The Cost of Vision
Some bad days you can see coming from a mile away.
It’s the little things that give it away, usually. Maybe you stub your toe first things after getting out of bed. Maybe you look in the mirror and find your hair looks like you spent last night sticking forks in electrical outlets. Maybe you walk out your front door only to discover that the army of the nation that wants you dead is waiting patiently to take you captive.
Like I said. Little things.
Elisha’s servant panicked, just like any of us would have panicked. “Alas, my master!” he cried. “What shall we do?”
Elisha’s response was cryptic and undeniably, unmistakably wrong: “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
The Bible doesn’t tell us what was going through the mind of Elisha’s servant at this particular moment, but if it had been me, it would have been something along the lines of, Fantastic. We’re surrounded by an army, and my master has officially lost his mind. “More than those who are with them”? Look out the window, man! I don’t think any of those angry men with swords are looking to start the Team Elisha fan club!
But Elisha wasn’t done. “And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17).
Chariots of fire—invisible to the naked eye, but surrounding the enemy’s troops in full force. All appearances to the contrary, Elisha and his servant were not on their own. An innumerable multitude of the angelic host filled the mountainside, standing at the ready to perform the will of God in heaven.
Elisha’s servant just lacked the eyes to see it.
* * *
I like to think that this moment changed Elisha’s servant forever. A person doesn’t just see a mountain covered in blazing angelic chariots one day and then go back to life as usual the next. Even if that was the only glimpse into the spirit world Elisha’s servant ever had, I have to believe an experience like that fundamentally changes the way you look at the world. For the rest of his life, Elisha’s servant would have understood that the world he was seeing was only part of the equation.
And that, right there, is the cost of vision. That’s the cost of seeing the world more clearly, of having our eyes opened to things we couldn’t see before:
We can’t unsee it.
We can ignore it, we can push it aside, we can try to forget it, we can make up excuses and justifications and reasons why it doesn’t matter or why it isn’t what it clearly is, but we can no longer claim ignorance.
The cost of seeing is knowing. And the cost of knowing is the responsibility to be doing.
Much easier to close our eyes and refuse to look.
* * *
As Passover approaches once again, we’re expected to do something difficult. We’re expected to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). To test ourselves. To look at ourselves and see how we measure up against God’s expectations. Where are we succeeding? Where are we falling short?
The problem, of course, is that we can’t always see those things. It’s easy to be Elisha’s servant, surveying the battlefield and making assessments, never suspecting there’s a whole dimension out there we’re failing to take into account. And that’s why Elisha’s prayer is so important. We need to be praying a variation of that same theme:
Lord, I pray, open my eyes that I may see.
There’s just one little caveat: That’s a prayer we can only pray if we’re willing to be wrong.
* * *
I don’t think anyone visits the optometrist for fun. No, if you’re sitting in that waiting room, it’s because you (or someone who cares about you) suspects there’s a problem with your vision. You’re looking for help, because you’re not seeing the world the way you’re supposed to.
Praying for God to open our eyes works the same way. Asking for help in that area requires us to admit that maybe up until now we haven’t been seeing the bigger picture. It means admitting that we’re having trouble focusing on the spiritual components of a particular issue. And sometimes it means admitting that even though we think our vision is fine, it’s entirely possible that it’s not.
The biggest danger is calling the blurriness normal. It’s easy to do. I did it until I got my first pair of glasses. I didn’t know I was supposed to be able to see the whiteboard from my desk. I didn’t know I was supposed to see the individual threads of a shag rug. Putting on those glasses for the first time was a shock to my system—how long had the world been filled with all these little details I’d never seen before?
Spiritually, it’s so easy to do the same thing. It’s so easy to assume that the way we’re seeing things is the way we’re supposed to see things, never realizing that our whole world is unnecessarily blurry.
Are your eyes as open as you think they are?
* * *
Glasses work because they redirect light in a way that makes sense to our eyes. The world around us doesn’t change, but the way we look at it does.
The Holy Spirit operates on a similar principle. The world we live in functions according to spiritual laws, but “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). In our natural condition, we have terrible spiritual vision. Like Elisha’s servant, we’re not equipped to see what’s really out there. It’s just a blurry, incomprehensible mess.
The Spirit of God, though, operates like a pair of spiritual glasses, enabling us to see things we never could before. “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11).
We don’t have to remain blind. We don’t have to remain oblivious to the things God wants us to see. We can, of course—there’s nothing stopping us from taking off our glasses and shutting our eyes and refusing to look, but where does that get us?
When we’re willing to pay the cost of vision—when we’re willing to be proven wrong, to know what we didn’t know before and then act on it—then we’re willing to grow. Willing to be more like our Father. Willing to take one step closer to the Kingdom.
Passover is coming. God expects us to be examining ourselves in preparation for the most solemn evening of the year. We’re going to get so much more out of that examination if we’re willing to preface it with a simple, heartfelt prayer:
Lord, I pray, open my eyes that I may see.
Until next time,
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