Sunday, March 11, 2007
"Whadda YOU lookin' at?!"
When I was a child, this was the most frequently asked question in the playground power games that little girls play. The question was asked in a way that was meant to be intimidating … if you were unintimidated, you would come back with a variety of answers including:
“Not you, that’s for sure!”
or … the real zinger …
“I dunno – can’t you make it out either ?!”
The ability to look or see is perhaps one of the most important gifts God has given us. The ability to look ahead separates child from adult. It is the thing that will keep our lives on track as well.
Several summers ago, I had custom lasik on my eyes. It has been an amazing gift. My vision was so bad that if I was looking at an eye chart, I would be squinting on everything below the big E. What do I love about Lasik? Well, I love waking up in the morning, looking out the window and seeing the beautiful leaves on the trees and the detail etched on each one. I love walking in the rain with my head up (rather than staring at the ground so I don’t get rain on my glasses). I love walking in and out of shops in the summer and being able to flip my sunnies up on my head instead of opening my bag, pulling out one case, putting away my sunnies, opening another case and pulling out my glasses and then repeating the whole sad performance when going outside. I love not driving my car in the summer time with ski goggles! (I kid you not. When I could not afford prescription sunglasses, and my eyes could not cope with the bright New Zealand sun, ski goggles provided relief as they fitted over the top of my glasses! They were also fantastic for pulling up at traffic lights and staring into the car parallel … :) ) The freedom I have now is wonderful.
20/20 vision is not a gift I take lightly. Sometimes our vision can become clouded without us being aware. As glasses were very expensive, I did not replace mine too often. The last time I had new glasses, was (no pun intended here!) a real eye opener for me. I went to the university to get tested. At the end of my eye exam, the girl took my glasses out to put them on a machine and get the prescription. She was consulting with her supervisor and left me to sit alone with my thoughts in the exam room. These were rudely shattered, as I heard a very loud American voice exclaiming in disgust and saying, “people that let their glasses get like this, shouldn’t have them!” As I continued to listen, I realised, “that’s ME. He is talking about MY glasses.” I was a little bit ticked off. Thought no more of it until I got my new glasses. I was given them at home group and my friends were all about me putting them on asap. However, new glasses are always scary things when you change them every 8 – 10 years! (You try a radical change on YOUR face after looking at the same thing in the mirror everyday for 10 years). So later that night, when I got home, I sat up in my bed and tried them on. I couldn’t believe it. Not only was everything sharper … it was also clear and crisp. I thought, “this can’t be.” So I put on my old glasses and it was literally as if a fog came down in the room.
I pulled them off and looked closer. They were so scratched and battered, I could no longer see without looking through a haze. This had happened gradually and I had lived with it for so long that I assumed this was normality. What a great analogy for life. Every now and then we need to stop and get a vision check up. Sometimes we will be surprised at how clouded our vision has become.
Spiritually speaking, God tells us he will give us dreams and visions. How many of us take the time to allow ourselves to dream. I once heard Joyce Meyers say, “when did you last use your imagination for God exalted things?” I come back to my original question: “what are YOU looking at?” Matthew 6:22-23 tells us, “the eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”
Lets break down that scripture. The word lamp comes from the greek “ophthalmos” which refers to sharpness of vision. Metaphorically it speaks of the eyes of the mind and the faculty of knowing. Interestingly it comes from the same root word “ophis” from which we get serpent. To the ancient greeks, the serpent was the emblem of cunning and wisdom and also was an early symbol of the devil.
What an interesting link … our eyes are our faculty of knowing and this is one of the biggest ways temptation comes to us. Not just through the obvious visual temptations like pornography but also through more subtle ways such as wrong focus and allowing our vision to be filled with things that take us away from walking closely with God. These things might be resentment, envy, a love of comfort, materialism, hurt, injustice. Pretty much anything that becomes our primary focus.
“Full of light” – comes from “photeinos” which means of bright character and well lit.
“Darkness” – comes from “skotos” which means darkened eyesight or blindness. Metaphorically it refers to ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, accompanying godlessness.
One last story that helps tie all this together. Shirley Carpenter shared this at church one Sunday and it bears repeating. When she was a child, she used to play out on the street with her friends. Her Mum would tell her, “be home before its dark”. Basically, if the street lamps came on, she was home too late. She would be playing and playing and then she would hear a whistle from her Mum. She would go home and say, “it’s not dark yet. Why are you calling me home?” Her Mum would point out the window and she would be shocked at how dark it had gotten. The problem was that just like my glasses, the change was so gradual she did not notice. Her vision was diminishing and she was unaware.
Hows your vision? Let me restate my original question. What are YOU looking at?