March 28, 2014

Closed eyes, true sight

By Liz Core, a senior communication major from Pella, Iowa
SCRIPTURE: John 9:1-41 (NRSV)
DEVOTIONAL:

Last night, an hour or so before the sun went down, I went for a walk in the woods across the red bridge on the Mill Race canal.

I hadn’t planned to venture outdoors due to the few inches of March snow that had recently covered the ground. Resentful of the cold temperatures and absence of fresh spring air and new buds, I had been avoiding nature like a sworn enemy.

But I sat in my room with books and notepads and digital devices spread over my lap and strewn around my feet on the floor. Even though books are usually life-giving for me, I felt drained and fearful and empty because all these materials were supposed to be helping me get a job, find a life and develop a plan for post-graduation. Desperately, I was striving to see my own way through life by planning every detail in advance.

It’s so tempting to try to control, to try to grasp the life-binoculars and stand on our tip-toes to see over everyone else, straining our eyes and ourselves to see our own way through life.

After a few hours of searching, I looked up from my Google searches. It was 7:08 p.m. and there was cascading gold light reflecting through my curtains and onto my pillows, books and skin. Seven o’clock, and the sun is still out? Even with snow on the ground, I decided to venture outside to experience the spring sunset.

As I walked in the hush of sun-spotted woods, the silence told me to put my life-binoculars down; to be still and stop trying to see and control and know all the colors and shapes and experiences of my future. Real life, I suddenly realized, was going on all around me. The honking ducks paddling along, the crunch of my stumbling feet on the crystalized snow, the bright orange sun reflecting on a rushing, dark spring creek. I put down those life-binoculars and, behold, I wasn’t only seeing life, I was experiencing it.

Those who claim to see are blind.

Those who are born blind will see most clearly.

Jesus smeared mud on a blind man’s eyes and gave him sight so that the works of God would finally be noticed. All of us who claim to see, let’s close our eyes for a second. And when we open them up again, let’s breathe in, quiet ourselves and refuse to see through eyes of worry and fear. Let’s look at the beauty that’s near us and allow God’s quiet and whispering light to guide us into what true sight is.

SCRIPTURE: John 9:1-41 (NRSV)

A Man Born Blind Receives Sight

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

The Pharisees Investigate the Healing

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

Spiritual Blindness

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshipped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

 

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Comments (25)

  1. Beautiful, Liz, and so well-written. I was right there with you. The concept of “life binoculars” is an intriguing one–those human-made lenses that focus on and enlarge little bits of what is around us, but which also distance us. Putting down the binoculars to see is a great image.

    Ann Hostetler March 28, 2014 |
  2. These are helpful words for young and old. Thanks Liz for the beautiful reminder to stop looking ahead and to look around.

    Trish shenk March 28, 2014 |
  3. Beautiful.

    Lynn Sommer March 28, 2014 |
  4. Lovely!

    Phebe Wesman March 28, 2014 |
  5. You have given us a keeper with your “life binoculars,” Liz, and have enlarged and given new depth to the gospel story.

    Joan March 28, 2014 |
  6. Thanks for writing and sharing your insight and fresh take on this healing miracle, Liz! It was a blessing to me this morning!

    Susan Langeland March 28, 2014 |
  7. Liz, Thanks for sharing your view of life! It’s just what I need to hear/understand/live these days!

    Jonathan March 28, 2014 |
  8. Beautiful writing. Beautiful images. I’m certain you will find your way to your life’s work with the roadmaps you’ve learned to read.

    Nancy Brookhart March 28, 2014 |
  9. Liz, this was a great start to my Friday. Through Jesus, we find true sight. Thanks for writing.

    Quinn March 28, 2014 |
  10. Yes, Liz, to the beauty and wisdom in your writing! You uplifted my spirit this morning. Finding the sweet spot between being prepared for the future and allowing it to unfold in God’s timing is a continual challenge. Your devotional was a perfect example of doing just that: you were alert to (and responded to) a present opportunity that gave you what you needed. Keep writing!

    Becky Horst March 28, 2014 |
  11. Refreshing observation out of your experience. Said out of the perspective at the other end of life. Marlin Jeschke, Prof Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion

    Marlin Jeschke March 28, 2014 |
  12. Thank you for your “rich” observations, Liz. So simple yet profound . . . living in the present moment equals clear sight.

    Betty March 28, 2014 |
  13. This is deeply insightful and beautifully written, Liz. Thank you for sharing!

    Grace Parker March 28, 2014 |
  14. Thanks for your thoughts, Liz! They are relevant to all of the transition times we keep encountering at different points in life. All the best to you!

    Jessie Gotwals March 28, 2014 |
  15. Thank You, Liz! A wonderful witness. Very helpful.. I’ve printed it out and I know exactly who needs it and with whom I will share it – within the hour!

    Jim Miller ('53) March 28, 2014 |
  16. Thanks! Beautifully written with great insight.

    Phil Ebersole March 28, 2014 |
  17. I so identify with your situation. I think I’ll take your advice, close my eyes and then see what I can see with beginner’s eyes once again!

    Elaine Barry March 28, 2014 |
  18. Thank you for these beautiful words. I was jolted by the concept of “life binoculars”
    as especially this morning, I’m grieving over the recent passing of my husband.
    Your words are a real comfort to me. Peace to you.

    Mary M Litzinger March 28, 2014 |
  19. Liz, you have a beautiful gift. Thank you for sharing it. Even though in Iowa City, I was on the Mill Race with you.

    Sherrill Yoder March 28, 2014 |
  20. Beautiful Liz! We’re so proud of the woman you’ve become. Grandpa and I saw a movie Wednesday that I would highly recommend to you and your friends called “God Isn’t Dead”. Love you Liz

    Jan Core March 28, 2014 |
  21. I loved the poignant comment during your perfectly described walk in the woods: “I wasn’t only seeing life, I was experiencing it.” Jesus lived this so well, while we need constant reminders. Thanks for a refreshing take on an old truth!

    DOUG GEHMAN March 28, 2014 |
  22. Beautiful imagery. This is especially poignant at the end/beginning of the fiscal year, of winter/spring, for both professional and personal reflection. Thank you.

    Jan Kraus March 28, 2014 |
  23. Beautifully experienced. Beautifully told. Thank you!

    Lois Johns Kaufmann March 31, 2014 |
  24. Thank you, Liz, for your very insightful observations, shared so poignantly.

    Rachel Nafziger Hartzler March 31, 2014 |
  25. Just 10 mins. to sit down and write out your thoughts can affect so many people. Lizzy your life insights are humble and powerful. My child of the light.

    Dawn Core April 2, 2014 |