by Dale Reeves
Yesterday at Christ’s Church, as we continued in our teaching series entitled, “Opportunity Awaits,” we talked about the tragic story of the Incredible Hulk of the Bible, Samson, who lost focus (figuratively, and literally). Because he had taken his eyes off God due to his lusts, his enemies captured him and gouged his eyes out. The takeaway for us is that we must be continually asking God to help us keep our eyes fixed on him. If you missed yesterday’s teaching, you can check it out here.
This past month my wife Karen had cataract surgery on her eyes, one at a time. The surgeries were two weeks apart, and each time I drove her to the Cincinnati Eye Institute where she checked in and I was sent to the parking area outside to wait for her for an hour and a half. Remarkably, the surgery itself took just ten minutes. She was awake as the doctor scraped off the cataract and implanted a lens in her eye. She told me later she didn’t really even think she needed any anesthesia. What?!? Just a few days later as her vision came into focus more and more, Karen gleamed, “It’s amazing. The colors are so bright! The whites are so vivid! It’s like I hit the ‘dehaze’ button in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.”
For the four weeks after surgery, Karen had to instill three different kinds of drops in the treated eye several times a day, so this after-care process took a total of six weeks. She also wore a patch on the treated eye for several nights and couldn’t get the eye wet for about a week. Protection of her new eyesight was very important. In several places in the Gospels, Jesus said something about our need to protect what goes in our eyes.
The Small Type
Prior to her cataract surgery, Karen had told me that she couldn’t read the small type on road signs—she had been driving around without good eyesight! She had been walking around for several years in need of this corrective surgery, but she really didn’t know what she was missing until after the surgery was performed!
Then it dawned on me as she talked . . . how many people are walking around not completely spiritually blind, but missing out on so much of what God wants to show them? Are you willing to say this prayer that was popularized in the film Godspell many years ago:
“Day by day, O dear Lord, three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly.”
What do you need to do to see Jesus more clearly? The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (NLT). Satan blinds the minds of people so they can’t see light of the glory of God. He is so deceptive in doing that, isn’t he? The blindness doesn’t come all at once. It is gradual, just as our vision can deteriorate over the years. Some of us may have been blinded or partially blinded by Satan without even knowing it! We weren’t seeing the small type on the road signs God had put out there for us—and we didn’t even know what we were missing!
It Took a Miracle
Recently I preached the memorial service for a man who was baptized into Christ late in life. For many years his wife went to church without him, while Bob “called on the greens,” as we used to say. He was a morally good person, honest to a fault, and thought he was getting along just fine—like a lot of people I know today! He came to church on Christmas and Easter sometimes or when the weather was bad, and he couldn’t golf. But several things happened in his family with some people dealing with illnesses, and he got more than a few nudges from the Holy Spirit—by way of his sister-in-law. He started attending Christ’s Church with his wife. It helped that we were serving coffee, donuts, and bagels in those days, and he could eat out with his family at the Big Top Restaurant where a round table was waiting for him after church.
Bob wanted to make sure he was right with God before he left this earth. Seeds had been planted for many years, Bible verses had been placed under his pillow, and preaching from our then pastor Tom Moll had softened his heart. He told his wife one Sunday morning at the conclusion of the message that he was going forward in the church to get baptized. And, he did so, in front of children and grandchildren at the ripe age of 80! So, a few weeks ago his family and friends said goodbye for now to Bob, but he had died to himself as he was “buried with Christ” in the waters of baptism over eight years ago!
I want to tell you another story. It’s about my wife’s Uncle Jimmy, who lives in Columbia, Tennessee. He’s a great guy, an old Navy man, he never went to college, just straight to the Navy out of high school. He eloped with his girlfriend in Jenkins, Kentucky, when she was a teenager. Her name was Donna (who was a twin of my mother-in-law), and Donna left a note for her sister to tell mom and dad she had gone off to get married to Jimmy. They went on to have two girls, and he worked hard on the assembly line at the old Norwood Chevrolet plant and then the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, to support his family.
Jimmy was a great father to his daughters and husband to Donna, a good, hard-working, patriotic, blue-collar, moral guy. He just never saw the need to accept Christ into his life. When I married into this family 36 years ago, he told me he believed in God, but had never been baptized. He was a pretty quiet guy and just didn’t want the attention to be on him.
Then it happened. A few years ago, Jimmy had colon surgery. After the surgery he had to go back to the hospital so they could remove the colostomy bag and reattach his colon. They made a mistake in the hospital and fed him too soon. The food aspirated into his lungs so that he could not breathe. He was put on a ventilator for 28 days. His surgeon called in a favor to a colleague and asked him if they would try to get Jimmy off the ventilator because after 30 days, people don’t usually come off them. The doctors said it was a miracle that he was able to breathe again on his own. They had never seen someone this sick come off a ventilator. Those at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville attending to him called him their “miracle man.”
The Scales Fell Off
Jimmy knew that God was definitely his healer. He told his wife Donna that he knew it was time to give his life to his Healer. When they checked him out of Vanderbilt and headed home to Columbia, the first thing he did was call their preacher at the church they attended and asked him to meet them at the baptistry of the church. He didn’t wait until Sunday. He headed straight there.
Just two summers ago, Aunt Donna, his wife of 61 years, had a stroke and went to see Jesus. I am so glad that Jimmy has been faithful to Christ and that church the last several years of Aunt Donna’s life! Uncle Jimmy experienced what my friend Bob experienced. It’s the same thing that the apostle Paul experienced after he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus and was blind for three days. The scales fell off his eyes and he could see again, but now he had clear 20/20 spiritual vision.
What do you need to do in order to see Jesus more clearly? What do you need to do to let Jesus perform surgery on your eyes? He is waiting for you to exclaim as one of several blind men whom Jesus healed, “I can see! I can see!” Don’t wait until the end of your life. Let Jesus perform the needed vision surgery in your life today!