Open the Eyes of Our Hearts

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart!
I want to see you.
I want to see you.

I can’t recall the first time I sang that contemporary praise song, but I will always remember the clarity that it brought to me as I sang it. Praise songs are often criticized for being simple and repetitive, but others would say that is exactly the point. Repeating a phrase in music is a way to ensure that the meaning takes hold in your mind and in your heart. Repetition is a technique that helps a concept to be easily remembered. Do you remember singing the ABC song? I rest my case.

In this simple chorus, we ask the Holy Spirit to come and open “the eyes of our hearts” in order to see, know, and experience God more fully and more completely. The juxtaposition of heart and eyes is clever in the way that it encourages us to make a visual connection between being open to God’s presence and thus seeing him in his complexity. I think the challenge is to see God in the world around us….in the circumstances, places, and the people in our purview.

Where do you see God today? Where is he active in your daily routine?

It’s interesting to remember that this is exactly what Paul prayed for his beloved church in Ephesus. He longed for them to see God with the eyes of their hearts, too.

Ephesians 1 (Common English Bible)

15 Since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, this is the reason that 16 I don’t stop giving thanks to God for you when I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that makes God known to you. 

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers, 19 and what is the overwhelming greatness of God’s power that is working among us believers. This power is conferred by the energy of God’s powerful strength. 

Note that when he lists the things we will see in our hearts, hope is the first thing mentioned. The hope of God’s call, his glorious inheritance, the greatness of his power, and the power of his strength are things that we see when we open the eyes of our hearts.

What do you need to see today? Have your circumstances clouded your vision? Has abuse, depression, addiction, despair, or hopelessness blinded you to God’s activity in your midst?

It happens. Those are the times when we need to blink away distractions and focus on what happened when Christ died on the cross.

20 God’s power was at work in Christ when God raised him from the dead and sat him at God’s right side in the heavens, 21 far above every ruler and authority and power and angelic power, any power that might be named not only now but in the future.

Christ is far above anything that distresses us today. He is stronger than any stronghold, deeper than any well of sorrow, higher than any artificial high, mightier than any words of condemnation, and more powerful than the evil one who would love to keep his hands firmly pressed against your eyes in order to blind you to the reality of God’s mercy and grace.

Open the eyes of your heart, and you will see God. He is in every circumstance…just keep looking.

Open the Eyes of My Heart by Brand Honeycutt

Periphery

Do you belong to a church?

Do you love your church?

This pandemic has wreaked havoc with church-goers and their pastors. When we all built our churches, we had no thought that keeping people six feet apart would ever be necessary. We squeezed out every square inch of space and allocated it for classrooms, adequate fellowship halls, and as many pews as we could fit into a sanctuary. Even our hallways are the minimum width required for the amount of people we expect in the building.

Loving your church may be a bit challenging right now. You may be weary of watching your pastor sitting at his/her dining room table, talking into an iPhone. You may be frustrated when the sound is bad and the feed freezes. You probably miss the people who normally sit around you every Sunday. (Come on, now! We know that you sit in the same place every week and have gotten to know them…hahaha!)

We get it. We miss “us,” too. Until our ecclesiastical leaders, our government leaders, doctors, scientists, and our pastoral teams feel comfortable about your safety, we will likely be “open, but un-gathered” a little while longer. Be kind to your church leadership. They are likely losing more sleep over this than you are.

Paul loved his churches. He planted them all over the known world, and kept in touch with them by letter. In his letter to his people in Ephesus, he tells them how thankful he is for their witness and their outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus.

Ephesians 1 The Message

15-19 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks.

Paul’s love for them turned into a constant prayer that God would help them discern and be smart in their pursuit of Christ, and help them manage the wonderful life to which God has called them. His churches were engaged in the “utter extravagance” of God’s work, and he prayed for their energy and strength:

But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

Paul was very clear that while he had planted these churches, Christ was the head. Christ has the final word on everything, and rules the church:

20-23 All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.

At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.

Did you catch that part about the church not being peripheral to the world? “The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world. The world is peripheral to the church.”

So what the world is doing doesn’t influence the church, nor should it. The church is Christ’s body, and it influences the world.

So as we wait to re-gather in our sanctuaries, remember this scripture. Let us take on Paul’s teaching and PRAY FOR (and not prey on) our church leaders.

Pray with thanksgiving for their outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus.

Pray that God would make them intelligent and discerning.

Pray that God would keep their eyes focused and clear.

Pray for endless energy and boundless strength.

Pray that they would experience the presence of Christ, who rules the church.

Are you praying for your Pastor? We sure could use it.

Oregon Inlet Wreck by Kami Trusz

Binocularvision

Binoculars are fascinating. Heavy and clunky, they contain a series of lenses and prisms that capture light and image, flip them around, and bring them to the eyes with clarity and a close-up view that is impossible to the naked eye.

In case you are curious about the science of binoculars, read this from https://www.explainthatstuff.com/binoculars.html:

Binoculars are simply two telescopes side by side, one for each eye. But there’s a catch. When light rays from a distant object pass through a convex lens, they cross over. That’s why distant things sometimes look upside down if you look at them through a magnifying glass. The second lens doesn’t sort out that problem. So binoculars have a pair of prisms (large wedges of glass) inside them to rotate the image through 180 degrees. One prism rotates the image through 90 degrees (flips it onto its side), then the next prism rotates it through another 90 degrees (flips it onto its side again), so the two prisms effectively turn it upside down. The prisms can either be arranged in a back-to-back arrangement (known as roof prisms) or at 90 degrees (known as Porro prisms).

Are we clear now?

All I know is that owning a pair of binoculars on the Outer Banks is almost essential. There are many times when I see something in the water, or across the harbor at the club house that needs a closer look, and my handy binoculars do the trick. Our clubhouse parking area is the local heliport for emergencies, and I have observed several take-offs and landings there. It takes a moment to focus the binoculars, but then everything is clear.

Ephesians 1 (The Message)

15-19 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks.

But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

This prayer that Paul lifted up for his friends in Ephesus is one we should continue today. We should ask God to make us intelligent and discerning. We should ask him to help us know him personally. Especially today, we ask that our eyes are focused and clear enough to see EXACTLY what it is he is calling us to do.

This is my prayer for you. You have a calling. You have a divine appointment! May God grant you binocularvision so that you might see and know your calling in the world. May he grant you clarity of sight so that you know without a doubt what actions you should take, what words you should utter, and what step to take next. Focus in! He will show you the way.

I can’t stop thanking God for you.

Up close and personal.