Monday, January 02, 2006

Learning to see

A worthy goal for the year 2006 is learning to see.

Have you ever puzzled over those statements in the Bible about people who had eyes but could not see? Tried to figure out the occasional exhortation for people to see things that are right before their eyes? It isn't really that difficult.

We use the same figure of speech still. "Open your eyes, man!" somebody tells his friend. "Can't you see she's in love with you?" Or perhaps it is a parent to a child: "The answer is already there, if you will just open your eyes to see it."

In the Bible and in everyday conversation, statements such as these seldom have anything to do with physical eyesight. The issue isn't glasses, contacts, or laser surgery. It almost always has to do with perception and understanding. It is the sort of seeing we have in mind with the word "insight."

Using 2006 as a learn-to-see year is a suggestion that each of us resolve to view reality more spiritually. Yes, we pray for the kingdom to come. But we can do more in the meanwhile than just tread water. We can submit to spiritual discipline in the same way athletes accept physical training and conditioning.

Take a sticky note and print these words in bold letters: "Your task today is to honor God in all you do!" Put the note on the first thing you will see in the morning – coffee cup, makeup or shaving mirror, computer screen. When you see that note every morning, breathe this simple prayer: "Holy God, let my eyes be open to your presence and your will throughout this day."

Then taking your shower or eating a bagel can be an exercise in gratitude. Walking outside lets you reflect on the beauty of God's creation. Hearing music or seeing children on their way to school is his invitation to joy. Getting caught in traffic can be turned into a prayer that God teach you patience. Dealing with students, clients, or colleagues can be your opportunity to serve them in Christ's name. Celebrate their successes. Be a friend in their distress or discouragement.

Before going to bed each night – perhaps with these two questions written on a bookmark in your Bible – ask: (1) When did I feel most alive to God and others today? (2) When did I most feel like life was being drained from me? End your day by thanking God for the former and surrendering the latter to his grace.

This is no "magic formula" for spirituality. It is nothing more nor less than the daily routine of many Christians whose goal is to grow in likeness to Jesus.

This simple plan could open your eyes to things you have been missing.

Reprinted from Rubel Shelly's FAX of Life.