Sunday, September 14, 2008

Let Me See Again

The story of Christ healing the blind man at Bethsaida[1] is a moving one. Especially when I realize just how blind I have been and yet can be.

I have to admit that I’ve spent most of my life blindly looking at the world, looking at life, even my own religious life, conditioned in a way that caused me to focus with a very narrow historical and eternal field of vision. As a result, a lot of that time was spent focusing on ideals and images of my own choosing and making, the logical fruit of those earnest souls that I trusted in my own personal formation as a child and later entrusted to professors and preachers of the Protestant persuasion.

Like any faithful student, I developed and paid close attention to my own set of conditioned preferences and conclusions without regard or consideration for a fuller, more complete, historical picture and presentation of the Truth. Because of this early conditioning, it was easy for the well-intentioned formational dissuasion to create distractions that drew my mind away from an even greater and purer Light that often chooses to manifest itself like the soft and warm glow of a candle rather than as a glaring and brilliant floodlight.

It’s not that I want to see visions or come to some series of personal revelations. I don’t think I’m capable of interpreting or handling such things. There was a time when I thought I was but I’ve come to realize that a lot of what I thought was merely doses of well intentioned self-deception during seasons of seeing things out of focus. Let me see again [2] is the cry of another blind man who encountered Jesus. It is, in a very practical sense, a prayer for the grace to return to the simplicity of a childlike faith that dares to see and trust God in the fullness of his Reality and to view ourselves as totally dependent upon his fullness in light of our own personal incompleteness and need.

I need, more than ever, to be able to see through the clear lenses of faith, hope, and love and pray daily for an increase of these virtues in my life. Any other set of lenses is nothing more than a set of obstacles that hinders seeing clearly. The optical lenses of faith, hope, and love are the only lenses that offer a clear view of the divine ideals that direct our relationships with people and our communion with God.

My eyes need to be continually treated with salve to melt away the cataracts created by selfishness, greed, and pride. As long as these cataracts grow in their effort to cover my eyes there is no need in looking through the finely ground lenses of faith, hope, and love. Selfishness, greed, and pride create a mirror effect that always redirects one’s view back toward their own malformed self. These three unholy cousins are always filled with selfishness. Self-interest will always obscure our vision of God. They interfere with the flow of God’s grace into and then through our lives.

Seeing is necessary in order to remain focused on the Author and Finisher of the faith. I need to be able to see him as he truly is. I need to see him glorified and seated at the right hand of the Father as a reminder that he ever lives and is making intercession for me[3]. I also need to see him brutalized and agonizing in death on the Cross as a result of my sins lest I forget how awful my crimes against him have been and are if I choose to commit them.

I need to be able to see in order to follow him as he leads me to where I am going. I don’t know how to get there on my own. On my own I can’t always discern a clearly defined pathway that meanders through the fields and woods of life. The winds of life cover the pathway with drifts and debris. One day I’m a little too nearsighted. The next day I’m a little too farsighted. Some days I can’t wipe the sleep from my eyes. Other days I’m looking where I ought not. I need eyes that see clearly. I need the sight of others who have already walked this way, those who have already successfully accomplished the journey, the cloud of witnesses[4] whose voices fill the halls of heaven with praise.

No one had to tell Bartimaeus that he was physically blind. His condition was plainly obvious to him and his dire personal need compelled him to cry out for mercy from the Lord. Spiritual blindness isn’t something so obvious. We think we see well enough and think we have no need for anyone to lead us. How can the blind lead the blind?[5] The blind can’t even find their own way along lighted paths.

[1] Mark 8:22-26
[2] Luke 18,35-43
[3] Hebrews 7:25
[4] Hebrews 12:1
[5] Matthew 15:14