Publication: Pastoral Letter, June 2013
Dear Friend in Christ:
We would not consider driving at night without lights. Life without foresight is like that, plunging on into the dark unknown without knowing what lies ahead. There are many prognosticators out there who say that they offer foresight, but often they too are in the dark merely predicting based upon assumptions that do not prove true. Seeing is another matter.
When I grew up in our Baptist church, we used to sing, “Open my eyes that I may see.” And we would sing “Amazing Grace” which contains the phrase, “was blind but now I see.” As far as I can recall, no one in the church was physically blind, but we were acknowledging our need to see spiritually. “Now I see” was in some cases (such as mine), an overstatement. Whatever we see, we all need to see better and further ahead.
SEEING BUT NOT SEEING
Did you ever look at something but not really see it? Ever look for something and it was right before your eyes, but you did not see it? That happens to me and usually I ask for someone to help me find what I am looking for. Then they see what I did not, “It was right before your eyes.” It is embarrassing! But if what you need to know – really need to know – remains unseen, it can be much more than embarrassing; it can be devastating.
Blindness is not always physical; it can be the inability to recognize a fact because we do not want to see it. Or, it can be because our perspective is so skewed that we cannot see it. Amazingly, a religious view held so closely and tightly can cause us to fail to see a truth that might threaten our position. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were like that. They had physical eyes but no spiritual sight or foresight.
Jesus called the religious leaders, “blind guides” (see Matthew 23:16). Isaiah called them, “blind watchers” (an oxymoron). Their perspective was fixed on status quo and not the future into which they were moving_without light. Life is not a status, it’s a trip! Today, life is much more like a fast moving car!
The Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day saw Him, but didn’t. They saw His miracles, but didn’t. They heard His teaching, but didn’t. They heard His warnings, but didn’t. Even in Nazareth, His hometown, they only saw “Joseph’s son”, not the Son of God. It was possible to look straight at Him and yet, not see Him. It is still possible to sing “Amazing Grace” and “Open My Eyes,” but not actually see. This happened to Israel, as Paul states in Romans 11.
We must be careful in pointing out Israel’s blindness and lack of foresight, because we have our own. “I did not see that coming,” is something most of us have said. That was true of our nation on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and true again recently when the two radical Muslim men bombed the marathon in Boston. It has been true many times in our history from the Great Depression of the 1930s, the destruction on 9/11, and the economic crash of 2008. Devastation!
Sadly, this problem occurs in our personal, family, and church lives. “I looked straight at it but didn’t see it.” This is a universal human problem. Some do see and try to warn but are often ignored or even persecuted. The culture is fixed on the status quo with no room for threatening facts. (On that subject, I recommend Catherine Herridge’s book, The Next Wave.)
THE EYE OPENER – AND CLOSER
So where does sight and foresight come from? Second Kings 6 records the story of the Syrian army’s attempt to capture Elisha. Elisha had sight_spiritual sight and foresight. He knew by the Spirit what the enemy of Israel was doing. So the king of Syria commissioned a large army to capture Elisha. Elisha and his servant awakened to the army that had surrounded them and his servant was very afraid.
Elisha’s response was different: “Those that are with us are more than those that are with them.” Then he asked the Lord to open his servant’s eyes, and his servant saw a great heavenly army. Then Elisha asked the Lord to blind the Syrian eyes and the Lord did so. Finally, the very one they came to capture led them to his own capital city.
Sight and foresight are beautiful things. They can be the difference between life and death, between war and peace, between prosperity and calamity. Real foresight is more than a prediction based on trends. It is having the Lord reveal what He sees that lies ahead. It is beyond guess work, and it within His power to give if we seek Him.
SIGHT FOR THE BLIND
Matthew 4:16 says, “Those who walked in darkness saw a great light.” John 1:4 says that Jesus is that Light. Light is essential to sight and foresight. Jesus the Light of the world, opened blind eyes, physically and spiritually. He didn’t open all the blind eyes, but those that came to Him. In Luke 18:41, it is recorded that a blind man came to Him and Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man responded, “That I may receive my sight.” He was healed.
That should be our request of Jesus, “Help me to see.” That is simple and direct. Until we see and see ahead, most of our petitions will be of secondary importance. That man was weary of stumbling and having others describe what he could not see. We should be as well.
The good news is that Jesus is the “Eye Opener”. He can show us what He sees that we need to see; He does not want us to walk in darkness. His coming to earth demonstrates that. What He saw came to pass; those who believed Him were prepared. Jesus knows you, your family, your church, and our nation. There are things that we must see in order to be prepared for the future. But we must see Someone else first.
THE GREATEST SIGHT
I have been blessed to see some beautiful sights: The Alps, the great Northwestern Mountains in the United States and Canada, Caribbean Islands, and majestic volcanoes in Hawaii and Costa Rica. I have also seen some beautiful human creations, though they are not comparable to God’s creation: Versailles, the Louvre, Westminster Abbey, St. Peter’s in Rome, and our own U.S. Capitol come to mind. “Awesome” is a word trivialized in our culture. I am sometimes impressed, but not awed at those things.
What does cause me to become awed is the glory of God! The Lord is an awesome God. He created all beauty but is more beautiful than all that He has made.
Psalm 27 is one of my favorites. In verses 4 and 5, David says, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in a time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock” (NKJV).
I cannot comprehend the amazing results of seeking God_what seeing Him does for our sight and foresight. Moses saw the glory of God in a time of trouble and saw that God was good and merciful. Isaiah saw the Lord in a time of trouble, was cleansed, and saw his mission. Paul saw things that he could not speak about. John, on the Isle of Patmos, persecuted for preaching the Gospel, saw the Lord on His Throne and saw multitudes in worship. He saw the churches better than those who were in those churches. He saw the unfolding of history and the new Jerusalem.
Those who saw the Lord in His eternal realm had real sight and foresight. They all say that it was beautiful, awesome, and causing them to fall down before Him. When we truly see the Lord, we see His purity, His power, His purpose, His presence, His provision, His protection and so much more. Seeing Him is the beginning of seeing and foreseeing. It is not that we try to see all of that or the future; it is that we seek Him first and foremost. When we have a revelation of Him, the rest is just added.
THE BIG PICTURE
God alone sees the big picture and He alone; we see in part. Sometimes He just shows us the next step, but it will fit the big picture. We could never handle all that He sees. The prophets were often crushed by what they saw. Jesus wept at what He saw. Our task is not to tell Him what to show us, but to seek Him and ask Him to show us what we need to see.
We need not walk in fear, suspicion, or trepidation; we can walk in the light of His presence in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (see Romans 14:17). But there are things that we must see and will see if we seek the Lord. Those things pertain to our own obedience, stewardship, loved ones, and mission. Even servants of God can be blind or deaf (see Isaiah 42:19-20). But if we see Him, then He will put our feet on the rock and hide us in His pavilion (see Psalm 27). The enemy will have to say, “I didn’t see that coming!”
I don’t want to merely be a Paul Revere, as much as I respect what he did, telling the patriots, “The British are coming!” I want to be closer to John the Baptist, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” If we make our paths straight, we can trust that He will show us all we need to see and how to respond.
As you consider what you need to see now, let that motivate you to seek the Lord. Don’t live in fear or walk in guess work. If you seek Him, He will show you a perspective that will look very different and turn mourning into dancing.
P.S. Please keep us in your prayers and in your giving this month, and if you would like more information on how you can receive the messages from our recent CSM Gatlinburg Leadership Conference, please visit us in our store on our website.
Scripture Reference: Matthew, Romans, 2 Kings, Luke, Psalms, Isaiah