Posted in Inconvenience, Kindness, Kingdom, Love, Pride, Sight

Of Glasses and Vanity

glasses

I’ve come to the realization that my eyesight simply isn’t what it used to be. An optometrist told me a few years ago that my age is at fault for my ocular malfunctions. After recovering from the “age” comment, I felt somewhat betrayed that my eyes would rebel against me to the point of requiring full-time vision correction.

At first, I only needed glasses for reading, I was able to swallow that pill easily enough and carried on with life. Fast forward just a few years and everyday tasks became impossible without my glasses – reading recipes, deciphering the lettering on my measuring cups and spoons in the kitchen, recognizing someone’s face on the other side of a parking lot, all became difficult. I found it cumbersome to put my glasses on and take them off repeatedly during the day and finally succumbed to the need of wearing them all day long.

Vanity has driven me to great lengths to find the perfect pair of frames and I have yet to find them! Vanity also drove me to wear contact lenses; I happen to like my green eyes and am now in the throes of wearing daily contact lenses in order to keep them from being hidden behind my glasses.

As irritating as it may be to wear glasses, use contact solution, order new contacts all the way from my optometrist (Dr. Reiter who is amazing, and did not make the age comment, if you’re in South Florida and need your eyes taken care of she’ll take great care of you) and have them delivered by FedEx to Malawi, I can’t imagine not correcting my vision when it’s in my power to do so.

Yet, when it comes to seeing what’s really important in this life, there have been times that I’ve been in need of a heavenly optometrist. I’ve been guilty of neglecting to correct my vision, finding it inconvenient to open my eyes to what’s at stake: the souls of men and women. The noise of life, the angry TV news reports and overboard social media blurbs, have made me focus on the “rights” and “wrongs” in society rather than keeping my eyes on Kingdom business. It’s easier to take sides than it is to be a Kingdom worker, for God sees all humanity equally through lenses of love. Those lenses force us to see not only the true condition of others but also of ourselves in light of Who He is – the Great I Am.

Has the truth of John 3:16, that God loves the world, become so foreign to us today that we conveniently edit out the truth that everyone means everyone? Everyone not only means those who we think fit into the mold, but also those who especially don’t fit into the mold. Everyone from the Midwestern housewife, the school janitor, exercise instructor, orphan, billionaire, and Syrian refugee is seen equally through the eyes of our Father. He simply loves them and wishes they would become part of the family.

I wonder how much our spiritually poor eyesight keeps us from working with the Father to grow the family; how much have we actually harmed the effort to bring the prodigals home?

2 Peter 3:9 Voice Now the Lord is not slow about enacting His promise—slow is how some people want to characterize it—no, He is not slow but patient and merciful to you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following his own path and to turn toward God’s.”

The next time you see someone at the grocery store or sleeping homeless on the street or even see angry newscasts on the TV, dare to look behind the veil of what this world would have you see. On the outside, people appear to have it all together or be the authors of their own misery or at the mercy of a ruthless dictator. Their external circumstances belie who they really are: the apple of God’s eye.

It’s time to put our glasses on.

Posted in Correction, Kindness, Pride, Sight, Uncategorized

That Would Be Kind

A comment on my 5th grade report card still strikes me when I think of it today:

“Lea does not take correction well.”

Well that was embarrassing to admit!

Surprisingly, it was my English teacher who had written the comment. It caught me off guard, as I never suspected that I had made her feel this way. I had thought she was kind and might have even liked me – until that report card. Everything changed when I read her remark for I knew that there would be consequences to those remarks when my parents read them. Her correction stung. I felt criticized and angry. From that day forward I vowed to be perfect in class, to prove her wrong, but I wouldn’t forget how she wounded me.

As time went by, my participation (as I had vowed) was perfect. I worked hard, never interrupted and even began to draw praise from her. The following report was glowing on how I had improved. My parents’ praise lifted my spirits and I changed from wanting to prove her wrong to wanting to please her.

Psalm 141:5 NKJV Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil; let me not refuse it…”

 NCV “If a good person punished me, that would be kind. If he corrected me, that would be like perfumed oil on my head. I shouldn’t refuse it…”

Correction. What a word. We use it primarily when referring to children, school, education, but rarely when referring to adults. Mentally I suppose this is because correction is meant for the immature, not those who have grown into adulthood. For some reason, there comes a time in life when we seem to “outgrow” the need for correction (or rebuke) and are expected to make it through life on our own with no help at all; no correction of how our sails are set if the winds are contrary.

Kindness. Another great word; it is not a word we would put into the same sentence or phrase with correction. Normally, I would think a kindness would be expressed in a way that makes me feel good, not in a way that challenged me to change. My feelings are to be soothed and reinforced – they need to be told how wonderful I always am or how unfortunate it was for someone to be unkind to me. If words or actions aren’t brought in this way, they are not kind.

Refuse. This is a word used very often when correction is involved. Children who are corrected often refuse to receive correction internally and only follow through with prescribed consequences because they, as children, have no choice. We’ve all heard the story of the child who is told to sit down but replies, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside.” When we grow into adults, the inner refusal we suppressed all those years as children is free to be released and expressed. We are capable adults after all, aren’t we? We are going to stand up for everyone to see.

Most of us can see ourselves in the descriptions of children above yet we fail to recognize that while we are grown adults physically, we remain children of God eternally. The physical realm easily translates for us into the only reality to embrace, as it is the most “real” reality we can feel.

During the years of war in the Central Africa region (early 1990s-early 2000s) we went through and heard of many atrocities too horrible to describe. While war, the slaughter of innocent civilians, and economic hardship all took their toll on us, I think it was the callous disregard to what was really important that would strike me the hardest. A situation comes to mind when a friend, whose Bible school compound had been looted of tens of thousands of dollars of books, furnishings, and equipment, went to visit one of her acquaintances in a nearby village. As she entered the home, she recognized some of things in the home as items from the Bible school and she said those belong to the school. The reply to her statement was amazing, “Sister, that is church, but this is life.”

Correction, had this lady received it instead of hardening her heart, could have been a catalyst in the village for everyone who had stolen items in their homes to return them to the school. How very sad to think that she placed more value on the temporary rather than the eternal. Life, as we experienced in the time of war, is but a breath, here one moment and gone the next. While this may seem like an extreme example, its truth is universal and timeless.

How often have we been guilty of the same kind of thinking when it comes to correction that God brings to us through friends, family, His Word, sermons, worship or other avenues? Is it so wrong to be wrong? Isn’t it better to be corrected? Why do we prefer the consequences of a hard heart?

Pride is a terrible and unforgiving master and when pride rules our lives, it brings us eternal and far-reaching consequences. How long will we stand up when God has said to sit down? How long will we refuse correction before we understand that correction is actually kindness and not criticism?

There is a big difference between criticism and kindness. We primarily associate criticism negatively (although it can be used in a positive sense, it is rarely meant to be positive) as disapproval by someone. They perceive something we have said/done negatively and express their disapproval. This can make us wonder, how can a correction possibly be kind? The answer is simple for a correction is not a criticism, as we understand criticism. Correction’s motive is different from that of a criticism. A criticism is meant to wound while a correction is meant to bring positive change. What is to be gained in the correction by the one giving the correction? If the benefit of the correction will come directly to us, then it is a kindness.

If pride is our master, we find it difficult to bend our knees and sit down (for we have been standing up this whole time) and allow the correction to change us. This is a true kindness as it changes us and enhances who we are and what we do. But pride will refuse to change because pride can’t be wrong. The goal of pride is self-preservation and self-exaltation. How has that helped us so far? Where has that gotten us except far from where God wants to bring us?

I have read many books and articles in recent years on the need for mentors, teachers, leaders, and spiritual fathers in the church today. People, on one hand, cry out for fathers but do not allow fathers to speak into their lives. It is a conundrum of sorts. I don’t believe that there is a shortage of fathers as much as there is a shortage of children who are looking for them.

It’s a kindness when God corrects us and gets our sails set straight. He is the Captain and He sees the map, He knows the destination; may we allow Him to correct our sails. If we open our hearts to His kindness (His correction), He will give us those people we need in our lives to help us to get to our destinations.

Posted in Sight

The Flashlight App

If I wake up in the middle of the night, I don’t like to turn on the light. That feeling of lights suddenly coming on right when you wake up from a sleep is not nice. I’m awake almost always before the sun comes up so the intrusion of light into my world comes in stages; you might say that waking up for me is a kind of “emerging.”

So when walking around in the dark, I am usually quite confident of my way around and most of the time, I manage to navigate around our room quietly without rousing the rest of the house.

On occasion, I will use the “flashlight app” on my phone to move around if I’m in an unfamiliar setting (if we are traveling) or if I’ve moved the furniture around (which I am been known to do quite often). When I become comfortable with how the room is, I then leave the “flashlight app” to the side and make my way in the dark. This assumption of mine brings with it its own dangers. From time to time I will misstep and either stub my toe or hit the corner of the bed. That kind of pain, especially in the moments when you’ve just woken in the night or early in the morning, is exquisite. The reminder of the episode usually lasts a few days as I nurse a bruise or cut to my leg or toe.

“Feet accustomed to the road of God can find it in the dark.” Dr. Maclaren

Life is full of “dark moments” and when those moments hit, can we manage to find God’s road despite the darkness?

Psalm 119:105 NKJ “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Although life has dark moments, God has supplied us with a flashlight app that won’t stun us as if the lights had been turned on in the middle of the night. His Word is a light that shines and shows us the path before us. If we choose to leave that “flashlight app” to the side because we’re accustomed to how things are laid out in life, we risk hurting ourselves as those life issues hidden in the darkness might just stick out and interrupt our journey.

How familiar are you with His app? Do you have it turned on daily? Or, have you stubbed your toe in the night walking around thinking you knew your way around? The flashlight is there, right next to you. Switch it on today. You’ll find the right road.

#flashlightapp

#stubbedtoes