Brothers and Sisters, Open Your Eyes!
Perspective changes everything. We love books and movies that use sharp pivots in perspective to catch us off guard and cause us to think in a new way about the characters. Suddenly heroes become villains and villains become heroes. Plot twists are one of the great joys of the stories that move us.
The Bible is filled with these perspective changing moments. In almost every case, fear and hopelessness are the storyline, and faith is the new element upon which everything pivots. It’s as if scales fall from the eyes of the people and suddenly the situation looks entirely different. Faith has that impact.
I believe we need such a change of perspective, such a radical pivot point as we look out at the global pandemic that worsens every day.
As followers of Jesus in the midst of a global crisis, what do we see? Are we looking at reality the way the world presents it? The way the enemy wants us to see it? Or are we seeing through the eyes of faith that point us to the presence of the Kingdom of God; a kingdom that includes and transcends our earthly experiences? Here is a brief look at three stories in scripture that were all about this new perspective. Their pivot points are God’s promises, faithfulness and sufficiency. May we have eyes to see.
In Numbers chapter 13-14 we have the story of Caleb, one of the twelve spies who were sent into the land of Canaan. All twelve men see the same thing and agree initially on their report of their findings. Yet their perspectives for action were radically different. Ten men looked through the eyes of fear and dissuaded the people from going into the land. Two men, Caleb and Joshua, harkened back to the words of God at the opening of this whole episode. Numbers 13 opens with these words,
The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.”
Did you see it? Before the spies were even selected, God had already promised the land to Israel. The question wasn’t whether or not the people thought they were strong enough to take the land, it was whether they believed the promises of God. Caleb saw the land through the eyes of God’s promise. In chapter 14 it says that “Caleb had a different spirit.” That spirit was fueled by a perspective that fully trusted that God’s promises are true.
As we look out at the current crisis, is the refraction of the lenses through which we look shaped unequivocally and unquestionably by the promises of God? How might the current landscape appear if this refraction shaped our view? How differently might we feel? How might that change the way we respond? My brothers and sisters in Christ, remember His promises and pray that they may change what you see.
In 1 Samuel 17 Israel’s army was encamped across the Valley of Elah from the Philistines. Out from the Philistine army came a giant of a man named Goliath who taunted the Israelite army and ridiculed their God. We know the rest of the story. David shows up and pleads with Saul to let him fight. There is a moment in the debate when David reckons back to how God had been faithful to him in similar situations. He remembers fighting against a lion and a bear with only a staff. In every situation God gave him victory. This leads him to proclaim,
The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:37)
Did you see it? The entire Israelite army looked at the current situation through the eyes of human capacity and were ‘dismayed and terrified’. They saw no way out. They had no hope. David remembered the faithfulness of God and trusted that His faithfulness would continue for those who put their trust in Him.
When David looked out at Goliath, he saw the dead lion and the carcass of the defeated bear. He knew the outcome. His perspective of God’s faithfulness changed the entire scene. In his eyes, Goliath was already defeated.
As we look out at a world in chaos, at the blame, the fear and a growing sense of despair, how does God’s eternal faithfulness shape our perspective? Can’t each one of us look back over our life and see God’s unfailing presence throughout the entirety of our journey? Can we not recount the times God took a seemingly hopeless situation and turned it into victory? Has He not been a steadfast and trustworthy ally to us up to this moment? How do we proclaim that faithfulness into the darkness of this present moment? My brothers and sisters in Christ, look through the eyes of God’s past faithfulness and let that shape your perspective and fuel your response to the challenges we face.
The prophet Elisha was resting in Dothan. The king of Aram sought to kill him. At night the king’s army surrounded the city. Elisha had no way out. The situation was hopeless. He was doomed.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17)
Did you see it? What an incredible description of the difference between looking at the situation from the perspective of the world and seeing it through the eyes of faith. In every sense this was a hopeless situation. By every human metric Elisha was doomed. His servant could only see the army encamped against him. For him, even Elisha’s great God was not enough.
Dear Christian, if ever there were words we needed to hear today they are these, “open his eyes, Lord, that he may see.” What would this current crisis look like if God opened our eyes and allowed us to see it from His perspective? What if, for one moment, He allowed us to have a glance at His presence, to get a glimpse of what He is doing, to catch sight of His sovereignty and majesty at work reigning over and through the darkness? How might that certainty shape the way we talk, the actions we take, and the way we pray? My brothers and sisters in Christ, look through the eyes of God’s sufficiency to meet and overcome this and every other challenge.
Promise, faithfulness, sufficiency. God give us eyes to see this moment through these lenses and let us respond as the people of God.