“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”
Ephesians 1:18, NIV
I grew up with a brother who had an eagle eye. On car trips, he always spotted the deer far off in the fields that lined the road or saw the eagle soaring overhead. He’d tell us all, “Look over there! Do you see it? ” and I’d crane my neck and twist my body, quickly searching to catch a glimpse.
I always saw absolutely . . . nothing. Ultimately, everyone else in my family would point along with him and shout, “There it is! I see it!” Not me. I saw empty fields and cloud-filled skies.
That’s partly because my vision is so poor, but even with glasses I never could see what any of them saw. Mostly it’s because I’m unobservant. I am usually far too focused on whatever I’m thinking about to notice my surroundings. My husband can shave off a beard he’s had for months and I won’t realize it until he physically moves my hand to his now-smooth face. I’m the one who asks her friends, “Did you get a haircut? or Did you get new glasses?” And they say, “Yeah, about two months ago.” Oops! It’s not that I didn’t care, but I just didn’t see.
I’m unobservant sometimes with God, too. Last week, I was writing about His amazing, abundant grace and I prayed, “Lord, I don’t feel this. I know about Your grace and I know the verses that tell me about Your grace, but today I just want to feel it and know it personally. Would you open my eyes and reveal this to me once again? Help me to be fully aware of Your unfailing love and mercies made new every day.”
From prayer to productivity, off I went about the business and busyness of my day, distracted and hyper-focused on the needs at hand. Night came. No grace-revelation. My feelings didn’t change. Nothing seemed made new.
Then the phone rang, my mom, her voice serious. She tells me—just so I know—-that a man often-welcomed in our home when I was growing up had just been arrested for hurting teenage girls. “Rape of a Minor,” in the cold, official way the courts put it.
And there was grace, overwhelming, astonishing, and unmistakable.
God opened my eyes to see His powerful work in my life, even as a child, preserving me from harm. He had protected me and I hadn’t even known I had tread on dangerous ground. Nothing in my circumstances changed that night, but God opened my eyes to see the grace already at work.
In Genesis 21, Hagar ran off into the wilderness with her son for a second time. During her first misadventure years earlier, she had run away from Sarah, her mistress, because of the abuse and mistreatment borne out of Sarah’s jealousy. God met Hagar on her way to her native Egypt and sent her back to Abraham and Sarah.
Now, here she was again, this time wandering in the Desert of Beersheba. She didn’t even attempt to travel to Egypt this time. With all the years she had spent away from her homeland, it probably didn’t even seem like home anymore. Sarah had demanded that Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son” (Genesis 21:10, NIV), and so he did. He arose early the next day, packed Hagar a picnic lunch of “some food and a skin of water,” loaded the supplies onto her shoulders and sent her away with her son, Abraham’s son.
Now, here was Hagar.—-Homeless, single mother, without friends, caring for her boy in unfamiliar desert and running out of supplies.
Her circumstances were desperate. Placing Ishmael under a bush, she walked away so she wouldn’t have to watch him die. “And as she sat there, she began to sob” (Genesis 21:18).
It’s in the impossible situations where God is often most visible. So it was with Hagar. God visited once again with Hagar and asked:
“What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink” (Genesis 21:17-19).
Nothing about Hagar’s circumstances changed. Still a homeless single mother. Still without friends or direction. Although it is possible that God miraculously placed a new well nearby, Scripture says “God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.” It seems to me that the only thing that changed was Hagar’s vision. Blinded by impossibilities and overwhelmed with despair, Hagar had given up when a well was so close. God revealed to her grace and provision that she simply hadn’t seen before.
In the same way, God miraculously gave supernatural sight to Elisha’s servant in 2 Kings 6:15-17. Surrounded by an impossibly large enemy army with horses and chariots, the servant cried out in despair, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” Clearly, they were doomed to defeat. Yet, Elisha assured his anxious friend:
“‘Don’t be afraid . . . those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15-17).
Suddenly their odds of winning didn’t seem so impossible anymore, yet their reality was unchanged. Those heavenly defenders had been there all along; the servant simply hadn’t seen them.
Last night, I sat next to a woman at dinner and she shared with me her past so drenched in pain, hurt and betrayal, and her life marred by abuse, murder, suicide. Now, though, God had opened her eyes to His love and healing, drawing her close so He could redeem and restore her. I cannot say why God preserved me from harm and yet this woman, still so precious to God, had been hurt. Yet, everyone’s story is a story of grace. Mine the grace of preservation. Hers the grace of perseverance. Our eyes, previously so blind, were now opened to God’s presence and activity.
In Mark 10:51, Jesus asks the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” and he answers, “Rabbi, I want to see.” I echo that. “Lord, I want to see your grace and your activity in my life. Show me your miraculous wells of provision and your plan for me. Reveal to me your might and your ability to deliver me from the seemingly impossible situations.” So often we pray for provision, deliverance and healing, but what we are really lacking is vision–the ability to see grace already present in the midst of our circumstances.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King