You Be My Vision
(originally posted May 28, 2014)
This present darkness
Do you ever sense that this world is becoming an increasingly dark place? Sometimes it seems we need a HUGE and REALLY STRONG flashlight just to find our way out of bed in the morning. True confessions … ever been pulled over by a policeman at night? Now THAT's the kind of flashlight we need! More like a floodlight. Now, more than ever, it's absolutely essential to allow the "Light of the World" to shine even more brightly in our hearts.
Have you ever lived through a LONG blackout (a la Super Storm Sandy, etc.)? Times like that can help us realize what a blessing it is to have light at the flip of a switch. Psalm 119:105 says "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." The Word of God is there whenever we want or need it; how often do we flip that switch on?
Think about the days in which the scriptures were written. As in much of the world still today, night-time was utterly dark then. There was no flipping of a switch for the lights to suddenly come on at night. There were lamps fueled by oil, and if you ran out of oil--no light. Stumbling, bruising, falling, danger, pain… You get the picture. Not much you could do at night but sleep, unless you had oil and a lamp.
A friend of mine went to her eternal home with Jesus earlier this year, after a long, hard, brave and inspiring battle with Cancer. Once, during a visit, it became apparent that she was unable to see me (and another friend), and it really concerned her, because she knew one of the tumors had been impacting her optic nerve, and she did not want to lose her vision. She had moments of temporary vision loss before then, but that day it wasn't clearing up.
We prayed for her later at a church prayer meeting. I remember visiting her again several days later, and realizing that her eyesight was greatly improved, and what a relief and a joy it was to know that when I looked at her, she was once again looking BACK and SEEING me. Maybe not totally clearly, but the recognition was apparent in her eyes.
That moment spoke to my heart and made me wonder how it must feel to God when He looks at us and He actually realizes that we are seeing Him as He IS. Those rare occasions probably bring joy and delight to His heart.
Sometimes we seem more like the blind man Jesus touched once and he needed an extra touch, because after the first one, he saw people "like trees walking around" (Mark 8:24). Our understanding of life and God seems more like the picture the Apostle Paul painted when he said: "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face." (I Corinth 13:12a)
Our spiritual vision is a bit blurry, this side of glory, on our best day. Then there is the deliberate attempt of our enemy to blind us in any way possible.
One day, when our son was in grade school, we were waiting for his bus at the end of our driveway. I noticed a mourning dove stumbling around, who had apparently been blinded (probably by being attacked by a cat or other predator). He otherwise seemed fine, but could obviously not see. It was such a sad sight, and seemed to be a clear picture of our lives sometimes. We can be as defenseless and gentle as doves (or as scripture often describes us, as lambs). Our enemy will do just about anything to put our eyes out in a spiritual sense. For "where there is no vision, the people perish". (Proverbs 29:18 KJV)
Such spiritual blindness could result from our ineffective responses to testing, trials and hardships; or from the bitterness we sometimes allow to creep into our hearts because of disappointments, sorrow, lack of forgiveness, etc. Also, as in the case of so many in Jesus' day, it could result from having a poor understanding of God, and bringing selfish pride, arrogance and self-righteousness into our "religion".
The Light Within You
Once, when Jesus had healed a man who had been mute (by driving out a demon), some in the crowd said that He had cast it out by the power of the "prince of demons" (Luke 11:14-15). Interesting that later in that chapter, He remarks that "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first." (Luke 11:24-26)
That passage has always seemed a bit cryptic to me. Perhaps it was a simple warning to those who had been delivered from demons. Perhaps it went a bit deeper. A similar passage (may well be describing the same event) in Matthew (12:22-45) mentions that it was the Pharisees who put Him to the test (and also mentions that the man He healed had not only been mute, but also BLIND).
The Pharisees were pretty notorious for their self-righteous attitude. Perhaps part of His remark about having the house swept clean and the other evil spirits coming in had to do with their theoretically "clean" lives/hearts, into which other, worse evils had crept, so that now they were actually able to inaccurately claim that His miraculous power came from the prince of demons! He cast the demon out of the man so that he could now SPEAK (and see), meanwhile these blind religious leaders were SPEAKING EVIL toward and about Him… Ironic indeed.
Later in that Luke section, He says this: "Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you." (Luke 11:34-36) Yet another mysterious statement, that perhaps alludes to the religious leaders' condition also.
The light within them (their "eyes" if you will), the supposed relationship with God that should have let them see clearly and be wise and discerning, was actually a counterfeit, and was really the darkness of envy and self-righteousness. How great is that darkness when someone who supposedly knows and speaks for God is truly spewing out evil…. A wake up call to all of our hearts to be sure!
So often, Jesus is referred to as the Light of the World. In the book of Revelation (21:23), when describing the new Jerusalem, it says: "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp." In the present day, we surely need the light of the physical sun, AND the light of the Son, the Word of God.
Jesus so often urged His disciples to "keep watch". In Mark chapter 13, He tells them to "watch out … be on your guard … keep watch" several times. "Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back--whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!' " (Mark 13:35-36)
Also, in Matthew's gospel, "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matthew 24:42-44)
A few verses later, Jesus tells the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)."At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' " (v. 6-8)
Of course, the wise virgins told them to go buy oil for themselves (in the middle of the night), but by the time they got back, they were too late….
Moral of the story--"be prepared" for sure. So, before the end comes and it is too late to prepare, get to know Jesus NOW. Pray for wisdom and vision as you open the Word of God and let His light penetrate the darkness in your heart… The apostle John said: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"…. "In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." (John 1:1, 4-5)
You have the freedom, blessing and even responsibility to fill your lamp up with oil NOW, and keep a steady supply on hand.
A Lamp Unto my Feet
Have you found yourself being distracted and preoccupied by all the tumult in the world recently? Or perhaps it has become too overwhelming for you, and you have decided to simply go to spiritual sleep and forget about it all. Has the enemy of your soul been working tirelessly, trying to put your spiritual eyes out? You are certainly not alone, if so. All the more reason to "come near to God and he will come near to you." (James 4:8a)
If the Bible seems hard to read, or threatening in some way, I urge you to get beyond that, pray for the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see Jesus in it, and embark on a journey with the One Who will shine the flashlight (and maybe even a floodlight) on the path before you, especially as the days become increasingly dark. As He teaches you the Way to walk in His light, you will be prepared for that great and glorious day, when the Owner of the House returns.
You Be My Vision
Click on the music player below to hear a version of an old hymn (Be Thou My Vision) that I rewrote several years ago, and later recorded at the home studio of some friends, Julie and Dave Edwards.
One morning, during my Bible study time, one of the scriptures seemed to jump off the page into my heart, so that the meaning of the verse was enlarged and amplified for me. My worship time that morning centered on that hymn, and it took on a life of its own in many ways.
This recording of the song was sung quite spontaneously in the studio, and it became almost a prayer. As you listen, I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened (Ephesians 1:18), and that you will see that the scriptures can speak so deeply to your heart … like an amazing love letter from the Living God, right to you…. Here is the verse that spurred my rewriting of this hymn:
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." (Matthew 13:44-46)
"You Be My Vision" (c) 2013 Lisa Prokopowitz (CCLI song # 7010064)
If you desire to know more about having a relationship with Jesus Christ, here is a wonderful resource to guide you: