Sunday, October 14, 2007

Clear Vision...

Anne Sullivan had a big problem on her hands. The problem was not the beautiful blind and deaf child put into her care, but the parents of Helen Keller. She had to convince them that she had a workable method to change the world of their daughter. It was not the usual way. It required a new disciplined world. It meant round the clock attention to the problem at hand. It meant teaching a new ’language’. It meant removing the child from the home environment and teaching harsh new lessons before Helen could ever begin to understand, to see with her blind eyes and hear with her deaf ears, a world outside. It was Anne who had the she saw hope in changing the seemingly hopeless situation. She was confident in her ability to educate, transform and restore to a child what her non-functioning ears and eyes had taken away.
Isaiah had the same problem: “ For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to meand let me heal them.’ (Acts 28:27)Isaiah had just had a vision of God. It transformed him into a recognition of his problem. He was a sinful man, living among sinful men. “Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone and ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” He had just seen God! (Is 1:5) And because of this experience he would never be the same again. Paul the Apostle had been through a similar transformation. On the road to Damascus, on his way to capture some of those new radical ‘Christ followers’ so he could have them killed, Saul met the King of Kings. He lost his sight for awhile so he could regain it in a whole new way.
A New Vision
The church is in desperate need of a restoration of its vision. Like Helen Keller, it has become a victim of blindness. When sight is taken away, the world of the blind often turns inward. You begin to focus on the world you know. When sight is gone, you only know self….and vision is turned inward. The church is like that in so many ways, becoming self absorbed, self entertaining and self promoting. It needs an encounter with the King of Kings. It needs a recognition of the problem of sin that has slowly crept in, causing the blindness in the first place. It’s a heart problem. Israel had a hardened heart. “27 For the hearts of these people are hardened…. and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see.” Their heart condition affected their vision. It prevented them from receiving their healing as a nation. It kept them from turning to the God who had the answers for their problems. It was a calloused heart, a hardened heart, one without sensitivity, and one that refused to understand. Why do we allow our hearts to get in that condition in the first place? It happens slowly, over time, often so gradually that we fail to notice the subtle changes taking place. Israel had been through it all. They had once been a people who had seen God bring them out of Egypt by miracle after miracle, yet in the midst of the journey of miracles, they too became self-absorbed …. wanting to go back to Egypt, slavery, and suffering instead of the beautiful land God had promised to give them. Their vision was blurred by selfishness and the desire for comforts. They did not see clearly the vision God had for them. They stubbornly refused to accept by faith what God was trying to do in their hearts. God tells us, “I want you to go this way…” and we say to ourselves, “No...I like it just the way it is.” We like the security of the known versus the unknown. We can see the past, but we cannot see the future. We are blinded by our doubts, by our demands, by our need for security and routine. When God chooses to upset our routine, we balk. We complain. We dig in our heels and refuse to move. We want God to do things on our terms. We forget who He is! Even Isaiah had forgotten who God was until his moment of transformation. Then he realized how far he had fallen. He recognized his own shortcomings. He saw the influence of the sinful people around him. He knew he needed help outside himself.
Helen Keller could not help herself either. She needed someone to step into her world who knew the answers. She needed Anne Sullivan. Anne became her teacher. She became her eyes and ears. She taught her a brand new language so she could communicate with the world. God has given the church, a teacher too. He is the Holy Spirit. He is to be the One who leads us into all truth, and who will bring all things to our remembrance. He is the One who is to be our eyes and ears. He will show us things we cannot see, and speak things we have never heard. He will teach us a brand new language, one what will usher our prayers into the throne room of the King of Kings. He will help us to communicate His message to the world...the world that is just like the world of Isaiah’s day… a “people of unclean lips…” He will be the One who will bring us into the presence of the King. There we will discover, like Paul, that our plans and ideas are trash and only His plans matter. The light of His presence will knock us off our feet into the dust of the road and we too will realize that nothing else matters but Him. When we do, our vision is renewed. When our vision is restored, we do not go back to the old ways. We move forward seeing things from God’s point of view instead of man’s point of view. That changes everything!

Our Point of View
Too often we get caught up into false ideas fed by carnal minds. We think that if we just get ‘successful’ enough, God will bless us and use us. If we just make more money, own a bigger home, have more stuff, and can show our friends we have reached the goal… then we will be pleasing to God and man. Too often, the more we get, the less we give. The richer man becomes, the more he ends up spending more and more time and money maintaining that ‘success position.’ The vision turns inward. Sometimes we tend to give a little to a special cause just to ease the guilt we feel. But when we see things from God’s perspective, we see that He is the center of it all...He is the source of it all… And He is the reason for it all. Everything we have in our hands is not our own. It is His. Everything we are enabled to because He is the Enabler. Our money is not ours—but His. Our children are not ours—but His. Our ministries are not ours—but His. We are not here to please ourselves, but to please Him. Nothing else matters. Sometimes we sacrifice… and give...and pretend we are doing God a favor. God removed the anointing and blessing from King Saul because he did just that. He pretended to follow God, and in the glory of battle, set up a monument to himself instead of God, failed to obey the command of God to completely destroy the enemy, and kept what was to be destroyed by saying the people did it...and he would use it to sacrifice to God. (I Samuel 15) It cost Saul his position as King. Samuel told Saul “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice” (I Sam 15:22) Saul never did truly repent. He recognized his sin, wanted Samuel to cover for him, and wanted Samuel to forgive him...but He never repented to God. Arrogance filled his heart. He thought “if I just get to worship God...and make my sacrifice.” But it was not enough. God demands total obedience...not compromise… not sacrifice. He needed a vision of God! He needed to see things from God’s point of view.

Restore our Sight!
Just as Isaiah needed coals from the altar to cleanse his lips, we need our eyes touched to see as God sees. Jesus said in Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” The message Bible paraphrases it this way… ” You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” Not only can you see God, but you can see the need. Look around you? What do you see? Have you become so accustomed to your surroundings that you no longer see the lost, the hurting, the troubled world? I often wish God would do again what He did to Saul who became Paul. We sometimes need the shock of experiencing the awesome light and glory of God so we become blinded to the ordinary world and realize the reality of the spiritual world around us. We are all too often ‘sensory deprived.’ We are blind and don’t know it. We are deaf and think its normal. Our hearts are cluttered with stuff that has calcified and made us hardened to the Spirit of God. Where is the people of God who will yield their stoney hearts into His hands, yield their blinded eyes to his touch, and let Him open their deaf ears to hear His voice once again? It takes a coming aside, a time with the ‘Master Teacher’, a breaking of the will of man, a yielding to the Master Optometrist who desires more than anything to give us clear vision, that we may see Him ‘high and lifted up.’
Let us not be satisfied with partial sight. It was not good enough for Jesus when He healed the blind man who at first had blurry vision. He completed the task to perfection! Let’s let Him finish the job. Let’s be willing to lay aside everything...the world as we know it, and let Him transform us with a life changing encounter with the King of Kings.
Pray with me.. “God, forgive me for all the things that I have allowed to hinder my vision of You. Cleanse my heart, restore my sight and let me see as You see. I want your clear vision!”
J. Johnson

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