When you flip open your eyelids in the morning and take stock of your environment, you have actually completed an exceptional feat; one which most of us take for granted. The body is a marvelous instrument. The process by which light is projected into the eye and reflected back through a complex interaction between the brain, nerve impulses and the various chambers of the eye is truly amazing.
It is also unique to each individual. While all of us may be looking at the same scene, we do not all see things in the same way. The interpretation which occurs in each of us gives us a peculiar vantage point. Our communication reflects this reality when we say things like, “I see that differently than you do.”
The ability to see is not limited to the physical realm. We are in our essence spiritual beings. We can also see with the eyes of our spirit, an ability which is sometimes referred to as our intuition. We have all experienced to varying degrees an instinctive reaction to an individual when we first meet them that has nothing to do with our personal interactions. Mothers know when something is wrong with a child even when the baby cannot speak.
This morning, my meditation was from one of the books which chronicled the exploits of various ancient Israeli kings and the prophets who operated during their reigns. I was reading about a military assault against Israel by the army from Aram. As the campaign gained traction, the King of Aram soon became uncomfortably aware that his plans and movements seemed to be closely monitored and communicated with the King of Israel. Convinced that there was a traitor in his camp, he confronted his leaders. They told him that Elisha, a prophet literally had ‘eyes on the inside’ and this was the reason why the King of Aram’s plans were continually revealed in advance to the King of Israel.
Elisha was not physically present, yet he could see realities that were unseen. The King and his army thought they saw. They were convinced that Israel was in a pitiful state and would easily succumb to the vastness of their military might. In a fascinating twist, the tables are turned in a most improbable way. As the army of Aram begins to march towards Israel, Elisha’s servant cries out in dismay because his physical eyes see the destruction which is about to be visited on them.
But Elisha asks God to open his servants eyes. Eyes that seemed to be open, but were actually blind. When the servants eyes were opened, he was stunned to see that the army coming against Israel was nothing in comparison to the spiritual army that was guarding Israel. The story ends with the army being struck with blindness and led by Elisha right into the presence of the King they thought they had come to capture!
The experience of both the army and the servant of Elisha are symbolic of situations which we experience. We are prone to being blinded by arrogance and pride like the soldiers and by fear like Elisha’s servant. Both types of blindness are rooted in ignorance of who God is and how he operates. The Bible tells us that the ‘Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom’. When blind eyes are opened, we become aware of how truly helpless our situation is without God and how powerful God is within our midst. He is truly able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond what we could even think of, see or imagine.
Right seeing operates through different filters. These are the filters of wisdom, love, compassion and grace. Right seeing enables us to have the courage and boldness to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives with confidence that He is able to see us through.
In the final scene from the story as the King of Israel finds himself faced with an entire army that has effectively surrendered to him, Elisha helps him to see that the right response is not vengeance, but to bless those who are enemies of Israel with kindness and a meal, sending them home unharmed.
During a time in which our nation is inflamed by the hurt of racism and perceived injustice, and many are viewing through lenses clouded by hurt and hate, let us pray that we be given the grace to see aright. That we have the courage and boldness to enact that which brings wholeness and healing rather than division and strife.
To Read the entire story of the Elisha and the army from Aram, click here. (2 Kings 6: 8-22)
Everyday, we are faced with decisions. Most of us want to make good decisions. Sometimes, poor decisions are made willfully, but at other times they are the product of our ignorance and immaturity. One of the most powerful passages of scripture is Psalm 25 which begins with a plea to God to show us His ways. Here are some thoughts about the Ways of the Lord which were a part of my morning meditation today.
The Ways of the Lord
The Way of Truth
Psalm 25:4-5 “Show me your ways, O Lord. Teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long”
Meditation: I need the Father to show me the way. My human frailty often fails to discern what is right and best. God promises to be with me. His presence with me throughout the days is there to guide and sustain my hope and trust in him.
The Way of Mercy and Love
Psalm 25:6-7 ” Remember O Lord your great mercy and love for they are from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways. According to your love remember me for you are good O Lord.”
Meditation: In contrast to God’s way, my ways which are often rooted in rebellion and immaturity, are laced with trauma and tragedy. Father, thank you for your mercy and love for me. Please deliver me from the treachery of my ways.
The Way of Humility
Psalm 25: 8-10 “Good and upright is the Lord, therefore he instructs sinners in his way. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”
Meditation: God’s path for me is good and upworthy. It is available at all times, but especially when I miss the mark due to sin. In fact, the consequence of sin is part of the instruction that God uses to help us understand and desire a better way. The way of God is most readily accessed through humility. Through humility, we are in a posture that enables us to gain a better understanding of what is right and true. Help me Father to desire and to walk in humility.
The Way of Faithfulness
Psalm 25:10 “All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.”
Meditation: God’s way is full of love and faithfulness. God is trustworthy and will always keep his end of the bargain. When I am led in his way, I can rest – assured of the knowledge the he always honors the demands of his covenant. I can relax in the knowledge of being confident that he ‘has my back’.
The Way of Wisdom
Psalm 25:11-14 ” Who then is the person that fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity and his descendents will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”
Meditation: The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10) When we approach and depend on God with reverential awe and respect, we are promised the grace of Godly, individualized instruction concerning the way God has designed and designated in particular for us. This way, created by a loving Heavenly Father, leads to true prosperity and blessing in our lives and the lives of our families. This is a very powerful and precious promise.
Prayer: Father, please keep me focused on you and your way today. It is only you who can release my feet from the snares and entanglements that have imprisoned me due to taking the wrong paths. Amen.
On Savoring Abundance – God is a God of Abundance. Abundant goodness, Abundant mercy, Abundant kindness, Abundant power, Abundant wisdom, Abundant creativity, Abundant intelligence, Abundant compassion, Abundant provision, Abundant love, Abundant LIFE.
Abundance like the air we breath. No matter how much we huff and puff, we simply can’t use it all up. The air around us surrounds us generously and effortlessly.
Today, let’s embrace the challenge to take some time to savor the abundance of God. Let us move intentionally out of a mentality of scarcity towards an attitude which more closely resembles that of our Creator who delights in and cares about the well being of His creation
Firewalking is the act of walking over a bed of hot embers or stones. It is a practice that has existed for thousands of years. It was certainly a part of the broader ancient culture in Biblical times.
In Isaiah 43:2 the prophet gave the people of Israel some pointed words of encouragement. He said: “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
Most of us don’t relish the prospect of putting the soles of our feet on the top of smoldering red embers, but there is a certain fascination of observing someone walk through fire and emerge apparently unscathed. We wonder…how?
The expectation from the passage above is that we will pass through circumstances which threaten to make us feel as though we are being drowned and walk through situations in life which have the capacity to consume us with the fire of affliction.
But, there is a way of passing through these intrepid dangers which guarantees that the perceived assault will purify and cleanse rather than create unparalled destruction. This is the powerful promise from God which Isaiah references. God promises to be with us. God’s presence with us is the difference because it embodies all that God is. God’s wisdom, God’s protection, God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s kindness, God’s grace, God’s courage, God’s patience, God’s goodness…
However, this is an experienced reality, not simply a matter of mental acquiescence. This does up the ante a little. But when we have walked through stuff, and can look back on God’s grace, it creates in me an overwhelming sense of gratitude and humility about what it means to walk through fire and floods; knowing that there is no way that I can make it. I am simply not strong enough. But with God, all things are possible. And that is enough.
When you love someone enough to let them go, it does not mean that you ignore the pain & suffering that has occurred in the relationship or that you somehow develop amnesia about why it was necessary to part company.
The greatest service we can perform on behalf of someone who has wounded us to to let them ‘go’ and place them in God’s hands. It is not only the safest place to be, but it is the only space in the universe which deals through the hands of justice and mercy exactly what is necessary within the situation.
Even when the process may seem to take years, always remember – God knows, God cares and He will do right by you. Eventually. Always.
Two champions, each a heavy weight legend in their own right faced off in the ring again. It seemed like a lifetime ago that the world watched the intense spectacle of one man being so enraged at his eminent defeat that he bit into not one, but two ears of his opponent.
The stage this week, was the Oprah Winfrey show where Mike Tyson had bared his soul in an earlier interview about the mistakes and triumphs of his life & explained as best he could, what was going on in his mind during that fight. His honesty was profoundly captivating.
As Evander Holyfield walked onto the stage, it seemed that the intervening years had been somewhat kinder to him than the tortured existence that Mike Tyson had experienced. We all held our breath just a little…what would they do. Afterall, it’s not everyday that one meets on a public forum, the person who undermines the integrity of a harsh and violent sport by literally sinking his teeth into your skin.
It’s easy to watch a show by merely skimming the surface. But, in some ways, the experience of these fighters is almost impossible for most of us to begin to comprehend.
However, we can all understand what it means to get up and keep on fighting even after you’re down for the count. And that’s why on a primal level, many can relate to the sport of boxing. All of us have experienced a knock-down in life. Some of us may be there right now. It’s not easy and never pretty.
But it’s what you do next that matters. When Tyson recognized that he was not going to win, he struck out and bit his opponent. His rage blinded him and demeaned his prior accomplishments and then spiraled out of control on a journey that descended into the hell of drugs and prison.
But that crazed individual was not the one on the stage of the show. Tyson demonstrated that none of us has to stay down, we can choose to get up, own our mistakes, apologize and strive to do better. Several times during the interview, he choked up with emotion and Oprah captured the intensity of his yearning with a question…”Can you feel the love directed towards you right now?”
It was obviously hard for Tyson to really acknowledge how powerful and affecting this new round in his life is proving to be. And his journey has lessons for all of us. None of us gets to exit life without failure. We will all participate in things we are not proud of. That’s simply the essential nature of sin.
However, we can choose to get up and keep on going. And we may be surprised like Tyson was to find out that support may come to us from unexpected places as we humble ourselves and admit to a cry for assistance.