This morning, soon after my daughter woke up, something caught her eye.
“Mama, LOOK! M’s! Lots and lots of M’s! I see them, do you?!”
She was so excited – so pleased with herself and with whatever it was that she was seeing. Eager to get on board with the excitement, I looked in the direction she was looking. I looked. And I looked. And I looked some more. Finally, after pretending for several minutes that I saw what she saw and feigning similar enthusiasm, I saw them. M’s. Lots and lots of M’s.
Over her head, as she lay on her bed, were the curtains on her window. And there, in the ridges and ripples of the curtain, were M’s. Do you see them?
That was but one example of many examples I could give on how my little girl sees her world. As she has learned more and more things, it is as though her vision – the actual ability of her eyes to see – has changed. She sees things now that once faded unnoticed into the background. A couple of years ago, as she learned the different colors that formed her world, she pointed the different hues out as she saw them. They made sense for the first time, and it was as though she was seeing them for the first time.
Awhile ago, she learned to recognize letters, and things like this morning’s M sighting happened all the time. Numbers…letters…signs on the side of the road…colors…faces of her favorite characters on TV… Once she knows what or who they are, she can spot them anywhere. Her world makes more sense with every little thing her mind absorbs. The things that make up her world stand out on their own right. Instead of being a world of jumbled images and sounds, it is a beautiful collage to her, full of things she recognizes. Every day it becomes more and more so, and it’s amazing to watch. She has a new way of seeing, and it changes everything.
A couple of weeks ago, I delivered a message at my church addressing the question of how God speaks to us today. It’s a topic that means a lot to me; I’ve built an entire blog on the principle that God is speaking and waiting to be experienced in our day-to-day lives. The message was terrific for me to work on and deliver, because it made me examine some of my own experiences and beliefs, and even since I spoke on the topic I’ve been thinking on it.
One of the things I addressed in the message (or that God said through me, I hope) was that hearing God begets hearing God. Basically, once we hear God once or twice, we learn to recognize His voice and can recognize Him more and more when He speaks. It’s a biblical principle. Scripture says that Jesus is the Shepherd and we are the sheep; we follow Him because we recognize His voice. As in any relationship with anyone, we cannot recognize a voice if we’ve never taken the time to get to know the one who is speaking, so spending time with Jesus and learning what He sounds like when He speaks to us is essential.
When we hear Him, we learn to recognize His voice. When He speaks again, we’ll hear Him more clearly because we know what we’re listening for.
And I think that’s pretty much how a life of faith works in general. When we finally give Jesus the go-ahead to run our lives, leaving our own path behind and choosing His way, it is as though we are given a brand new set of eyes. We begin to see things through different lenses. It all looks different and, in many cases, it all makes sense for the first time.
A sunrise is no longer a cool array of colors across the sky, but is a beautiful, artful love gift from our Creator.
A homeless man on the side of the road is no longer a nuisance, but is an opportunity to show extravagant love.
A flustered mother with her cranky children is no longer something to tolerate until you can get out of the grocery line, but is an opportunity to be compassionate and merciful.
Car trouble? A ministry opportunity with the tow truck driver.
Routine breakfast at Panera? A chance to build a relationship with the cashier who always gets your bagel.
Dropping your child off at school? A chance to encourage her teachers.
It’s all in how you look at it. Before I began walking with Christ, I missed these opportunities. I didn’t (and many times I still don’t) even see them. The situations blurred into the landscape of my day, and the individual people crossing my path blended into little more than a crowd of bodies.
Writing this is a challenge to myself as much as anything. I don’t do this, and even as I write this, I’m feeling that familiar nudge in my spirit that tells me to read my own words…listen to what I am saying. It’s convicting. I almost feel as though I shouldn’t post these words. I am afraid that writing something like this comes across as a lecture to those who are falling short, when really it’s just me pointing a convicted finger at myself.
I’m realizing more and more than my relationship with Jesus means very little if it is confined to a personal quiet time, words written on a page (digital or otherwise), and songs sung in heartfelt worship. Jesus’ last words to us – to ME – before He left this earth instructed all of us to LIVE this thing called faith. To do that, we have to listen. Look. Learn what His voice sounds like when He urges us to act, and then do what He tells us to do. We will never be able to do the things He asks us to do if we don’t hear His voice prompting us to act…and if our eyes have not been trained to see like He does.
I think that once we start seeing like He does, everything will change. It has to. We can’t see the same way when we have new eyes, and when we see the world for what it really is, I think we have no choice but to respond.
I am praying for new eyes. I want to see – really SEE – what is going on around me. I am praying for new ears. I want to hear – really HEAR – when the Lord speaks to me. I don’t want to drift through a world of blurry sights and muffled sounds. I want to perceive all that there is for me out there, and I want to interact with the world as Jesus would.
I feel pretty far from that place this morning, but I have to believe that it’s possible.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
That’s my hope and His promise.
Journeying with you,