Bread – Apparent

October 26, 2016


Psalm 38

“O Lord, all my longing is before You; my sighing is not hidden from You.”  Ps. 38:9

I have been justly accused of not being very observant.  In a crowded room, my best friend might be standing three feet away from me and I might not see him.  My wife might have put on a brand new dress which complements her wonderfully, and I might not notice it for eight hours or so, if then.  Terrible, terrible, terrible.  But very very human.

And this happens to me (and I daresay you) on a regular basis even when the things we are (not) looking at are apparent, even when they are obvious.

We are commanded as Christians to love one another.  I think we often believe that this is complicated.  It probably isn’t.  In fact, we might begin by just training ourselves to be attentive to the apparent, the obvious, and then react to it.  If we look at a person’s face instead of looking through them to our next agenda item, we might notice the apparent hurt or sadness or anger or frustration.  And then having seen the obvious, we have an opportunity at least to react to it in a way which loves the person we are looking at.

But if we cannot see the obvious and apparent in that which is around us and can be touched, seen, and heard, then how are we to ever become aware of the apparent and the obvious which belong in the spiritual realm?

What strikes me as so powerful about this verse from Psalm 38 is that it states the obvious, which is not so apparent to most people.  Are you in trouble?  God knows it.  Are you sick?  God knows it.  Is there a longing in your heart which is unsatisfied?  God knows it.  Are you sighing?  God hears it.

God is not us.  We ignore the apparent.  God sees both the apparent and the hidden.

So why prayer, when God already knows it?  Maybe it is because you don’t know it.  Speaking our sighing before God makes us focus on the apparent (and hidden) causes of that sighing.  Speaking our sighing before God reminds us that God loves us, that He hears us, and that He has mercy on us.   Speaking our sighing before God reminds us that we are in fact sighing, that we are broken, hurt, fallen down, people, that are sinful and that we fall short in every way imaginable.  Speaking our sighing before God transfers that burden from us to Him, because now that we have recognized our error and recognized the Person who can heal us, we can cast our cares upon Him.

But before we can get there, we must acknowledge the most apparent thing in the room, and that is God.  But we will not see him because  we do not see apparent things unless we have eyes to see and ears to hear.  And for that we need to be trained and to be best trained, we need a trainer.  And so we begin the process of seeing the apparent by praying, “Come Holy Spirit.”

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© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

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Bread – Sight

June 10, 2013


Readings for Monday, June 10, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Deut. 30:1-10; 2 Cor. 10:1-18; Luke 18:31-43; Psalms 56,57,58,64,65

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From our reading today in Luke: “[and Jesus said] ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ He [the blind beggar] said, ‘Lord, let me recover my sight.’” Lk. 18:41

What do we really, really see? Probably very little.

We know we see very little because of those who see much. For example, we know (from movies) that spies are taught to walk through a room, watching and comprehending everything in the room in a brief moment. This is important to them because they must quickly sort friend from foe, safety from danger, important from unimportant. The reason they need to see everything quickly is because their next steps are often based on what they see. Here, “see” has a broader connotation than just looking. “See” for a spy means observing, comprehending, and understanding. A good spy sees with all of his or her senses, not just the eyes. But the eyes are a good place to start.

Another group of people who see much are nurses. In a sense, they are the spies of the health care world. When they go into a room, they are trained to not only see the patient, but also to see the machines, the bathroom, the patient’s room, and the people in the room. They are observant of everything because the slightest thing out of order may be the clue to wellness or the predictor of a coming problem. They may write down what the machines are telling them, but their primary information source is everything else. When they “see” the patient, they are not only looking at the patient, but using every sense to test the patient’s emotional, spiritual, and physical state.

When we walk through our day today, what will be our primary defect? My hunch is that we will fail to see. We will ignore the person on the elevator who needs a kind word because we did not “see” them, wrapped up as we are with our own agenda. We will ignore the confusion of papers on someone’s desk (including ours) because we are so used to looking at them that they are just now a fixture in the office tapestry, blended into the background.

Have you noticed that there is a word which goes with “failure to see?” That word is “ignore.” I can ignore what I fail to see, and I fail to see what I ignore.

When the blind man asked for his sight from Jesus Christ, he was making a choice to no longer live in ignorance, but with his sight to look completely upon both the good and the bad in the world. We think that when the blind man’s sight was restored, he looked upon a world which was now full of color and movement, and that He looked upon Jesus, our Savior. But when his eyes were opened he also looked upon the same Jesus who earlier in our reading in Luke told the disciples that He would be delivered unto the Gentiles and “…after flogging, they will kill Him..” Lk. 18:32-33. He was not only looking at the Christ who was mighty but the Christ on the way to His own funeral. When the blind man’s eyes were open, he not only saw brilliant color and movement, the sun and the stars, but he also saw dust, poverty, loneliness, and misery.

As a blind man over in his corner, the beggar could focus on himself and his needs. At one who could see, he no longer had that luxury. With sight he had to step into the world, engage the world, and participate in what the world has to offer. But with sight he could also step into the presence of Jesus Christ, engage Him, and participate as a citizen in the kingdom of God.

When we realize that sight means the loss of ignorance, when sight means giving up our self-absorption and taking on engagement with our neighbors, is sight really worth having?

If you are inclined to say “yes, sight is worth it,” ask yourself why you haven’t prayed for it. Have you asked the Lord to let you see Him clearly, to let you see the path He has laid for you clearly, to see the hurt in others clearly, to see the misery of the world clearly? Oh we want our sight when we want to see the fireworks of July 4, but we really don’t want our sight when we are looking at the hovels where many people live. Oh we want our sight when we are looking at how we have been hurt, but we would rather not have it when we are looking in the mirror and asking ourselves how we have hurt others.

One of the great hymns of the Christian faith ends its first stanza like this: “I once was lost, but now I’m found. Twas blind, but now I see.”

This line comes from a heart of gratitude for the grace of God which not only saves but reveals.

But are you ready to see, really see?

Many people would say “no” to that question, because they fear what they would be called to do as disciples of Christ if they saw what was really going on around them. Called to bring reconciliation to a broken world, called to love the loveless, called to pronounce the kingdom of God to people who could care less, called to serve, called to become less so that He might be more. If we are thinking that way, fearful of sight, we might recall a reading from another lesson today, Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, where he says “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Cor. 10:3

When the Lord gives us sight, He also gives us strength. When He opens our eyes He arms us with divine weaponry to deal with what we now see.

Jesus Christ asked the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” He asks us the same question. What is our answer?

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© 2013 GBF

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