I came home from my recent travels to a new pair of glasses, a fresh prescription designed to give greater clarity, reduce eye strain, and help my eyes work together more effectively…
I’ve been adjusting now for a week. Though sharpening my distance vision, this new pair of glasses has significantly reduced my close vision, hindering my ability to read, to write, to study things close at hand. In short, frustrating my ability to do the things I am most passionate about!
As I await my new order—yes, reading glasses! (argh! has it come to this?!) I juggle Jim’s glasses on and off my nose, enduring eye strain, complaining, avoiding reading and considering how much it means to me to see close-up clearly.
Ha! now that I’m forced to think about my ability to SEE, I recall my New Year’s choice of a word to live consciously with. It was January 11 and I was asking myself: What would it be like to live for a whole year with this word, “SEE” in focus? Would I learn to see more clearly, more fully, more like God sees?
Well, and here I am, constrained to find things to do that don’t require constant close vision—Perhaps there is a lesson here somewhere for a gal prone to be introspective and caught up in the close-at-hand and to lose the big picture perspective?
I’ve been busy in the kitchen, tried my hand at grinding my own wheat for fresh ground whole wheat bread, my own popcorn for cornbread…I’ve tried out a new pasta attachment and churned out light wheat spaghetti and spinach rigatoni that resembled mini saguaro cacti…I’ve stoked the tandem for dozens of miles on some brilliant sunny afternoons…I’ve fashioned little paper pots and planted the annual tomato and basil seeds…and I’m even trying a little landscape painting…
And this was the week for the big news—my last-born has been accepted at the bible school of her choice! It’s for real; she’ll be leaving us in the fall for the hills of Texas. “It feels so good to be accepted!” were her words and the excitement that entered with the mail kept us from applying ourselves to anything academic for the rest of the day! Whole new vistas have opened up with this news of acceptance. Practical things like passport applications, flight reservations, shopping and packing lists, immunizations, drivers’ tests; and fanciful imaginings—what will it be like to fly alone? to live and study with like-minded peers? to be on her own so far from home ( and money!) And these broad new visions have radically redirected our focus from the narrow academic trail. All because she’s been accepted.
This reminds me of something, a quote I just read that underlines the extreme significance of comprehending the grounds of our acceptance before God. And I quote:
“Only a fraction of the present body of professing Christians are solidly appropriating the justifying work of Christ in their lives. Many…have a theoretical commitment to this doctrine, but in their day-to-day existence they rely on their sanctification for justification…drawing their assurance of acceptance with God from their sincerity, their past experience of conversion, their recent religious performance or the relative infrequency of their conscious, willful disobedience. Few know enough to start each day with a thoroughgoing stand upon Luther’s platform: you are accepted, looking outward in faith and claiming the wholly alien righteousness of Christ as the only ground for acceptance, relaxing in that quality of trust which will produce increasing sanctification as faith is active in love and gratitude.”
These words were written thirty years ago by Richard Lovelace*, a professor of church history with a heart to see revival as a way of life in the Body of Christ. They ring as true today. Seeing the Gospel front center in both my near vision as I bumble through my days and in this glorious far-reaching reality of acceptance with God no matter how I falter—this will change the way I see things, and people! and every facet of life now and always.
If it be true that God delights in His children with all His being, not based on their performance but on their radical reliance on what Christ has done on their behalf…ought this not to be the lens through which I learn to see? Yes, I could use this new prescription, away from things close to myself, to the grand vista of life in Christ, as prescribed by His grace—“who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works…” Titus 2:14
I welcome the relief from this eye-strain caused by focusing so closely on me that I miss the Big Picture—HIM!
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7
*Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal (InterVarsity Press,1979) p.101 as quoted in Tim Keller’s Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything (Zondervan,2010) p.27.