My Dad once knew a man who could “see” oil underground. He was not crazy and his unique gift was repeatedly tested and verified. In fact, various oil company operations in South Central Kansas considered him quite reliable.
Obviously, there are many levels and dimensions of sight. For example, my cat will lie in my lap when I am reading. He sees the black marks on the white page, but he doesn’t see what I see. I may step into the cockpit of a 747, but I would have no greater understanding of the vast electronic panels than my cat has of the written page.
“What do you see?” is one of the life’s most important questions.
The actual physiology of sight – light passing through the cornea, pupil and lens and then striking the retina – is only a small part of how we see. We cannot interpret the light and patterns of our environment without the symphony of all our faculties. Everything we see passes through the filters of our life experiences, emotional and physical health, beliefs, fears, yearnings, education, special training and attitudes.
That is why various people can look at anything – a computer chip, an explosion or a baby sonogram – and have vastly different interpretations of what they see.
Was Blind, but Now I See
John Newton’s timeless hymn, “Amazing Grace,” contains one of the greatest and most famous lyrical lines in history: “was blind, but now I see.” Those six simple words describe the mysterious transforming power of God’s revealed truth. That is what happens when God’s revelation brings a new way of seeing. By comparison, we can only honestly say “I was blind.”
That “blindness to sight” process might arrive through illness, injury, grief or even exterior phenomena – like being struck by lightning or taking a bullet in the brain. Whatever the catalyst, from that moment on people see life differently. It is like finding “Superman” eyes; they can see right through various distractions or issues and bore into truth which remains hidden to others.
I recently endured my own was-blind-but now-I-see experience. When it was over, I saw my wife through new eyes.
God’s “eye surgery” lasted about two hours in the pre-dawn darkness of March 6, 2008. After my wife Joanne’s long and very serious illness, I became certain that she was dying. Based on what I knew, I became convinced that she was slipping into the last stages of organ failure.
Because of my certainty of her imminent death – which, thank God, was an illusion – the way I viewed her passed through a radical transformation. And, the way I viewed myself experienced even greater change; I saw clearly how I had failed to cherish, support, and nurture her as God intended. Although we have a wonderful marriage, God pulled me up to a much higher standard of maleness, fatherhood and “husbandry” – His!
Obviously, I had to repent.
The Higher View
God’s eye surgery not only changed the way I see and relate to my wife, but it also raised another “what do you see” issue: Why can we not see people as they really are before they die? Our view of the living – friends, family, neighbors, and even public figures – always seems to be a mixed bag of thoughts and judgments. But, the moment they die, our view of them – as revealed in funerals – becomes profoundly gracious and much higher.
So, is it possible to ascend to that higher view before they die?
Perhaps the larger question is how do we find the higher view – or “new eyes” – on life in general? In Isaiah 55:9, God said, “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways…”
Very often, what we see is a matter of elevation. When we get tangled in the underbrush of deep valleys we end up feeling threatened or overwhelmed by very small issues. I am always amazed at how different everything looks simply by climbing to higher ground – physically, spiritually, relationally, emotionally and in many other ways.
And, that is true regardless of the specific issues. For example, many Christians feel threatened by political and social issues. Of course, we should be civic-minded, responsible and prayerful. But, we should always approach the public arena from a victorious position, not a fearful or despairing one. After all, the ultimate outcome is not tentative or fragile.
In fact, the Psalmist said that God sits in the heavens, “laughing” at the futile strategies against Him and His people! (Psalms 2: 1 – 4) Part of the reason He laughs is that He is sitting in a high and unassailable place. And, He invites us to sit there with Him.
In the series which follows, we will examine together some of the crucial areas and challenges of life. We will look at things like our own familial relationships – spouses, parents, children, siblings, co-workers and neighbors.
We will examine ways to view our own heritage – even the uncle who was a horse thief – in a more positive way.
And, yes, we will look at how to victoriously navigate the political and social issues of our time.
You are invited to write to me – [email protected] – to ask questions, share your own experiences or challenge what I’ve said. Perhaps our “conversation” will help all of us to gain new eyes.
When we’re finished, you may not be able to see oil underground, but perhaps you will see the buried treasure lying just below the surface of your life.