Learning to see God's glory in others and ourselves!
There's a story in the Bible where Jesus spits on a blind man's eyes and helps him to see things he's never seen before. The one thing I love about the story, in addition to the image I have of Jesus spitting on some guys eyes that didn't have a chance to see it coming, is the fact that the healing was a process.
Jesus grabs the blind man by the hand, leads him out of the village, and then he rubs saliva on the dudes eyes. Still no sight. So he touches his eyes. Jesus checks with the guy to see how the miracle is progressing. "Do you see anything?" he asks. Only partial sight; far less than 20/20 vision. "I see people," the blind guy says, "They look like trees walking around." Jesus could have patted the guy on the back and said, "That's good enough for me." But he doesn't settle for partial sight. He wants the guy to see all the mysterious wonders of life, so he touches him again. Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes and his sight was fully restored. He saw everything clearly.
This story gives me confidence that Jesus will continue to touch my eyes, over and over again, as long as it takes, (he might even spit on my eyes if necessary) to help me see the kingdom of God swirling around my life. I want to see God's glory! But far too often, I miss it. I see people right in front of me and they look like trees walking around. Heck, on some days I look at myself and that's all I see. I know there is more divine mystery and wonder wrapped up this material world we live in. I want Jesus to touch my eyes so I can see it clearly.
Below, I have written five devotions based on this story from the Gospel of Mark. I hope the process of reading and reflecting on the devotions will help you see God's glory more clearly today than you did yesterday.
They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. (Mark 8:22-25)
The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! (Mark 1:15)
The difference between most religious leaders and the visionary leadership of Jesus is summed up in a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up men and women to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” The former is a taskmaster, the latter a visionary motivator.
Jesus painted a compelling vision of a new future and then led the way, through self–giving sacrifice, to make his vision a reality. Jesus spoke in parables, told stories, and painted word pictures of what heaven was like and insinuated that with his presence the time had come for the realities of heaven to be let loose on earth. What a wild and mysterious vision! How could we ever settle for building institutions and consumer–driven churches when the kingdom of heaven on earth is what Jesus had in mind?
GO & DO: Do you want to build ships? Or, do you want to follow Jesus into the vast and endless sea?
Some folks live and die by the axiom, “I won’t believe it until I see it.” Others know full well, there are some mysteries in life that we cannot see until we believe. The kingdom of heaven permeating earth, is one of those mysteries.
In order to see the realm of heaven through the pervading fog of darkness and despair that covers our world, we must have eyes of faith and a strong theology of hope. We need the brand of optimism that Dietrich Bonhoeffer exemplified and wrote about while imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps. Bonhoeffer spoke about authentic optimism as a “will for the future” that “should never be despised even if it is proved wrong a hundred times.” This brand of optimism, says Bonhoeffer, “is health and vitality.”
GO & DO: If you feel despair today, change your mind and believe the good news!
Larry Stoess is an author, public speaker, and urban church planter. He loves telling stories about how dreaming with God will empower people to make old and broken things new again. Larry and a band of friends founded the Church of the Promise in Louisville's Portland neighborhood; The Table, a pay-what-you-can community café; and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company. He has written about their experience of dreaming with God in his new book: Think Red.