There have been summers in large East Asian cities when my family would look up and rarely see a blue sky or a white puffy cloud. The pollution, dust, and haze blocked us from having a clear view. It seemed like a great rain was needed to wash it all away and open up the heavens. We soon became use to a grayish, hazy sky, as if it was just a normal part of life. Gazing into the night sky, we took it by faith that there were stars out there somewhere. My husband would often change the words to a famous Texas song to, “The stars at night, are out of sight…”
Often the pollution of busyness, distraction, doubt, and anxiety become a “normal” part of our life, blocking our spiritual vision. This haze becomes an obstacle in viewing life and God accurately. Soon we find our busy schedules leading us instead of the gentle Shepherd. Our anxieties begin to weigh on us, instead of being casted on the Burden Bearer. The temporal begins to overshadow the eternal. Feelings become stronger than faith. We need to have the clouds parted, so God and His ways are more evident and prominent. This can be difficult in a world that has different measures for success, love, and significance. We need better vision.
When questioned about Jesus, the healed blind man said, “I was blind and now I see.” (John 9:25) Once Jesus lifted his blindness, he could then see so many things: his family, the sky, stars, leaves on trees and even the face of Jesus. Having the darkness pushed aside, He could now see clearly. Meeting with God has a similar effect, giving us closer to “20/20” vision. It offers a new or renewed perspective, replacing the fog surrounding us with something much better–God Himself. Sometimes meeting with God can become more about being relieving the tensions (the busyness, anxieties, etc) in life, rather than having eyes to see God. However, as I see God, I am changed. As I read about the vastness of God, is it makes me want to trust Him. As I observe the lavishness of His love and forgiveness, I feel more complete. As I glimpse Jesus’ interactions with others, it makes me want to know Him more. As I notice how He is revealed in Scripture, I want to follow Him. As I understand His grace and mercy, I want to tell others about Him. Meeting with God gives me a chance to see Jesus, who gives a much better vision, than I could imagine or the world could offer.
Clearing the Haze
How can I clear the haze? Practices in my life can help lift the haze and point me to the Sight Giver. Not only can a practice of meeting with God help restore my sight, but it also gives opportunities for catching glimpses of Him, and noticing what is revealed about Him in scripture. Having things aid me in observing Him and opening my eyes to God and His work, is incredibly beneficial and even life-changing. As I meet with God, I get the opportunity to see God. Try one of these ideas for a period of time.
Practices for parting the clouds:
1. Seeing God in the Psalms: What is God like? The Psalms give a beautiful picture of God, packed full of words and phrases describing Him. Each day for a month read a different Psalm and find an attribute or characteristic of God from that psalm. (I did this the 40 days before Easter last year.) Ask, what does this psalm reveal about God? What is He is like? Pick one attribute or characteristic and write it down. If the psalm speaks of the greatness of God, write that down in a journal and reflect and ponder it. Look for ways you see God’s greatness in the scriptures, your life and around you in events and nature. Take time to praise God for who He is. After a while, you will have a ‘collection” of characteristics and attributes of God. When I did this, each day I would recall the attributes from the previous days. I think my view of God shapes and influences everything about me. Knowing God’s love, greatness and control helps me to trust Him more fully.
2. Following Jesus in the Gospels: What is Jesus like? Jesus says, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) Jesus is God and reveals what God the Father is like. I want to point others to Him and what He is like, not to me or to others I admire. Take a month or even a few months to slowly read through a gospel, observing Jesus. Each day take a portion of a chapter and notice Jesus. Ask these two questions:
What do I notice about Jesus (what is He like)?
How do people respond to Him?
Write down your observations. Pause to notice these things and reflect. What do you like? Think about, why do you want to follow Him? I took time in the gospel of John to do this with a friend who wanted to know more about Jesus. As I see Jesus, it makes me want to know more of Him and follow Him.
3. Seeing as He sees: What does the Father see? Ask for His vision. When I read the scriptures I often begin by praying something like this: “Father, help me to be changed by your Word. May I have your eyes to see, your ears to hear, and your mouth to speak. May I go where You lead me to go.” The Apostle Paul prayed, “I pray that the eyes of your heart be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-19)
These things help me to clear away the clouds and get a better view of God. They put me in a better position to glimpse Him.
This summer, in contrast to our time internationally in big cities, we went to Colorado, high in the mountains, where the blues were bright, the greens deep and the air clean. Without the obstacle of pollution and haze everything was much more vivid and clear. I had the same eyes, but now there was such clarity. One night, I stood in awe, as the night sky was glistening with millions of stars before me. Could there really be so many stars? It is a moment we have all probably experienced, like when we are stunned by a brilliant sunrise or sunset. As I gazed into the deep of the night at the array of twinkling diamonds, I was reminded that one day I would see fully. My vision really would be “20/20.” This was just a precursor to when my sight shall be without the haze or pollution of life. In the same way, meeting with God is a foretaste for what my heart and eyes truly crave–to see fully and completely. When I see Him, I gain a new perspective. As I meet with Him, I can see Him.