“We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.(2 Corinthians 4:18)
I’ve shared before that this blog is not only a personal devotional experience, but also a way to “start-up” my writing engine for the day. Part of that involves airing out and practicing some of the content I’ll be including in an article, the chapter of a book, or a talk later – kind of a “throwing ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks” exercise.
So, first of all, if you’re a regular reader then “Thanks” for helping me with my work as a writer.
Today, for example:
- the bulk of my time will be spent editing/rewriting a couple of chapters from my new book;
- plus I’ll be preparing for a conference I’m key-noting this weekend;
- and then there’s my Men’s Room small group this evening.
- Additionally, I’m in serious conversation with a state-wide website that is considering a permanent link to this blog. Interestingly, that conversation is (unintentionally) subtly affecting my content even today.
The scripture I cited this morning fits in exactly with a chapter I’m wrestling with in the book. The title is “Clarity”, and I’m discussing how the gift of faith helps us to see more clearly. I make the observation that, even though my eyes are not so sharp any more and I have to wear progressive lenses, and even though the acuity of my hearing is evidently compromised and I have a hard time having conversations in crowded restaurants… “I swear I’ve never seen things this clearly before in my life; and I’ve never before heard with the level of clarity that I do now.”
“We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”
So how do we look at “what cannot be seen” unless we’re willing to look with new eyes? And what does it mean – practically speaking – to open the eyes of our hearts?
I believe that, in the simplest of terms, this is not such a great mystery. I think it’s more a matter of removing the blinders that inhibit our sight. It’s not so much that seeing God clearly is unnatural as that seeing God is the most natural thing in the world.
What’s unnatural is:
- the way we walk around with our eyes cast down,
- the way we live with blinders strapped to the sides of our heads,
- the way we view the world with dark glasses glued over our eyes when what we really need is to let the light flow in,
- our insistence that God conform to our narrow-minded nearsightedness… when what Jesus calls for is that we become willing to look up, to look beyond ourselves, and step purposefully into belief.
It’s as if our own arrogance and prejudice has the (spiritual) gravitational pull of a black hole that sucks all imagination, wonder, creativity, and clarity of vision back into our own orbit. To the effect that we can’t see anything beyond the walls we have erected, and the limited reasoning we employ, and the preconceptions and predeterminations we impose – on both the people around us and the scope of our god (lower-case “g” intended)…
Look! see what you did by allowing me to think out loud this early in the morning. Thanks, friends!
“Do you still not perceive or understand?” Jesus said, “Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember?” (Mark 8:17-18).
Hmm. To arrogance and prejudice I’d add fear and skepticism – and they do overlap, don’t they? I’m thinking about the dwarves in the Last Battle who refused to be taken in. Sitting in Aslan’s Country with all its bounty and beauty they were able to convince themselves they were still in a donkey’s barn. “Dwarves are for the dwarves,” they kept saying. Nothing Aslan could do could open their eyes to the reality that was all around them.
How’s that chorus go? “Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Jesus.”
“Open the eyes of my heart, Lord – Open the eyes of my heart – I want see you, I want to see you….”
You wrote, “It’s not so much that seeing God clearly is unnatural as that seeing God is the most natural thing in the world.” I agree with you 100%. A big problem, however, is that the illustrations you provide, e.g., downcast eyes, blinders, dark glasses, are all obvious, and it would seem plain that anyone would see the error. But just about nobody does. Perhaps a more apt metaphor is “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” except that in this case the little boy (Jesus?) looked around and noticed that NO ONE was wearing any clothes. I don’t want to push that metaphor too hard because it gets us back to the Garden of Eden where “everybody,” i.e., Adam and Eve, was without clothing. But you see where I am going.
You are right, Charles – it’s typically the more subtle constructions that have the most pervasive effect…