Clarity

Contact lenses are a wonderful thing … when they work. They free us up from wearing/losing/finding our glasses, they often work better than glasses, and they are able to bring our eyes up to 20/20 vision. From hard to soft to disposable, there are a lot of choices.

Wish you had blue eyes? Buy them! Need trifocals? We can do that! Have a condition known as “mono vision,” where one eye sees distance well and the other reads well? Lenses of different strengths can balance that out. Just don’t fall asleep in them or you will wake up thinking that someone put Vaseline on your eyeballs. And don’t wear them on a long airplane ride … the dry air turns them into see-through hockey pucks.

Do you ever wish you could apply 20/20 vision to your spiritual, emotional, or relational vision? In times of confusion, emotional manipulation, distraction, or when you realize you are in a cloud of deception, wouldn’t it be lovely to pop in clarifying contacts and be able to actually see things for what they are?

Fortunately for us, we can access the mind of Christ.

2 Corinthians (NIV)

10 The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for,“Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

Using Christ as a lens through which we see the world brings a wonderful clarity which we could never achieve on our own. The triune nature of God allows us to receive the Holy Spirit in real time. God’s active, alive, and attentive Spirit stays in tune with our spirits and is ready to lead, guide, direct, and correct our vision no matter what we are doing.

We just need to remember to apply it. Like lenses that sit in the box in the medicine cabinet, all the clarifying power of God through the Holy Spirit is useless until we intentionally look for it and look THROUGH it. Discernment comes through prayer, scripture reading, talking with friends and mentors, and sitting quietly in the presence of God and LISTENING.

So open your eyes. Open your mind. Open your heart and invite the Holy Spirit in to show you what is truth. We have received the Spirit of God so that we may understand what God has freely given us. We have the mind of Christ, if we just LOOK for it. The Spirit of God never fogs over or dries out. You can always count on God’s perfect 20/20 vision for your life.

Clarity by Michelle Robertson

On Your Feet

When I was about four years old, I had an accident that almost cost me my sight. My mother was cleaning the wall oven in our kitchen with an Easy-Off product that was very caustic. She was applying it to the open door of the oven with the brush-in-the-lid applicator when I quietly came around the corner and startled her. The brush flicked a gob of oven cleaner straight into my eye, burning my eyeball in an instant.

Mom was amazingly good at thinking on her feet, and grabbed the glass of water I had in my hand and flushed my eye. She then ran me to the tub and flushed out the eye even more, amidst my howls and screams. I think I may have been in more danger of drowning than losing my sight at that point. Then she wrapped me in a towel and ran five blocks with me to our local GP. My father had taken our only car to work that day, and the doctor’s practice was located in an addition to his house.

He filled my eyes with some kind of dye to assess the damage. This is my only memory of the event … the rest of it is only known to me through hearing the story told. I have a clear memory of sitting on his examination table in the dark with my eyes closed. Naturally I had kept them shut as much as possible during the entire ordeal, with my right eye feeling as though it was on fire. They had to cajole me into opening them, and when I finally did, the darkened room was a lovely shade of blue, due to the dye. The doctor was using an ophthalmoscope, moving it back and forth to assess the damage. As I looked at my mother’s anxious face, haloed in blue, I said to her, ”Mommy! You are so pretty in blue!” Thus they knew that my sight had survived the ordeal. I got my lollipop and we walked home.

Sight, in all of its many forms, is a precious thing.

Today’s passage tells the story of a blind man who is healed by Jesus, Son of David:

Mark 10 (New International Version)

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

This an interesting detail that Mark thoughtfully included. This entire community knew the man. He sat in the same place every day, begging for enough coins to sustain him. And yet the minute he has a chance to be healed, they shushed him.

Sometimes society likes to keep its status quo by silencing those who sit at the bottom of the class structure . The hungry, the poor, the disabled, the homeless, the immigrant, the mentally ill … aren’t we guilty of looking the other way and just wishing they wouldn’t bother us?

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

This is exactly what we are meant to do as well. Call over the ones who are hurting. Call over the ones who need help. Call over the ones who need JESUS.

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

Again, Mark blesses us with detail. Don’t you love it when they say to the blind man, ”Cheer up!”? What a happy moment. They know what is coming. They know the next part of the story. They know what their savior can do.

Do you?

And don’t miss the detail of the man throwing his cloak aside. It is very probable that this is this man’s only possession. Think about that! Would you be willing to give up every thing you owned to have an encounter Jesus? The rich young ruler couldn’t. (Mark 10:17-31)

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Perhaps the greatest teaching in this passage is found in the newly-sighted man’s response. The minute he finally saw Jesus, he followed him.

Can you see Jesus actively working in your life? Do you need to be healed? Would you give up everything to follow him?

As we ponder these things today, may God grant us wisdom and insight into everything he is doing in our lives.

Open your eyes! Jesus is calling.

Miracles Around Us by Bev Mineo

Are you looking for a Christmas devotional book? Check this out!

Brightness Shines Forth

We continue our journey into wisdom literature with a deep dive into the Old Testament book of the Wisdom of Solomon. Biblegateway.com offers this introduction to this unique book:

One of the main lessons of Wisdom of Solomon is that retribution and reward are not necessarily received in the present life but are to be realized in the afterlife of the immortal soul. The Encyclopedia of the Bible says the book teaches that immortality, not material abundance, is the goal of the righteous, and one of the author’s contributions was the inauguration of an “other-worldly” perspective hitherto lacking in Judaism. The author also taught that individual righteousness is requisite for the enjoyment of blessing in the after-life of the soul.

Chapter 7 is probably one of the most exquisite examples of poetry in all of the Old Testament. In this passage, wisdom is again personified as a woman with special qualities. As you read it, try to make a word-picture in your mind. For those of us who are blessed to live on the coast, the images of bright suns, the arrangement of the stars, and the night following day speak directly to where we live.

What images do you see as you read this?

Wisdom of Solomon 7 (Common English Bible)

26 She’s the brightness that shines forth from eternal light. She’s a mirror that flawlessly reflects God’s activity. She’s the perfect image of God’s goodness. 27 She can do anything, since she’s one and undivided. She never changes, and yet she makes everything new. Generation after generation, she enters souls and shapes them into God’s friends and prophets.

There was no concept of the Holy Spirit at the time of this writing. It is easy for New Testament readers to make a connection between wisdom ”entering souls and shaping them into God’s friends and prophets” and the pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit coming to the disciples. Perhaps we can view this as a precursor to what Jesus left behind as he was departing the earth.

28 God doesn’t love anything as much as people who make their home with Wisdom. 29 She’s more splendid than the sun and more wonderful than the arrangement of the stars. She’s even brighter than sunlight, 30 for night follows day, but evil can never overcome Wisdom.

8 She stands strong from one end of the world to the other. She is a marvelous governor over everything in between.

Solomon held wisdom in very high esteem. I think it is important to realize that wisdom in his mind was not so much about gaining knowledge as it was attaining righteousness. That changes things. It invites us to read the scriptures not so much for information, but for transformation.

Where is God calling you to transform your life today? What changes is he asking you to make?

Wisdom never changes, but it has the ability to make everything new. May we seek her, and make our home with her. Evil can never overcome Wisdom….thanks be to God!

Sunrise Seekers by Michelle Robertson

Snap Judgement

In Malcolm Gladwell’s marvelous book Blink, he shares a story of a statue sold to the Getty Museum for ten million dollars. The museum spent fourteen months authenticating the statue. It met every standard of a sixth century BC kourous, a Greek statue of a nude boy standing with his left foot forward and his hands to his side. Less than 200 kouroi exist today, and most are in very poor condition.

The statue went on display and a group of museum experts from around the world were invited to the opening. Suddenly, there was a problem. It didn’t “look right” to some of the guests. An Italian art historian who served on the Getty’s board of trustees, a foremost expert on Greek sculpture, and the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York all agreed that something was “off” with the sculpture.

It was sent to Athens for further authentication, and immediately experts there had the same reaction. George Despinis, the head of the Acropolis Museum in Athens, said that he thought it was a fake because when he first saw it, he felt an “intuitive repulsion.”

Further testing was done…it turned out that the statue was a fake.

Gladwell calls the ability to make a snap judgement “adaptive unconscious.” He points out that our intuitive response to things, and how we come to a conclusion with little information in the first seconds of seeing something, is a gift we have but don’t use. I bet you’ve been in a situation where a truth is finally revealed and your first thought was, “I KNEW something was wrong!” Yet for some reason, you diverted your mind away from seeing the reality in front of you. Adaptive unconscious is a God-given ability that we somehow don’t trust.

As God reminded Job, the gift of insight comes from God alone:

Job 38:35-38 Living Bible (TLB)

36 “Who gives intuition and instinct? 37-38 Who is wise enough to number all the clouds? Who can tilt the water jars of heaven, when everything is dust and clods?”

And Paul encourages us to seek God’s gift of spiritual knowledge and insight:

Philippians 1 Living Bible (TLB)

9 My prayer for you is that you will overflow more and more with love for others, and at the same time keep on growing in spiritual knowledge and insight, 10 for I want you always to see clearly the difference between right and wrong, and to be inwardly clean, no one being able to criticize you from now until our Lord returns.

I think we see, and then don’t want to see, so we look away. I have done this. I saw signs and symptoms of a problem that didn’t immediately add up. My gut told me one thing, but I couldn’t see what I was seeing. I was manipulated into a state of unbelief until the truth was revealed, and I realized, “I KNEW something was wrong.” I wish I had trusted my adaptive unconscious response and allowed God to show me the truth sooner. It might have averted some genuine pain later.

I think God calls us to a higher knowledge. I think God equips us with a Holy Spirit-informed insight. I think we look away because it’s too painful to see what is right in front of us.

What is staring you in the face right now that you are refusing to see? Where is God sending you signals and signs of warning? What is the truth you refuse to acknowledge?

Allowing God to speak truth by the power of the Holy Spirit through your insight will enable you to clearly see the difference between right and wrong, and to be inwardly clean. So open your eyes. Open your mind. Keep on growing in spiritual knowledge and insight. And don’t blink.

Fall Moon by Mary Anne Mong Cramer.