It had been seven years since my last visit to the eye doctor yet my glasses were keeping it together, if you can call having to check the tiny screws weekly and constantly squeezing the frames around the lens “keeping it together.” I knew I needed to buy new glasses not only because a visit was long overdue, and not only because an optometrist’s machine revealed that my prescription was no longer sufficient for my eyes, but because while singing in a concert last winter, an inebriated man from the audience came up onto the stage and walked on those glasses. Yes, right while we were singing “Oh Happy Day.” Everyone saw him do it and followed my eyes and expression to the floor where my twisted glasses lay.
I was not ready to buy glasses for several reasons, but I knew I would have to change that song and dance sooner than later. Why were my glasses on the floor anyway? They were beside my setlist and towel minding their own business as usual, beside the microphone stand. It was the drunk man who was out of place where he should not have been. Anyhoooo, my singers and I had a wonderful evening together on and off the stage that night and we refused to allow this incident to spoil our evening. I reshaped my glasses as well as I could and replaced the lens, tightening the screws again so I could “get back to normal.” But after that night, I never saw the world the same way again. :-)
Finally, nine months later I visited an ophthalmologist who said I have the head and face of a gospel singer. Then he asked me “what do you do?” I said “I am a gospel singer, etc.” :-) When he tested my glasses and eyes he said, in French “they are finished” LOL! Who knew? :-) Afterwards I crossed the street to the optometrist to choose some new glasses. Buy one get one free!! I was in heaven, so I bought two pair and got two more free. I was determined not to be left in a situation where I could not see well because of a freak mishap.
The doctor told me what I already knew: I need glasses to see far away, not for up close or for reading. And I notice that when I bring anything too close to my face I cannot “see it” – it goes out of focus. I recall having to learn the different conditions of the eyes in school, but I cannot recall the name of this second phenomenon. The first one of course is called “nearsightedness.” I need help seeing “far away” with clarity. Hmmm.
This new encounter with my eyes at this time in my life led to another discovery about myself. Maybe you might see also what I m saying – the words that are coming out of my mouth. :-) What we do in our environment and world is a manifestation of what we are doing inside – our inner world. Grant it, I do know that we don’t always do everything we think, imagine, desire, or fantasize about doing, yet because the potential to “do” is great once it becomes a thought, this makes our minds the most powerful places on the planet apart from God Himself.
What was my discovery? My physical eyes are nearsighted and reflect the same problem I have with my spiritual eyes. I have no problem seeing, and thus believing for those things which are not too far away, in the future – say tomorrow or even a couple of months away. I have no problem believing for things which have a date and time for that places a “cap” or ceiling upon the expected event. However, I need “glasses” for my spiritual eyes, just like for my physical eyes in order to “see” (believe) for those things in life which have no set date or time. They are open-ended, meaning we have no idea when they will happen, and as time continues to pass with no guardrails or other guides, no stop lights, etc. like a neverending ribbon of road through the desert (and you can no longer see where you started, so you cannot return to that place, no turning back), no modern truck stops in sight and no vacant houses for you to move into, you begin to wonder if those things will ever happen at all. There seems to be no “accountability” for and to those events with an open-ended time table.
So I struggle to believe for God’s promises when year after year, and now even a couple of decades pass with no evidence appearing, no extra terrestrial or celestial visitations, no close encounters of the third to fifth power happening out in the middle of my desert experiences. This is not to give the impression that absolutement rien est passé. Pas du tout, parce que everyday something is happening, whether I can see it or not. I do know that I myself am changing.
This brings me to another situation I’d like to delicately share. In the context of “I am changing” it is all happening because of Jesus Christ, the Son of God living in and living through me. He’s no longer a baby in a manger, even though every year when we celebrate His birth we tend to return to the manger to do so. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, for to remember one’s beginnings can result in present revelations for life transformations. However, many people knowingly and unknowingly put Jesus (and themselves) back into that manger and swaddling cloths every year, and some even live as though He is the baby needing them to take care of Him. Do you pull out pictures of yourself in your baby crib every year that you celebrate your birthday? Do you revisit the hospital where you were born and set up candles and a vigil? :-)
But back to my “seeing” situation. Because of Jesus’ great love for and towards me – I am changing from the inside out. Jesus is doing in me phenomenal things I did not know I needed to be done. For me this is resulting in a deeper love for Him which I can only describe with the words I have to express. Having done this in mixed company I have caused others to experience discomfort because their experience with Jesus Christ has not reached that depth. It’s like taking someone deep-sea diving when they’ve never learned to swim in four feet of water. They are offended (afraid). When I learned that others were offended at how I express the depth of my love for Jesus, that they brought it down to a flesh and blood carnal place where it was never conceived, I was hurt. At first. :-) But then I realized that I am in good company for there was also another woman who semi-publicly/privately expressed her gratitude upon Jesus who also was misunderstood and judged by religious folk. And of her, Jesus said that she would be remembered on this earth forever. He was not ashamed to connect and couple Himself, His life, His reputation and name with this low-life trailer trash of a woman. He graciously accepted, received, embraced and adored her only gift of love – lavish affection and the “undressing” of herself and life upon Him, because He knew that she knew from what depths of depravity He had saved, delivered, healed and restored her.
I too know and understand the depth Jesus went to save, deliver, heal and restore me, but only to the depth of my experience, which in itself is great. I cannot possibly know by experience the depth of death, hell and the grave Jesus went down into to save just one person – ME. Let alone the darkness of separation from the Father He experienced on the cross to save all of humanity for all time - spirit, soul and body. But when I meditate upon Him and His greatness and wonderful love, I am reduced to blubber :-) and my desire to love Him back goes deep, down beyond myself to the point where I desire to surrender my entire self to Him.
See, to and for me this is a miracle because I have lived all of my life trying to please God according to what I knew. And because I’ve lived all of my life in the church I believed that I had given all of myself to the Lord, the church and ministry have guided my life’s choices, therefore I did not believe or realize that I had much to be saved, healed, and delivered from. I thought I was “okay” and ready to experience all of my dreams and desires, and all God has for me. It has taken the past 11 years, little by little, line upon line for God to peel me like an onion to reveal what was well hidden within this person called “me”, even from myself. It is thus very true that we do not know ourselves as we are known by the Lord.
At the beginning of this 11 year voyage the Lord showed me in a vision His pursuit of me. He revealed to me what He would do from “on the outside” (what turned out to also be an 'inside job', good grief!) – the before and after, but I had no idea “how” it would happen, neither how long it would take. I had no idea what I would experience internally or externally as Jesus pursued me to make me His own. The tears and fears, the emotional highs and lows, the depression of being emptied out of everything I am and knew myself to be, and of everything I had in this life . . . Even if I could tell you all, unless and until you experience it for yourself you could not appreciate the depth of God’s love for and towards ME. Therefore, it is possible that you too would be offended by my descriptions and expressions of deep love for Jesus.
I learned through my recent eye doctor’s visit and acquisition of new glasses (les lunettes en Francais) that there was nothing wrong with the appearance(s) of people and things around me. Red was red and green was green. The problem with seeing was coming from within me, my eyes – the way they were processing what was falling onto the retinas, corneas, and other eye parts and how my brain was processing them. So the world around me didn’t need glasses, but I did. As I shared my new-found deep love for Jesus Christ to other close friends they said to me “there is nothing wrong with how you are expressing YOUR love relationship and experience with God, for it is yours. When others 'hear' your descriptions they process them according to the definitions/understanding of those words already registered in their lives and experiences. And because their experiences do not have the same depth and dimension as yours they are offended by yours, because they cannot relate to you. It doesn’t make theirs wrong either, but it limits your [talking about me/mine] ability to share the depth of your love for Jesus, and/or it limits how much you can share, and with whom you can share it. It also exposes them to the discomfort that they themselves have not experienced Jesus at that depth for it’s probable that they suffer under the spirits of religion, traditions, and legalism, just like the Pharisees, Sadducees and the disciples who witnessed the woman washing Jesus’ feet with her perfume, hair and tears.” (Whew, what a long sentence that was.)
So I must be more careful in front of whom I undress myself upon the Lord, for I’m sure to offend at least one person who “thinks” they’re in love with Jesus too. What about you? How do you see those around you who are different from you physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, educationally, financially, etc.? When you hear others describe their life experiences with the language they speak, know, and understand do you judge and criticize them? Do you regard them through your own experiences or lack of? Or do you admire them for their courage to endure; their courage to bare their souls and lives to critical people like . . . you?
It takes courage to take down your “hair” in public, to reveal your deepest thoughts and feelings to others. It also takes humility and trust. So the next time you find yourself as one who is hearing the intimate details of someone’s life, remember that they are trusting you, humbling themselves at your feet. It is not a moment to criticize, judge or become offended, but instead it is an opportunity to become inspired, energized, encouraged to endure. And when it comes to loving Jesus the Christ, it is a moment for introspection – “Do I really love Jesus that deeply? Have I truly given Him ALL of me with no clothes on?” Hmmmm. Now, what did your eyes just see?