Ways of Seeing Meditations: 17. Be clear on the vision
Zech 4:2 “He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand”
Review: In this whole subject of ‘seeing’ in a spiritual sense, it means seeing with our eyes, understanding with our mind, seeing with our spirit and discerning with our soul; outward and inward seeing, observing and sensing, comprehending, perceiving. It may sound obvious and you may wonder why we keep on about it, but I believe the truth is, as we said right at the outset, we live in an ever more conscious material world of the physical and mental senses and unless we are careful they will subdue or submerge our spiritual senses as believers.
Zechariah: A while ago I found myself being drawn to Zechariah and you’ll see there is a short series of meditations simply titled ‘Zechariah’. He started having visions and initially he kept asking of an angel in the visions, “What are these, my lord?” as various pictures appeared before him (1:9,19) in the first chapter. In the second chapter, seeing a man with a measuring rod, he asks, “Where are you going?” (2:2) He is not so overawed by what he was seeing that he didn’t stop asking about what he saw. The revelation just keeps rolling out before him in chapters 2 and 3 but by the time we arrive at chapter 4 we find, “Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep. He asked me, “What do you see?”” (4:1,2) Zechariah seems to have reached either a point of saturation or of weariness (because it is still nighttime 1:8 – ongoing flow of visions) and needs waking up
Covid-Weariness: Now a new expression has come into our vocabulary in the past year – “Pandemic Fatigue” – which refers to what people feel when they get fed up constantly hearing about the pandemic and the constantly changing opinions of scientists and politicians, some of the latter of whom seem to be using it for political expediency. Pandemic fatigue often presents itself as feeling restless, irritable, lacking motivation, and difficulty concentrating on tasks and so on. But from a spiritual angle, what it means is people losing spiritual focus, being taken up with the material world more than the spiritual world. More than ever before, to maintain faith we need to be exercising what are sometimes referred to as the spiritual disciplines – praying, reading God’s word, worshipping etc.
Zechariah again: So Zechariah is woken up by the angel who asks him what he sees. Suddenly Zechariah is back in his stride and having seen the golden lampstand and two olive trees, he’s back asking questions again: “What are these, my Lord?” (4:4) Then comes a mini dialogue where the angel asks him, “Do you not know what these are?” (4:5) There almost seems an assumption that he should know but he has to confess ignorance, and this is repeated (4:13). Now please note he is not scolded for his ignorance. Twice Zechariah was asked what he saw. Jeremiah was also asked the same thing a number of times. God seems to delight in asking His prophets what they saw. It is God calling attention and saying, “Don’t be casual about this. Pay attention!”
And us? Do you see (understand) what God is showing you? But I’m not a prophet, you might reply. So what? Do you spend time reading His word? What do you see? Can He speak to you through what you see (read) there? Do you see how wonderful it is? If not, start by asking for His help with the cry, “Lord I want to see!” Many years ago, a teenage girl said to me, “I have such difficulty reading the Bible, it seems so hard.” I challenged her over it. “But I’m not very bright, I’m not clever. It seems like you have to be clever to understand it.” I suggested to her that that was not true – either about her not being ‘clever’ or about needing to be clever to understand it – you needed to have a heart after God, you need to be spiritual. She took it to heart and became a woman of God. Awesome!
Are you satisfied reading notes, listening to spiritual two-minute reflections on your phone or iPad apps? May I encourage you to do more. May I suggest these are like taking supplements each morning, additional to your breakfast. This has been a period of history where we have been given time. No longer could we make the excuse for not giving God time by saying, but I’m so busy. Can I encourage you to write or simply do (although having a notebook and writing your own notes is so much better) your own studies or meditations and when you have a passage before you, imagine an angel asking, “what do you see?” Let me just grab a random verse, “At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Mk 1:17) What do you see?
Without much thought I see Jesus calling people who he knows will follow him. Then I see something about him that made them just dump their livelihoods and go. I see an example of faith, following Jesus without knowing where he will lead, just trusting him for the future. Conclusions? Jesus knows me when he called me but, even more, I can trust him for the future. Possibly so much more if we took time to meditate on it, and that in turn leads to pray and worship, commitment and trust. All because God asks us, “What do you see?” and we woke up and looked….. and looked …..and looked…. and saw. Perhaps it leads to asking God questions, “What does that mean, Lord?” He delights in his children asking questions; just keep an open heart to listen for the answers that will come. Be blessed.