November 11, 2013

Blinded to be given better sight

Our son traveled to a third-world country. After what he saw there, he said he would never complain again, and he hasn’t. Some images change your life as they did his, but not all of them have a positive effect. Today we honor those who gave their lives in war, and whose minds are still scarred by war’s images.

A young man in the Old Testament had an experience with such images. He was a servant of the prophet Elisha and terrified by an invading Assyrian army. Elisha saw his fear and prayed, “Lord, open the young man’s eyes that he may see” and God opened his servant’s eyes. He saw the mountain full of the chariots of the Lord. This is the consequence of vision; it reveals what we have not seen before, sometimes scenes of God at work.

It can work the other way too for when the army advanced, Elisha prayed that they would be struck with blindness, and they were. The God of this world can change how a person sees.

Consider the little annoyances of life, those small unkind actions or thoughtlessness of others, and how some people dwell on these until they see nothing else. We had an aunt like that. She “tended and watered all her little grievances until their blossoms would take prizes at a show.” I’ve done it too. Yet through the mercy of God who opens and shuts eyes, those annoyances can vanish, even the larger ones.

Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. (Acts 9:8)

Paul had been persecuting Christians. They annoyed him greatly for he considered their faith was a betrayal of Judaism. Then his eyes were opened. He understood differently and could no longer see any evil in what Christians believed. Seeing good in the Christian faith would come later, but first his negative images were removed.

I’ve struggled with negative images too. In the past, I’ve read books or seen things on television or in real life that have burned pictures into my brain that are not good for my spiritual life. This verse shows me the power of God to not only blind me to those images, but to give me new ones, as He did with Paul.

After he was blinded, Paul’s eyes were opened to the glory of life in Christ. His anger and persecuting vengeance vanished. Because of the love Jesus demonstrated on the cross, Paul could no longer see what had previously enraged him. After this blindness, he soon began to see the love of Christ in God’s people, and he embraced that love, returning it to them in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is an incredible hope. For those who come out of a life filled with negative images, such as the images of war which are so much on our minds today, or images of things I have seen they I should not have witnessed, God can first blind the eyes, then open them to see nothing of that former life. He then can replace those images with good things. Because of His grace and power, that which was sharp and clear yesterday can be not only be blurred, but become totally invisible today.

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