OPENING OUR EYES
I wear glasses because I’m nearsighted. I can see just fine up close; I can read a book without my glasses, no problem. The farther things are away from me, however, the blurrier and more out of focus they get. I found out I needed glasses when I started driving. Soon after getting my license, my parents let me drive by myself to church on a Wednesday night; it was about five or six minutes from my house and it would be dark when I left. This was the first time I had ever driven at night, and also the first time I realized something was wrong with my vision.
I turned out of the church building, started driving, and noticed that all of the lights: the streetlights, the traffic lights, other cars’ headlights, looked just a little blurry, and altogether they started to look a lot blurry. I had a hard time seeing the white lines in the middle of the road. I couldn’t read the names of the streets until I was right up next to the signs. It was a nerve-wracking experience.
I managed to make it home that night just fine. But I knew something wasn’t right about my eyesight and that what I’d just experienced wasn’t normal. You know what I did about it, though? Nothing. I began to tell myself that it was probably not that big of a deal, that next time I drove at night it would probably be easier. I convinced myself that if I said something to my parents they would just worry and probably not let me drive anymore until I got my eyes checked, and I had just gotten my license! So I basically pretended that it never happened. Until of course the next time I drove at night it happened again. And then I tried to drive home from a friend’s house on roads I wasn’t really familiar with and got lost because I missed a turn. I couldn’t read the street signs. When I did finally get home, my parents naturally wanted to know why I was so late.
So finally, when I had no other choice, I told my parents I thought I needed to see an eye doctor. Sure enough, I ended up getting glasses. The glasses, of course, took care of the problem, and now I could see straight. I’ve worn them ever since. But I’ll never forget how even though I knew I couldn’t see straight, I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t see straight. Even though I knew that if I admitted it, it would take care of the problem and I would see better. And even crazier, all of those rationalizations made some kind of weird sense while I was caught up in thinking that way, even though deep down I knew it was ridiculous.
We do the same thing with God, don’t we? If we aren’t following Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we get turned upside down, life gets blurry, and we can’t see straight. When we don’t see him as we should, when we run from him and his Word, we get to where we don’t see ourselves as we should, and we don’t see others as we should, and we don’t see life in general as we should.
If we’re believers not following our Savior, one part of us almost certainly knows how wrong we are, how ridiculous we’re acting, how if we would just admit to him that our sight was off he would bring things back into focus. But too often we don’t want to admit that. We don’t want to turn back to him. “God, why won’t you leave me in peace, and just let go my own way?” We can become so blind that we’d rather die saying “peace, peace” when there is no peace, rather than live in God’s peace. We go the way of Jonah, running and running, as far as we can.
Yet Jesus is all about restoring sight to the blind, to bringing life back into focus, to helping us once again see straight. God did this with Jonah, and he does it with us. God in his grace and love never gives up on us. He pursues. He keeps on surrounding us until we hear his voice, and run back to him again, into the loving arms of our Father. And if we run with shame he gently says, “no, no, Jesus took your shame.” If we quake with guilt or lament that we’ve run so far or it took so long to come back, he gently reminds us that Jesus took our guilt.
When we come back to God and tell him we need help seeing, he’ll always tell us who we really are, who we were made and saved in Christ to be. In Christ, you are a beloved daughter. In Christ, you are a beloved son. Our father’s response to repentance is always, “put on your glasses, I love you, you’re home, let’s live like it.”