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On the Side - May 2012

New Eyes
by Sharon Chatwell

“Seeing is Believing,” or so they say. I had an opportunity to prove this truism lately. This year I had to break down and get glasses. Not “readers”, mind you, “real glasses” because evidently my lifelong perfect vision wasn’t perfect anymore. Needless to say, my 50+ years of 20/20 pride did not want to make the trip down to the optometrist.

“How much do I have to wear them?” I wondered out loud one night at home. “How much do you want to see?” responded Rick, my husband of several light-years. He made me laugh. In typical MD fashion, he had cut right to the heart of the matter and summed it all up in one sentence.

How much did I want to see? Or, in other words, what was I willing to put up with in order to see better? How did it end up? You guessed it… I got the glasses. And of course, I was immediately amazed at all I’d been missing. Now I wouldn’t be without them.

I remember when one of our younger sons got his first pair of glasses years ago. As we drove home from the eyewear store he kept moving the new lenses back and forth in front of his eyes. Suddenly I realized he was crying. “Mommy,” he said, “I didn’t realize we were supposed to be able to see all the leaves on the trees.” I felt terrible. It had taken us months to realize that he was having problems seeing at school. (More 20/20 pride, I guess.)

Of course, there are lots of stories of people regaining their sight or having it improved. Cataract surgery for the elderly sometimes brings almost miraculous visual improvement overnight. One of our friends recently had this procedure done. His remarks to me were “The biggest change is in the colors. They are all brighter now. I’d almost forgotten.”

Once, a long time ago, a man who had been born blind found himself in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw that the man was blind, He spat on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put the mud on the man’s eyes. (I love this story because to me it’s the best example ever of returning an item to the manufacturer for repair. Here we find God, the Creator of all things, fixing man, part of His creation, with some of the original production material… Dirt.)

When Jesus told the man to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam, he did so and came home seeing. This same man would later tell the Pharisees, “I was blind, but now I see.”

While physical blindness is one thing, spiritual blindness is quite another. “There are none so blind as those who will not see” – another truism. Recently a friend of mine asked me to help her answer some questions put to her by a non-believer, who described himself as an atheist. My friend wanted to help him see the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but was unsure how to begin the conversation with someone who doubted even God’s existence.

I wondered about it for a while and then thought of these verses in the Bible, which have to do with one of the most basic and worldwide witnesses of the existence of God. Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. And Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Sometimes we may not want to believe in the existence of God. There are many reasons why. Perhaps the world seems easier, or somehow more manageable without Him. I, myself, went through a very dark period of time when I did not want God to be there. I was afraid I had irretrievably offended Him, so for a while I tried to pretend he did not exist; as if my pretending could somehow make it true.

It was a ridiculous period of time. I felt as if I was running around with my eyes closed tight and my fingers in my ears shouting “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!” It took an incredible amount of energy to keep it up all the time. And, of course, I was wrong. The testimony of Creation is too obvious and too loud not to see and (even) hear.

We wonder if we will see: If we will even take the chance to look. Is our pride so huge that we cannot bring ourselves to admit that our vision may not be perfect, all by ourselves?

In the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

That’s what Jesus did for me. When I finally admitted that He was real, when I summoned the courage to tell Him that I just couldn’t believe in Him enough, and while I waited for Him to strike me down in righteous anger, all I heard in my heart was Jesus gently saying: “I knew you couldn’t believe enough, and that’s why I had to come for you.”

It was as if the scales fell off my eyes and for the first time I could see. God was there. Jesus had come to the earth. He died in my place. And He did so not in spite of my sin and failure, but because of it… saving me and, of course, saving many, many others as well.

My own story is one of a blind person who now sees. And just like with my new glasses, I can now see everything better with my New Eyes.

May we all throw off our pride, our sin, and everything that hinders us, so that we too may run to Jesus and receive our sight. That way each of us may sing with joy the words found in the wonderful, old hymn, Amazing Grace: “I once was lost, but now I’m found, Was blind, but now I see.”

Sharon is a physician spouse living in Lincoln, Nebraska. She is now very happy with her new eyes and her new glasses. She is also happy to report that she recently got a new pair of glasses that help her focus just on her computer screen… which she hopes will help improve her writing!