“Watching & Waiting” Meditations: 25. Eyes to See
2 Kings 6:17 “Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.”
Spiritual sight is a strange thing. I think it grows. It is not natural and so perhaps Elisha’s prayer is one that we all need, “that we may see.” Ordinary sight is something I suspect most of us take for granted. Whether we wear glasses, contact lenses, or nothing, ‘seeing’ is something most of us take for granted – until it is not there. We want to see, we want to see well; in fact seeing well is something we in the West at least consider an essential. Like many children as I grew it become obvious I wouldn’t see the board in the classroom unless I sat at the front. I was taken to an optician. Today they might be called an ophthalmologist or optometrist.
In the following years I had various pairs of glasses (spectacles) because eyes change, and then one day I noticed a black area in my sight. I left it a couple of days, mentioned it to my wife who insisted I ring the doctor. When I told the receptionist my symptoms, she had me in the surgery within the hour. Within two minutes the doctor was on to the hospital and a few hours later I was going through a series of nurse – doctor – surgeon, and was told I had a torn retina. When I told them it had been like it for three days, eyebrows lifted in each case and the surgeon eventually told me, “In such cases we like to see the person within hours otherwise you might lose your sight in that eye completely!” He operated within the hour. A boring hour, (the operation is utterly boring as you feel nothing and see nothing while they work), later with a patch over the eye for the next twenty-four hours, instructions were given and to cut a long story short, several months later, a cataract was removed from each eye (cataracts often grow as a result of such an operation) and I had near perfect sight. No glasses needed except for close-up reading, for the first time in over fifty years! Oh yes, we want our sight! And the wonder of the day is that modern medicine can help us have that. Thank you Lord for that provision.
So why, I wonder, when we hold such store in having good natural sight, do we who are believers not hold the same store in having good spiritual sight? Is it simply because we don’t think about it, or our Sunday preacher never speaks about it? The thing is that when we have spiritual sight, it sheds a whole new perspective on the reality of the world around us.
The story of Dothan being besieged and the panic raised in Elisha’s servant is great – or at least it is when God opens his eyes to see the spiritual reality – a city surrounded not only by enemy soldiers but by the hosts of heaven, ready to blind them at God’s instructions and Elisha’s bidding. Brilliant! We may not be into angels (why not?) but dare we pray and ask the Lord to open our eyes to see the spiritual realities surrounding us? Of course there will be the ongoing prayer, “Lord, what do you want me to do with this revelation?” Yes, that’s the tricky bit!
The psalmist paves the way for us in this: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law,” (Psa 119:18) which I suggest is a pretty good prayer when we approach His word, the Bible. What are we asking? Lord please allow me to see the wonder of your word, to realise its import, to see the meaning beyond mere words, to be taught by it, challenged by it, built up by it. Spiritual sight allows the word of God to come alive. If a preacher can’t see God’s word as that, they should not be preaching. I remember that old preacher from the mid-part of the 20th century, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who had such a heart for God’s word that in every sermon he seemed to convey that this was THE most important part of the Bible – oh yes, every verse.
There was a tragic, but disciplinary, episode in Scripture then King David, fleeing from the uprising of his rebellious son, Absalom, said to Zadok the priest, “Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again.” (2 Sam 15:25) David, under the discipline of God for his past recent sin with Bathsheba, knew that the ark of God ought to be in the Tabernacle in Jerusalem, not on the run with him. He had right spiritual vision which enabled him to know what is right and, at the same time, create vision for the future, a day when he might be allowed to return. Spiritual sight involves knowing the good and acceptable will of God and at the same time, seeing the potential for tomorrow.
So when we watch and wait, can we be established by vision that is made clear by knowing the will of God, and can our faith be enlarged to see the days ahead. Is the Lord coming? Are there signs of His activity, is there a small cloud, the size of a man’s hand? But then there is the main teaching from the story about Dothan. Do we understand that we exist in a material AND spiritual world? Paul’s teaching in Eph 6 is all about spiritual warfare that understands there is an enemy, there are powers and principalities (read Dan 10) and part of our role in all this is to be spiritually discerning. Various of the gifts of the Spirit are about ‘seeing’: wisdom, knowledge, faith, prophecy and discernment of spirits. (1 Cor 12:8-10) Jesus exhibited all of them and they are now available to us by his Spirit. Eyes to ‘see’? May it be so.