“Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” Luke 24:31 NIV
I had put off going to the opticians for ages, despite the fact my vision had gone blurry at times and I had had a few headaches; I was anxious they were going to tell me there was something medically wrong, so I just didn’t go. (I know- I am the queen of procrastination and burying my head in the sand- it’s something I am working on!)
A company sent me a letter telling me I was due an eye test, so I eventually plucked up the courage and went. All was fine, but I was lambasted by the optician who told me I hadn’t been for nearly 5 years (!) and that my prescription had changed. She issued me some new glasses, and warned me that wearing them would seem strange at first. When I collected the new glasses a few days later, I tried them on in the shop, but didn’t notice any difference. It wasn’t until I went outside that I noticed the difference. Everything suddenly seemed so much clearer, closer and sharper; people felt like they were looming close to me and I found it difficult to judge the distance of objects. It was a really surreal experience!
Seeing through those new glasses reminded me of the new vision that God gives us through the Holy Spirit. When we are in a comfortable, secure environment, like church, it seems normal and safe, but it is only once we go out into the world and we can see, that any dangers that seemed to be our focus before can be put into perspective. The new glasses changed my perspective: things which had seemed further away, without my new glasses, suddenly appeared to be in the forefront of my vision when I put them on. And so it is when you become a Christian, things that seemed like a huge problem in your life can begin to pale into insignificance, and issues which seemed insurmountable, eventually shrink to problems which can be solved with God’s help. I no longer have the eye problems that I had experienced, when I am wearing my new glasses, but I have to keep wearing them. My enhanced vision will only last as long as I wear my glasses. When I take them off, I won’t suddenly start seeing with perfect 20/20 vision. So it is with our faith. This is exactly how our problems and fears can seem when we don’t take them to God and ask him to work in them, and us. When we take our eyes of Jesus and put them back on our problems, our faulty, blurry vision will return. If you are a Christian, it is impossible to see clearly apart from Jesus.
God isn’t a vending machine style God who we should just expect to fix our problems then leave us alone. Once you let Jesus into your life, he will permeate every area of our lives- whether that was our initial intention or not- because he loves us enough to want to change us for the better.
Sight is a recurring theme in the bible. We are told stories of Jesus healing the blind (Mark 8:22-25, John 9, Luke 18 and Matthew 9) and we are also told to ‘walk by faith and not by sight’. (2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV)
The Holy Spirit also gives us a chance to see God more clearly at work in our lives. God has always been there working in us, it might just be that because we have had the wrong prescription on our glasses, our vision has been more fixed on our problems or fears. As Christians, once we’ve been given our new (faith) glasses, we can begin to see more clearly where God is at work in our lives, and it will also make it easier to see the areas that we perhaps have kept hidden away from God, and need to surrender to him. On the other hand, it may simply be easier to see a new direction that God is taking us in. Rather than focusing on what’s wrong in our lives, and how that is impeding us from moving forward properly, with new glasses, our vision can be readjusted to focus on Jesus, and see him at work more clearly. This makes me imagine God as being like an all powerful optician.
In the bible, God is given several names which reflect the character traits he exhibits to different people. One of these names, EL Roi means ‘the God who sees me’. God always sees us, even when our vision is faulty and we can’t focus properly on him, or when we are in the depths of darkness. However, he doesn’t want us to keep living in this way. Just like during an eye test, when the optician asks you to wear a test frame and tries out different lenses and asks you to read letter charts to test the strength of lenses that each eye needs, God can allow us to go through tests and trials to reshift our focus, strengthen our faith, and ensure that our vision is the best it can be.
There is a Jimmy Nash song that came to mind while I was writing this, which says, ‘I can see clearly now the rain has gone/ I can see all the obstacles in my way/ Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind/ It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright sunshiny day.
Recently, we celebrated Easter, and part of that Easter story is when Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples, although they did not immediately recognise him. Most of us will know the story of Doubting Thomas, who refused to believe that Jesus had risen until he saw his scars first hand. It was also following his resurrection that Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would be with them, as they went out and spread the gospel. “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49 NIV
Click here to listen to a song about being able to see once eyes have been opened:
Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin