goal.
One of my favourite Bible characters is Jehoshophat. In 2 Chronicles 20:12, when facing a pretty black future of humiliating defeat, enemy occupation, exile and much worse, Jehoshophat said "O Lord... we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee".
In verse 17 he encouraged his terrified subjects:
"Fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you"
We know from Scripture that there followed one of the mightiest deliverances of God’s people.
Jesus recognised that our weak human minds can so often races ahead to meet those problems away down the road. An irritation of these new specs is that when in church, lifting your eyes automatically towards the front can be a little disconcerting! The Bible page is in focus, but anything forward of the pew in front is now a blur! Of course, the Lord wants us to focus on the word He is sending us, not the messenger, but it reminded me of Matthew 6:34. He urges us to "take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof". We are to live one day at a time; we are to ask for the Lord’s strength for the immediate distance, which is in better focus, and make the most of every day. It seems a tall order, but when we "seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness", Jesus promises us that our future needs will be met (Matt 6:33).
Like Jehoshophat, we need to start looking up.
Perhaps we suffer from a touch of this condition also? The Lord has promised to meet our needs on the road ahead, but do we become so fixated on those issues, that we obliviously pass white field after white field along the way? Did God save us from the everlasting punishment we deserved just to trundle along preoccupied with ourselves? Absolutely not! In John 4:35 Jesus told His disciples to "lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest". We are to do likewise. All around us are hurting, desperate people who are spiritually blind, just as we once were. What hope have they if we don’t see their need of Jesus Christ, who alone can save them from their present misery and hopeless end? How difficult it is when those lost souls are hostile, unlovable and ‘just not our type’. Jesus, however, looked at the lost with tenderness and compassion. "So Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes and immediately their eyes received sight and they followed him" (Matt 20:34). We cannot restore their spiritual sight, but we can love them in Jesus’ Name, help them see their need of His forgiveness and point them to salvation through Him. We must learn to see through eyes of compassion and look for the lost.
Physically speaking, this is not in itself a fatal condition. However, when we apply it spiritually, there is none deadlier. Maybe you have never thought of what will happen after you die? Perhaps you reckon that there’s no after-life, or that there is an automatic Heaven for everyone except murderers, child abusers and such like. Unfortunately these are delusions on both counts.
Hebrews 9:27 tells us "and as it is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgement".
In Romans 3:23 we read that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God". No one who fails to turn completely from his present life of sin, no matter how sanitised it may seem, can escape this judgement and subsequent eternity in Hell’s darkness. No matter how charitable, honest, kind or respectable we may have thought we were, all of us were born in sin and the only way out is to "look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:22). You must look to the Lord.
This may be described as perfect vision, humanly speaking, but Jesus’ sight is infinitely more perfect than that. He can see inside breaking hearts, behind false smiles, and down to the depths of our souls. Our all knowing, all seeing, all powerful, ever present God sees and shares our struggles, weaknesses, pain, happiness and joy. He can see our past, present and future. He doesn’t just check on us every now and then: He is watching over us always, for He "shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Ps 121:4). Our church’s motto text for 2003 says:
"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).
God’s focus doesn’t change, but ours does. Even in the middle of a busy day when things are haywire and the devil seems to be working overtime, just looking up to Him, focussing on His majesty and acknowledging His presence for a few seconds can put the surrounding mess in perspective.
My challenge, and perhaps yours, is to fix those eyes firmly on HIM and to trust HIS most perfect vision for my past, present and future – no matter how many pairs of spectacles I need!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Are you SURE that you have your place booked in Heaven? Read this if you're not!