Archive for » February 23rd, 2014 «

The eyes (don’t) have it

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To fetch her poor dog a bone;
But when she got there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

I can relate. Not to the marginal rhyming (okay, that too), but to the ransacking of a kitchen that yields only Ramen noodles for breakfast. Let no one ever accuse Old Mother Susanof not knowing when it’s time to go grocery shopping. Who would have guessed that those empty cabinets would lead my daughter Angie and me right smack dab into the middle of a Very Strange Thing.

It had started out as an ordinary, run-of-the-mill morning: Me, anxious to get going so as not to burn the entire day at Walmart, and Angie, dragging her feet as long as was humanly possible.

Preparing to leave the house, I had donned my trusty old, fuzzy, gray vest. The one I always wore when I went out. The one I had glamorized and modernized with the American flag pin on the upper left-hand pocket. The one my husband said needed to go to Goodwill.

Back then, safety pin jewelry was all the rage. I was a middle school Special Education teacher at the time, so I was accusto med to seeing fads come and go faster than a sideways glance could bring a seventh grader to tears. Seemed like my students were always coming in arrayed with the latest adolescent craze. Perpetually unimpressed, I stuck with the “classic” look, partly to maintain my image of authority and partly because I’d look stupid dressing like a teenybopper. I had purchased the beaded bauble from an old man who carried a lap full of them as he spun his wheelchair down the sidewalk in search of customers. During our brief chat, he told me that he was selling them to raise money for a good cause, so I bought one.

Well, that beaded badge of allegiance became a fixture on that vest. I felt that symbolically covering my heart with a contemporary twist was a visible way to express my patriotism without appearing too politically old guard. Like an American Express card, I never left home without it. So there was nothing unusual about me wearing it to Walmart on that particular day; that is, until the Very Strange Thing happened.

Angie and I were in the paper products aisle. It was terribly crowded because by some unfortunate twist of fate, it appeared that on that very morning the entire town had run out of . . . well, you know. So there we were, trying to decide between Charmin and Angel Soft when an elderly couple maneuvered in across the aisle from us. The nondescript woman carefully guided the gentleman through the throng, occasionally leaning in close to convey a comment. The man was short and plumpish and wore one of those drab olive green fishing hats. Unkempt tufts of gray hair sprouted out from beneath the floppy fedora. His wrinkly gray face and wrinkly gray sweatshirt blended together into one wrinkly gray jumble to obscure the boundary where one ended and the other began. He was unremarkable in every way except for two things: 1.) He was wearing sunglasses with lenses so dark that he could have welded in them, and 2.) He was tap tap tapping his way through the cramped aisle with his white cane. The man was obviously totally blind, and his lady companion was his shopping escort.

Waiting for the chance to reach in and snag our 12 quilted double rolls, there the four of us hovered–the blind man, his guide, Angie, and me—wedged like bologna and cheese between the other (ahem) toilet tissue shoppers.

You know that feeling when you sense someone is looking at you and you have to fight the impulse to jerk your head around and look back? Well, all of a sudden, I had that feeling. Out of the corner of my eye, I realized that the blind man had turned his face toward me. And there it stalled; and parked. Beginning to feel an uneasiness rising up from within, I finally couldn’t resist the magnetic pull any longer and turned to face him. What?? Could it be possible that he was actually grinning at me?? It was a weird sensation in that moment, because even though he was clearly completely blind, I somehow had the distinct impression that we had made . . . GASP . . . eye contact. Well, at that very moment, he points right at the beaded pin on my vest, then at his hat. There fastened to the side of the fishing hat was the Exact. Same. Pin. Then, still looking straight at me, he smiles and says, “Nice pin.” And with that, his escort led him away through the clearing crowd and he tap tap tapped out of sight. To put it mildly, it was a Very Strange Thing.

Angie and I froze in our tracks. It was one of those rare, surreal moments in life when your eyes say yes, but your reason says no. We looked at each other, speechless for the first time in, well, ever. In that fleeting moment of unspoken agreement that a toilet paper aisle would not be the best place to unleash a bloodcurdling scream, we simultaneously broke out in a convulsion of laughter. We laughed until we couldn’t laugh anymore.

To this very day we derive unbridled pleasure in reminiscing about the blind man and the pin. A blind man who can see. Incredible. Almost as incredible as a seeing man who is blind. A Very Strange Thing indeed.

Ask someone if they had to make a choice, would they rather lose their eyesight or their hearing, and 100% of the time they’ll say their hearing. Eyesight is a very precious commodity. I was reminded of this again this morning when the sun arose bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Even though as a child my mother had repeatedly warned that staring into it would make me go blind, I couldn’t help sneaking just a peek at the huge, dazzling disk. The lingering curtain of sputtering spots now blinding my vision reminded me that I should have listened better.

Interesting how the sun never veers from its course. It knows exactly where it’s going and exactly how to get there. It reminded me a lot of me way back when. Back then I, too, had set a course. I had programmed my life with Success’s coordinates and set sail full steam ahead. I was the captain of my ship and the master of my fate. Oh, I still believed that there was a higher power (“God” or whatever you want to call it). But the notion that life had been spontaneously created by some supernatural magician? Pure fantasy. Merely the pitiful imaginings of uninformed religious wingnuts. Anyone with half a brain and one good eye could see that the cosmic spinner had landed on “Microbes, Start Your Engines,” and time would finish the race. Science simply had yet to discover how males and females evolved simultaneously yet managed to produce offspring when their unique physical plumbing was still in the design phase; why things that could reproduce themselves grew into things that required two genders to replicate; and how it was possible for something to proceed out of nothing in the first place. But that’s what my Science teachers taught so that’s what I believed. And since my parents sternly warned that my teachers were to be considered my parents away from home, I didn’t question. Somehow, someday, it would all be uncovered, and the religious fanatics would finally see the light. I had unwavering faith in that much at least.

What I didn’t have faith in was Jesus Christ. I had most certainly been taught about Jesus in Sunday School, and I’m sure Pastor VanLeeuwen must have talked about Him in his Sunday sermons. And I certainly knew about Christmas and Easter. In fact, even after I was confirmed I still went to church on those two holidays. Come to find out that because I believed there was a God, I believed I knew God. After all, I had been baptized as an infant. As a teenager, I’d stood in line outside the pastor’s office with all the other panicky confirmation candidates trying to cram in the last-minute memorization of all that stuff we had to recite. And I finally passed, even after being repeatedly sent to the back of the line! I was so relieved. The pressure was off, the training process complete, and my eyes fully opened. Cross that off my parents’ bucket list. No blindness here. What else was there to know?

There are nearly 40 miracles of Jesus recorded in the Bible and countless others that are not specifically described. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written (John 21:25). That has to be a lot of miracles! Not even the wary religious leaders–the priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees–denied the fact that Jesus performed miracles, many of which they had personally witnessed.

But of all the miracles we’re told about, perhaps Jesus’ most remarkable miracle was the sole recorded case of healing the eyes of a man who was blind from birth. Since the infirmity wasn’t the result of disease or an accident or demon possession or anything else that might eventually reverse itself, there was no way it could be explained away even by the most skeptical observer. This was congenital blindness. Nothing could cure that except God Himself. That was the one thing everyone could agree on.

Astonishingly, this man, this neighbor, this blind beggar who sat daily outside the temple, was now walking around like a normal sighted person. It just didn’t make sense. After a thorough interrogation of both the man and his parents by the Pharisees (strict followers of Jewish law) the fact could not be denied: The man WAS blind and now WASN’T. They concluded rightly that he had been healed by Jesus. But instead of being awestruck by Jesus’ divine power, their jealousy had driven them to despise Him. When the man wouldn’t recant his testimony, they became enraged and threw him out of the temple and out of Jewish society. They had witnessed the results of a miracle they knew only God Himself could perform, but refused to see the divinity of the One who had performed it. Men who could see, but were blind.

Yet as extraordinary a miracle as creating sight in sightless eyes was, the greatest miracle was yet to come when Jesus sought out the blind man a second time. Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind” (John 9:35-41). Jesus had already brought physical sight to the man; now He was bringing spiritual sight. At that moment, the man put his faith in Jesus Christ. The blind man could now finally truly see.

What about you? Are you like I was? Been through the classes, the recitations, the motions, and still lost and undone? Or maybe you don’t really know much at all about Jesus Christ and why He had to die on a cross, but something here has struck a cord with you. Jesus is a seeking Savior, and just like He sought out the blind man to cure his spiritual blindness, He’s still seeking to restore spiritual sight today.

If you’re not really sure which side of eternity you’ll end up on, relying on the hope that you’re a good enough person to earn entrance into heaven, I urge you to click here– Are you a good person? –and take the test. Perhaps just like the blind man, Jesus is seeking you, too.

“Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12)

Category: Salvation  2 Comments
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