I was eleven years old when I started wearing glasses.
After repeated trips to the school nurse’s office and complaints of nagging headaches, my mom took me on a trip to the optometrist. One hour later, he confirmed it: I needed to wear glasses. As it turned out, I had one nearsighted eye and one farsighted eye. Although I was able to see the classroom chalkboard and textbook well enough, only one eye could do each, causing strain and headaches.
I still remember that first pair of glasses: clear plastic frames with mauve edges — the envy of the other sixth graders, no doubt. It didn’t take long, however, for my new glasses to lose their luster. My peers didn’t think they were as cool as I did. And wearing them proved to be a nuisance. I didn’t like how they made my face sweat during recess or how they constantly seemed to slip off my nose.
So, eventually, I stopped wearing my glasses as often, putting them on only when absolutely necessary.
I did this for years, in fact. I always had a pair of prescription glasses on hand. But most of the time I could get by without wearing them except when driving or at a ballgame or the movie theatre. My prescription didn’t improve, but I could ignore my need for help.
Until about six years ago when my less-youthful self discovered — gasp! — that I could no longer read the mail. Or the pages of my book. Or the new text message that popped up on my phone. Almost overnight, I went from seeing to unseeing. No matter how much a squinted and struggled, I couldn’t get my vision to clear. And I didn’t like it.
So I took another trip to the optometrist where she confirmed it: I needed to wear glasses — much stronger glasses. In fact, over the next several years, I’d return to the optometrist another five times. And each time I left with a stronger prescription and yet another pair of glasses. There would be no bending the glass-wearing rules or ignoring reality. To function, I needed to see. And to see, I needed to wear my glasses. Period.
In the middle of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said the following:
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Matthew 6:22-23 (NIV)
I read these verses this week during my early morning study time — with my glasses on, of course. And although I’ve read them many times before, they struck me differently this time.
Sometimes you and I treat our faith — our belief in and trust in Jesus — as an optional pair of glasses. When life gets challenging, we reach for Him. We need Him to help us see our way through. When the crisis passes, we put Him to the side.
However, over time, our vision ends up slipping. And we realize, with painful certainty, that we’ve always needed Jesus. We were simply too self-sufficient to admit it.
This is what I’ve experienced over the last several years. As I’ve walked through a myriad of challenging circumstances — some that you’ve walked through too — I’ve noticed that my spiritual vision has grown blurry. Grief, loss, and even anger and resentment have skewed my ability to see clearly. As much as I don’t want to admit it, my own emotions and sense of injustice and unfairness have clouded my ability to see others with compassion, kindness, and grace. Instead, all I see are my own losses.
And then I go back to Matthew 6 and Jesus’ timely sermon. And I see the necessary prescription for my vision:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also . . . But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:19-21, 33-34 (NIV)
“But seek first,” He said. He could’ve just as easily said, “But SEE first.” If you and I want to have healthy eyes, the prescription for our vision is clear:
Make Jesus and His kingdom your treasure.
He is the prescription for healthy vision. He is what we need to put on day after day and refuse to ignore to function without. His kingdom is the lens through which we must view everything and everyone else. Only Jesus can get us where we need to go, even if for right now we feel a little lost. He is the one who can be trusted for tomorrow, so we can keep our eyes focused on today.
The prescription is clear. But the question remains: Will you and I choose to wear our glasses? We’ve always needed Him. Let’s not wait until circumstances cloud our vision before we reach for Him.Leave a Comment