"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Opened Eyes

There were some books that became popular when I was a child called Magic Eye.  They were these books full of colorful images that when you looked at them a certain way—crossing your eyes, or blurring your vision—a hidden image seemingly floating before your eyes would magically appear, springing forth from the once flat and meaningless page.  The mystery was contagious.  What images of depth and dimension awaited on the next pages my fingers would eagerly flip to?  It would take a while to train your eyes to see the hidden pictures, but once you did you couldn’t help but want more.

Right now I feel God is giving me new eyes—training me to see the hidden opportunities full of unexpected wonder and excitement all around me.  What once seemed flat and bleak now springs forth with beauty, depth and dimension, wonder and new life!  Growing up in the church, I learned how to say the right things, think the right thoughts, and grind out the same behaviors to scrape by in my “Christian duty.”  It’s not all that hard for a church kid to look and act “churchy.”  Yet when I look at God’s word, and see that Jesus spent his time with the down and out, that he loved those on the fringes of society, that he brought healing and love to the impoverished—the  poor of means, heart and mind, and that he calls us to love and care for these people as well—carrying out his great commission to make disciples, and his great commandment to love him and others with hearts full of abandon…I have begun to see the disconnect in my life.  My Midwest, Minnesota nice (which in my case was a whole lot of nice…minus any real love), conservative, Scandinavian, keep-it-to-yourself, Christian culture has not always lined up with my claims of a transformed heart.  I’ve been staring at the flat page without experiencing the joyous wonder of the hidden gems that await the hearts of those who embrace the new eyes of Jesus Christ!  2nd Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”  Sometimes it’s hard to look past our own fear…and place of comfort to see the adventure that awaits.

A few months ago, I found myself and a few other friends sitting around a table with someone who was down and out, someone searching for the hope found only in Jesus Christ.  This guy wasn’t the type of person I would normally associate with.  In the past, I would have justified my avoidance on our different backgrounds or personalities, or that I had other things to be doing for God, but this day I decided to test the waters, and I jumped full-fledge into my fears, and embraced a friendship with someone who like me, was broken and in need of God’s amazing grace.  That first day we met together, we all had tears as our new friend asked God to forgive him and lead his life down a new path.  There has been no looking back in this new journey—for him or for me.  Where I once saw a man worth avoiding—I now see a dear friend—and a new brother in Christ!  As I hopped in my car after that first meeting together, I asked myself, “Is this what I’ve been missing?  Is this the joy my fears have kept me from?  I don’t want to miss this ever again!”  Like the hidden pictures of a Magic Eye, my eyes have now seen the wonder…and I want more!

"The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields." Matthew 10:38I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to put my gardening gloves on.  I don’t want to miss out in participating in the joy of the harvest!