Posted by: ritagone | March 31, 2010

The Eyes of Faith

Here’s one good reason (among many) to attend a worship/teaching gathering regularly: you actually do sometimes learn something new, have an epiphany that changes the way you think about things.

This happened to me at church last Sunday, Palm Sunday.

The pastor’s preaching was good as always, but what really struck me was a skit done by two of the church’s finest amateur actors, two guys who were portraying the two thieves who were crucified on either side of Jesus.  There were props, good lighting, and good, provocative dialogue, thanks to one of the guys also being a good writer.  (The operative word here is that it was “good.”)  Of course the dialogue was Bible-based, and you know what it was.  The one thief was condemning Jesus and saying that if He couldn’t save Himself, why would you think he could save this thief, while the other thief admitted his sin and guilt and asked Jesus to forgive and save him.

And then it hit me:  when one of the robbers “railed” against Jesus and said: “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23), it was a very logical, understandable complaint or comment.  After all, to all outward appearances, these three men were dying, Jesus among them, and what was visible was that this guy wasn’t who he was claiming to be, else he would have done exactly that: saved himself and saved his fellows on either side of him.  In other words, this man was looking at circumstances and life without eyes of faith, and what he saw was three helpless men nailed to crosses and about to give up their lives because of their sentence by the Roman government.

The other robber, however, recognized the situation with eyes of faith.  He knew that he deserved to die, because he was guilty of his crimes, and he also knew that Jesus was innocent and should have been anywhere else but hanging from a cross.  He saw Jesus for what He was: the son of God, capable of saving Himself but refusing to do so because of His love for mankind.

Seeing this skit being performed before me, I realized with a jolt that had I been in the same circumstances, I probably would have reacted as the first thief did: I would have wondered why Jesus wasn’t saving Himself if He could…and me along with Him!  I shook my head to realize that seeing everything around me with eyes of faith is easy to describe but not always so easy to live.

I tell you, it was not a pretty realization.

But then something else happened yesterday that made me realize that God gives me – and all of us – many opportunities to see life with eyes of faith if we will only be watching for and aware of them.  While I was teaching my last series to our church’s Thursday morning Bible study, I asked for some sharing from the ladies listening.  I was teaching on “luck,” whether there is such a thing as good or bad luck, and how it relates to our relationship with God.  And I asked if any of the ladies had had a recent run of what we would consider bad luck.  A lady in the front raised her hand and began to share her story: she had been a surgical nurse for 40 years but had recently retired due to some health issues of her own, thinking that she and her husband (a lovely man who was one of the elders of our church) could live on his salary and his medical insurance coverage.  Then, a few weeks after her retirement, he was laid off, and they were now without an income and without health insurance…and she still had medical issues to deal with.

But what struck me was her positive narration of this situation, because, at the end, she commented very calmly that she knew God was going to take care of them even though she didn’t see the “how” of that care right at the moment.  I was so impressed with her very visible faith in a God who – against all appearances – doesn’t forsake His children but lovingly uses life issues to draw them closer and closer to Him that I began to pray daily for them, that God would honor their faith and their commitment to Him and allow this to be a positive story in the end.

And so a few days ago she posted a Facebook message saying that God was so good, and her husband had been reinstated back into his job with medical insurance coverage and a salary once more!  And I thought about that thief on the cross who accepted with faith the comment that that same day he would be in paradise with Jesus, against all visible appearances.  And I thought of my friend and her attitude, accepting with eyes of faith that, against all current appearances, God was going to take care of them.

And I thought of my realization while sitting in church that I’m not so sure I would have had the right response had I been watching Jesus hanging on that cross.

So it’s been a week – the week before Easter, fittingly – of really searching my heart and soul to come to terms with the fact that I’m not where I want to be in my relationship with Jesus Christ, but knowing that He is patient and gracious and walking with me through the process of growing and learning.  And excited about understanding that there’s plenty of growth left in me; God isn’t through with me yet!

And I pray the same for you this week and these few days before the glorious celebration of Easter Sunday: that you would be able to accurately assess with eyes of faith where you need clearer vision and certainty, and then to ask Jesus for that and be willing to be taught and nurtured and ministered to by the love and grace of our Savior, who never gives up on us.  Ever.

I pray that Easter takes on deeper meaning for you than it ever has.  Take a moment this weekend – starting with Good Friday – to look around you with eyes of faith.

I know I’m going to do just that.

Many warm blessings to all of you reading this.  Rita

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