Just for a moment, imagine what it would be like to be blind, to live your life in darkness. You would never see a magnificent sunrise. You would not marvel at the beauty of an autumn-clad tree in the afternoon sunshine. You could never delight in the freckles adorning your daughter’s face. The world would be less glorious, less than all it should be.
How grateful this makes us for our sight. Yet there is another kind of blindness, just as debilitating, that robs us of seeing the glorious: - a “spiritual blindness.” This blindness keeps us from seeing God and His wonderful plans and purposes.
Unbelievers suffer from this: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.”
However, a trip back to Ancient Israel proves that even God’s followers sometimes don’t see His glorious presence:
As Elisha’s servant, I am frequently on the road with this great man of God. Yesterday we reached Dothan, set in a beautiful, hilly location. However, I hardly noticed the surroundings, for I was worried. There was a rumour spreading that the King of Aram, tired of Elisha predicting his hostile intentions, was hunting for my master.
Last night Elisha slept as peacefully as he always does, while I fretted, tossed and turned. I arose early to draw water at the well and that was when I saw them: Ben-Hadad’s army encamped around the town. My legs weakened when I realised the army’s sheer size and power. A sea of chariots and armed horsemen glinted menacingly in the sunlight.
Terrified, I hurried back to Elisha:“Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”
He arose to see and then turned back to me with a smile: “Don’t be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
I did not understand. Had King Joram arrived with the army of Israel? Were they already in the town? I looked around again but saw only the enemy.
Then Elisha placed his hand on my head: “Oh Lord, open his eyes so he may see.”
When I looked up again, a cold wave spread through my body. All around us were a host of chariots and horses, fiery and glorious, frightening to behold. The army of God had been here all this time. My fear of Aram was gone instantly, replaced by an awe and reverent fear of the Lord Almighty.
Fear blinded Elisha’s servant to what faith should have shown him: - God was with them and would never allow them to fall into the enemy’s hands.
Despair, too, can blind us to God’s presence. Let us travel back one last time to Israel in AD33:
Cleopas and I, still reeling from the shock of Jesus’ execution, were deep in conversation about all that had happened in Jerusalem this tragic Passover, when a stranger joined us on the road. There was something unsettlingly familiar about him, especially when he started to speak of the scriptures the Messiah would fulfil. Strangely, my heart seemed to burn within me as he spoke. It reminded me of…what?
When we reached Emmaus, we convinced him to come into my home and stay a while. As we reclined at the table, he took bread, praised God, broke it and gave it to us. In that moment, our eyes were opened and we knew that Jesus had been walking, talking and sitting with us. How could we not have recognised our Lord?
In sorrow, we may turn inwards, instead of seeking God’s face. Then, like these disciples, we miss knowing His loving presence at our side.
So many more things dim our spiritual eyes: - disobedience; pre-occupation and busyness; trusting our emotions, rather than the promises of God. When our eyes are fixed on “earthly things,” rather than “things above,” we start losing our faith-filled spiritual sight.
Paul prayed that: “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
Let this become our prayer too, so that fear, despair or sin never blinds us to His wonderful presence. Let us yearn for the clarity that He gives, so that our view of Him, ourselves and others is always true.
Only God can open our eyes and light our way.
Scripture References (all NIV)
Paragraph 3 – “the god of this age has blinded…”: 2 Cor. 4:4
Account of Elisha’s servant: 2 Kings 6:8-17
Account of Cleopas’ companion on the road to Emmaus: Luke 24:13-32
4th last paragraph - “earthly things…things above”: Col 3: 1-2
3rd last paragraph - Paul’s prayer: Eph. 1:18-19
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