I’m in a serious state of denial. I think I’m reaching that “certain age” where mature adults finally admit that they need a little boost with their vision. Somehow, I can’t bring myself to make the trip to the store to buy a pair of reading glasses. I guess it just makes me feel “old.” (If you wear reading glasses, please don’t take that personally, it’s my silly little issue). So, I’ve been compensating by using larger font sizes, squinting, or sneaking to put on my husband’s readers when no one is looking. He came home from work the other day and caught me by surprise as I was writing at the computer. As I turned to greet him, he laughed and said: “You’re busted!!” I’d forgotten to take off his reading glasses. It was a funny, albeit humbling, moment.
I’ve been thinking about vision a lot lately and realizing that besides our physical eyes, God has also given us “spiritual eyes.” And just like my physical vision is in need of a “boost,” we need to give our “spiritual eyes” a boost by asking God to open them for us. I think many people spend a lifetime in spiritual blindness, missing out on all that God is doing in the world around them. I don’t want to be one of those people.
Two of my favorite stories about spiritual vision come from opposite ends of the Bible. One is in 2 Kings 6 and the other is in the book of Acts.
The story in 2 Kings 6:8-23 is about the prophet Elisha. God has given him the divine ability to know the movements of Israel’s enemies in advance so that the Israelites can defend themselves. Verse 10 says, “Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.” Elisha’s ability to discern the enemies’ plans enraged them, so they decided to try and capture him. As the soldiers surrounded the city to close in on Elisha, his servant went into a panic: “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh, my lord, what shall we do?’ the servant asked.”
Elisha responds with complete confidence: “Don’t be afraid… Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then he prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
How cool is that? One minute the servant is quaking in his sandals and the next he sees God’s holy army completely surrounding the enemy and protecting Elijah and him. They were there all the time–he just didn’t have the eyes to see them.
The New Testament “vision” story I love takes place in Acts 9 when Saul is converted on the road to Damascus. As he is on his way to persecute Christians, he encounters a blinding light from heaven accompanied by the voice of Jesus: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Jesus then gives Saul instructions to go to the city and find a specific disciple who will tell him what to do. With the help of his companions, the blinded Saul travels to Damascus where he follows Jesus’ instructions. He meets with a disciple named Ananias, who Jesus sends to heal Saul. Ananias lays his hands on Saul saying “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” The text says: “Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.”
I love that Saul’s physical sight was restored and that the Holy Spirit opened his spiritual eyes at the same time. I love the instant change that occurred in Saul and that his first action was to get baptized as a believer. From that moment on, his entire mission in life went from persecuting Christians to sharing the Good News of Christ.
I wonder, sometimes, if we need to pray for God to open our spiritual eyes a bit wider. Are there things we’re missing because we’ve stopped staying in tune with the Spirit? Are we getting apathetic and failing to look in wonder on God’s creation all around us? Maybe we’ve lost our spiritual eyes to see a world crying out for compassion. Do we realize that the same spiritual army that surrounded Elisha and his servant is at our beck and call? Do we even recognize spiritual battles when they crop up?
I like the way Priscilla Shirer says it: “As believers, our spiritual eyes must detect God’s presence. Once this happens, the opportunity unfolds for us to understand our calling and the vast inheritance we’ve been given to accomplish the tasks before us” (Gideon p.44).
I think it’s challenging to have spiritual eyes in our western culture. We pride ourselves on self-sufficiency. We like to make things safe, comfortable and easy. We have contingency plans and back up scenarios for everything. We’re anesthetizing ourselves constantly with mindless entertainment. We all run the risk of being lulled into letting our vision get fuzzy- kind of like my denial over needing reading glasses (yes, I am wearing my husband’s readers as I type this).
The more I write, the more it reminds me of Gideon’s community. People had lost sight of who God was. They had forgotten His power and His miracles. They stopped worshipping Him and were influenced into worshipping the gods of those in the cultures around them. And it happened in just one generation.
I don’t know about you, but reading that makes me want to ask the Spirit to sharpen my spiritual eyesight. I want to discern where I’m growing lukewarm and letting our world direct my steps instead of God. My prayer through Gideon is “Give me eyes to see you God.”
How about you? Is it time for a spiritual vision check? Time to see where things have gotten a little fuzzy? Are there places where God is opening your eyes in new ways? Make a comment below and tell us about it.
Finally, check out the three attached videos. Each one deals with a slightly different aspect of our “spiritual vision.”
Chris Tomlin’s “Whom Shall I Fear” will focus your “spiritual vision” on God’s hand of protection that surrounds you at all times.
Brandon Heath’s “Give Me Your Eyes” will fix your gaze on God’s heart of compassion and the ways He’s calling you to engage others.
Josh Wilson’s “Behind the Beauty” will remind you to see every aspect of creation as an opportunity to praise God for His incredible handiwork.