When I was 12, the eye doctor discovered that I desperately needed glasses. He told me that although I could see close up just fine, anything at a distance was just a blur to me. I wasn’t that concerned about it; from my perspective, I could see just fine. In fact, from where I stood, there was no discernible difference between myself and anyone else. We all had eyes – surely we were all seeing the same things. I chose a pair of glasses based off the reactions I imagined family and friends would have when they saw my new frames, and had absolutely zero expectation that anything about me or my life was going to be impacted.
When I arrived to pick up the glasses, my concern the whole drive to the office was about whether they would look right on my face, whether other people would notice them, if they would make me look weird, or if I would awkwardly stand out because of them. The fitting went quickly, and because I was so focused on looking at my face in a mirror that was directly in front of me, I didn’t notice any real, sight-related changes.
When I stepped out into the world with my new prescription, however, I could SEE. Trees had individual leaves, not only when you stood near them but also from a distance. You could actually read the signs posted on the roadside as you approached them, not in the single second before they flashed by. I could scan Main Street and know what every store was called without having to walk up to it. When someone smiled, or frowned, or waved hello, I could respond in an appropriate manner.
I could SEE.
I felt so frustrated that everyone else could SEE, had been able to SEE, all this time, and I had not. I wanted to attribute that frustration somewhere – to say, “Why didn’t you tell me it was this easy? That I should have been able to see all these things, all this time?” I felt bewildered that no one else was shocked and amazed by this secret called 20/20 vision.
Looking back, I know that others mentioning their vision to me would have done nothing. When the eye doctor himself had told me my eyes were quite bad and I was going to need glasses, I had discounted it, walked out undisturbed. I knew that the way I saw things was perfectly fine. I had focused on the cosmetic appeal of glasses, of how they would make me look to others – I had had no frame of reference to understand that they would change how I would see the world.
As humans, we journey through this world *seeing* from our own broken perspective and eyes. No matter how good we try to be, how many rules we follow, how “moral” we attempt to be, we fall pitiably short. We don’t know just how bad our vision is, how much we are missing out on, how little we can really see.
When we encounter Christ, He is the perfect standard, 20/20 vision, the One we must cling to and see through if we want any hope of seeing rightly. When we see through Him as our standard, we cannot help but change our view the world and its people. The scales fall off, and we realize how little we have seen in the past, how skewed our version of everything really was.
I wonder how many of us enter the church, walk right past Christ and smile, nod, wander off to look at frames and ponder what other people will think of us, how we will look, whether we will fit in…and end up forgetting to fill the prescription at all, much less wear it out into the world.
Frames themselves are quite cheap, and they come ready filled with plastic “lenses” that don’t change a single thing about your vision. You can easily acquire the look, without ever tasting the transformation.
How many people in the pews today found the “frame shop”, but missed out on a Christ-filled transformation of their vision?
Something else, something important: prescriptions are not a one and done deal. I visit an eye doctor annually – over the years the office has changed, the doctor has changed, my insurance has changed, and my prescription has certainly changed. You know what hasn’t changed? The standard of 20/20.
I find that sometimes the adjustment has been miniscule, and occasionally it has been large enough that I notice a marked difference in how I see. I also find that it isn’t something I can predict myself. Even though I start each new set of glasses with a perfect reset to 20/20, my eyes change so slowly that I can be quite a bit off by the end of the year, and I have no idea. It is literally a surprise to me when I find that I’m not seeing fully anymore, so much so that sometimes I’m reluctant to purchase new glasses. I don’t want to fork out the money, these lenses are close enough, I really like my frames and it’s so hard to find new ones that are as cute/comfortable/well fitting.
Even when I’m told by a medical professional that I am not seeing at full capacity, there is a part of me perfectly content with what I’m used to. After all, it will never be as bad as how it was before I had any glasses at all.
You may have had changes in your church, your pastor, the version of the Bible you read, or even your denomination, but that does not mean Christ has changed. He is the standard. You have to go straight to Him, and Him alone, if you want to truly SEE.
There is not a statement of faith, a doctrinal stance, or a human leader who can replace the role of Christ in your life.
You must align with Him.
You must choose to see through Him.
You must stop worrying about how your frames look to others, and focus on whether your prescription is up to date in Christ.
And when He tells you it’s a little off – that you’re not seeing correctly – that He is the perfect standard and you are left of center – you MUST be willing to change, to align, to conform to Him.
Moses - a great father of the faith, a man with a legacy a mile wide, whose place in Biblical history is unquestioned. Even people whose only Biblical exposure has come via a smattering of Sunday School stories are familiar with the highlights of his journey - the ten plagues and "Let my people go!", the parting of the Red Sea, the burning bush. Moses is well known.
And despite this, or maybe because of this, I think we sometimes fail to consider, really truly consider, how remarkable his story is. Here are some thoughts I was struck with when last reading Exodus 3.
We find Moses shepherding his father-in-law's flocks in the opening verses, and I've always immediately pictured him among family. How comfortably I imagine the scene. But think, for a moment, what Moses' family history is, and how that may have shaped how he experienced his life.
He does not know his birth parents.
He has been raised among a people, heritage, and culture that are distinctly not his own, no matter how hard he may have tried to fit in.
He is intimately familiar with any number of gods and deities that would have been esteemed in Egypt among royal families at the time. He has probably worshiped some of these gods himself, as a child, or even as a man.
He has fled everything that he has known, has no real land, possessions, or money of his own, and is now taking care of his father-in-law's sheep. (I think of David, the youngest son of so many brothers, relegated to care for sheep and passed by when Samuel came searching for a man to name king. It was not a position of honor. I think of my own husband, how he might feel if our marriage resulted in him living in my parent's backyard, caring for their sheep, nothing of his own to offer or establish himself with. I think perhaps that would have been a difficult situation, no matter how wonderful your in-laws are.)
I think of the echoing Hebrew voice, jeeringly crying, "Who made you our ruler and judge"?; that stinging reminder that he was not really one of them.
I wonder what kind of internal pain Moses experienced, and I understand that our experiences can profoundly impact our experience of God.
And here is God, in verses 2-3, arriving in the midst of the burning bush. And I've always thought that was the miracle, the part that would have astounded Moses, because that would certainly have astounded me.
But now I wonder - I wonder if Moses found the power and miracle here, in these words:
"Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God."
A man without a heritage, isolated in a wilderness with nothing of his own, who has lost the history of not only his birth culture, but the culture that raised him, finally receives a personal encounter with the GOD of his people.
And that God calls him by name and ushers him into the heritage of the Hebrew people. There is no question, there is no cold shoulder, there is no fumbling through a confused tangle of who is who - there is a claim, an acceptance, a history.
And THIS is when Moses hid his face.
I think perhaps the burning bush was an attention-getter, but it was never meant to overwhelm the plot of the story the way it often has in modern re-tellings.
God's message spoke to Moses' condition, to his heart, to his need, and it set the groundwork for the more powerful work that He later accomplishes in and through Moses.
Listen today - see what God has to speak to your condition, to your heart, to your need.
He knows your history.
He knows your name.
He is there in your wilderness, making His claim.
© 2018 El-Inkwell.