Through Faith-Colored Glasses

The following post appeared as an article in the last issue of Living Real magazine.  Take a look and keep your eyes open for the next issue due out sometime in September.  (My article will look familiar to you if you have visited to the blog before!)  Many blessings and may you always see life through your own “faith-colored glasses”!

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  That’s what the Bible says; right there in Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1 – the very beginning of the Faith “Hall of Fame”.  Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see – at least with our physical eyes – is a basic element of the Christ-follower’s walk and yet sometimes I wonder if we understand what it really means.  If I was really sure of what I hope for and truly certain of what I do not see, I think my life would look completely different.  I think I would be absolutely fearless and bold, compassionate and kind to a grander degree and completely stress-free in the knowledge of God’s love and the security of His sovereignty – if I was REALLY sure… if I was really certain. 

I started pondering how what we see (or in the believers’ case, what we are sure and certain of) affects how we behave, this summer when I found myself in the optometrist’s office with both of my children.  They had some trouble with the standard eye exam at their well check-ups and, even though their pediatrician thought they were probably fine, he referred us to a specialist – someone who looks at children’s eyes all the time.  So, there I sat with my son and my daughter as the doctor examined their eyes.  My son walked away from the exam with glasses that he should wear all day long, but that he can really function without.  My daughter, Keppley, was a different story.

When the doctor dropped lenses over my own eyes to allow me to see what my baby girl was seeing, tears immediately threatened to fall – and absolutely would have if she had not been in my lap.   The “sharps container” on the wall that I had been instructed to focus on became an almost indiscernible, undefined blob of khaki and orange.  How in the world had my little girl wandered through life this way without my notice?  How did she make it through preschool – 5 days a week – and learn her alphabet, shapes, numbers and colors without being able to SEE? The rush of questions and concerns for my daughter came fast and hard as I fought to keep it together for her benefit.  I knew it wasn’t the end of the world.  I knew that glasses could correct her vision, but I just didn’t understand how I had missed it.  I didn’t understand how SHE had missed it.  I was sad that she had gone through so much of her short life, literally in a blur.  And that was all before we left the doctor’s office!  After a trip to Lens Crafters and an hour wait, both of my babies had brand new specs and Keppley’s life was transformed.

Her eyes were truly opened and it made all the difference.  She first saw with her “new eyes” in the main corridor of the mall: lights that used to be one big glow were now a multitude of tiny individual sparkles. Her wide eyes and huge grin told the whole story.  She sat silently staring out the window, smiling at the cars and trees and buildings we passed on the way home like she had never seen anything like them before.  And I guess she hadn’t.  I remember telling my husband that, to me, her voice even sounded different.  Over the next few days I noticed that she ran faster on the playground and was especially struck when she caught my eye from 50 feet away, flashed a brilliant smile and gave me a “thumbs up”.  She had never done that before.  It occurred to me that she had probably never noticed before that I was smiling at HER.  How sad that she had missed her Mommy smiling over her, simply enjoying the girl she was.  How sad… and yet we – as God’s children in Christ – miss it every day.

Without faith, life is a blur – just one big indiscernible, undefined existence that can be scary and hard to navigate.  Without faith, we are unsure and walk with trepidation, constantly worrying about what’s around the next corner and fretting over when we will run into something else.  We do the best we can and manage to muddle through, hopefully adjusting and picking up what we need along the way somehow.  And most of the time, no one else notices the wandering.  A lot of the time, we don’t even notice it ourselves.  But the spectacles of faith can transform our lives.

With faith in Jesus Christ, we can be sure and certain – even when we can’t see.  According to His Word, those who look to Him are radiant – like my beautiful girl when she first looked through those new glasses.  Faith transforms our wandering into wonder.  Our whole perspective can be different.  By faith, we can see clearly, live fearlessly and run boldly unencumbered and with complete abandon, taking Him at His word and trusting that He is with us.  In Christ, we are set free – to work and play; to serve and do all things for His glory.  By faith, we can be sure that God has us.  And we can be sure, according to His Word, that He delights in us.  Nothing makes Him happier than when we keep our eyes on Him, run full speed ahead and recognize that He has been smiling our way all along.  For surely, “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

Job, His Idiot Friends and Jesus

I just finished reading the book of Job.  I have read Job’s story before and Job 42:5 has been one of my favorite verses for a long time, but this reading swept me away.  I felt heartache over Job’s suffering and questioning.  I wanted to hug him and tell him the “secret” that God was trusting him with the challenges he was going through and that God Himself called him “blameless and upright” when he brought him to Satan’s attention (Job 1:8).  I found myself wanting to, quite frankly, punch Job’s friends and tell them to just hush up and go back to sitting with him!  Incidentally, isn’t it just like us human beings to get it right for seven days (Job 2:13) and then totally blow it when we open our mouths?  And, most surprisingly maybe, since He isn’t even mentioned in the book, I found myself thanking Jesus for coming to rescue me.

So, with the disclaimer that I am certainly no Bible scholar, here are a few of my observations from my most recent read through Job.  If you avoid his story (as I sometimes have) or haven’t read it in a while, maybe this will peak your curiosity and get you flipping back to the Old Testament.

God trusted Job to remain steadfast in the midst of trials

Sometimes, depending on how we perceive our circumstances, we don’t want to think about the fact that everything in this life goes through God’s hands and we certainly don’t want to think that God would point us out to Satan, but that’s exactly what happened to Job.  It is oddly encouraging to me that God saw Job living his life in a way that was pleasing to Him and said, “There’s my servant.  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”  I don’t want to go through a fraction of what Job went through, but WHEN suffering comes, it is good to know that God is still in control and that maybe, He is simply trusting me to remain faithful to Him in the midst of the trial. 

Job’s Friends: A Study in What NOT to Do

Job’s buddies say a lot things that resonate with me as a believer in Christ.  They make factual statements about God’s character and the benefits of holy living and repentance.  They make pretty good arguments that any attorney or philosopher would be proud of.  They give reasons for why they say what they say and their culture would have affirmed an awful lot of it.  They even remind me of New Testament writers sometimes.  (Compare Eliphaz’s comment in Job 15:35 to James 1:13-15 and see if you agree.)  But they never seem to draw the right conclusion because they DIDN’T KNOW WHAT GOD WAS DOING. 

Over and over again as I read, I was reminded that as good as our intentions may be, as much as our culture may affirm us, as well versed as we may be in the practices of the church and even in the Word itself, WE DO NOT KNOW THE MIND OF GOD.  We would do well to remember that and hush up sometimes.  Sometimes, being right and even knowing God’s character and what He has revealed to us in His word is not what’s needed.  Sometimes, what’s needed is just a loving friend that will shut her mouth and sit with us in our misery.

And one more lesson from Job’s friends: sometimes what we “observe” and what we feel are A) not right and B) not good enough reasons to speak.  (See Job 4:8 and 20:2-3)

Seeing Jesus in Job

After spending a solid month in the Old Testament, it was refreshing and surprising to be reminded of Jesus.  In chapter 9, verse 33, Job says, “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us.”  And I replied in my margin: “There is an arbitrator in Jesus!” 

Job 14:15-17 says “You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made.  Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin.  My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover my sin.”  And my mind went to Jesus: weeping over Jerusalem, giving up heaven’s throne to live on this earth, dying for my sins, knocking on the door of my heart and rescuing me from worry, uncertainty, dissatisfaction and death.  My prayer scribbled in the margin of His word: “Thank you, Jesus, for accomplishing this very thing.” 

He longed for me.  So, he came and got me.  My sins were many, so He sealed them up and tossed them away.  I don’t understand all of His ways, but I surely do love Him.  And I hope one day He will say of me: There’s my girl.  There’s no one earth like her; she is blameless and upright, a woman who fears God and shuns evil.