Saturday, November 22, 2014

New glasses

About fifteen years ago, my eyesight, which had always been excellent, started to deteriorate. I started getting headaches from eye strain. I hated going out after dark because the headlights hurt my eyes.

I really didn't understand that my eyesight was the problem. I just knew that I didn't want to read or travel or do anything I enjoyed doing, and didn't quite know why. 

My husband put it together - he'd had glasses since he was in grade three. He suggested I see an optometrist.

The rest was history. I had an astigmatism, which later (about six years later) developed into the need to wear bifocals. 

After I got used to my new glasses, it was amazing to me how much I had been missing as time wore on, how slowly and insidiously my world had gotten more and more small. I had to put more and more effort into doing the things that came so naturally to me after I got my glasses: read, drive, enjoy a sunny day, look up at the stars... and the list went on. Suddenly, it was as though I'd been given my life back - I wondered why I hadn't gone to the eye doctor much sooner.

Now, I can't imagine my life without my glasses. It's unthinkable for me to get up and leave the house without putting them on. They help me see the world, they protect me from the biting wind, they keep me from getting eye strain headaches.

Why am I talking about this? 

I see a spiritual parallel here. I needed glasses but I was unaware of it. I was trying to do things that became more and more impossible for me to do, and the harder I tried, the worse I felt. 

Once I looked through the new lenses, all became clear. I didn't have to strive and strain anymore. 

In this parallel, my state before going to get glasses was how I spent most of my Christian life. Like those around me and like my leaders, I was trying to produce those end results I kept hearing about - love your neighbour, read the Bible, pray, live in victory, share your faith - and the more I strained and tried, the less I could see clearly. 

Trying to manufacture the life I had heard about and read about - the victorious life that I was taught came through obedience - only ended up with me being frustrated, discouraged and eventually resentful. "Is this all there is?" I wondered to myself. 

Oh, there were times I lived in what I called "victory." Basically that looked like grit-your-teeth obedience with no divine power to carry that out. And I did have some successes. But they were temporary, and I would eventually crash and burn. And then I would blame myself for not "doing it right." 

Photo "Brunette With Folded Arms Posing
courtesy of stockimages at
What a headache.

It wasn't until I began to realize the depths of the grace that Jesus died to give me that I started to walk into freedom. Unconditional love. Unconditional. Without conditions. That meant - and the glasses went on - that I didn't have to strive! I didn't HAVE to knock myself out in failure after failure after failure, wondering where the joy and all that 'abundant life' was. I was focusing on the end result, the things I was told all of my Christian life that I needed to DO. 

Instead, all I needed to do was put on the glasses of grace - to focus on Jesus, on His love, on His grace, and - as simplistic as that sounds - THERE was where the abundant life started. He loved me. He LOVES me! And I just fell in love with Him, and keep falling in love with Him more and more, the more I realize how deeply He loves me. That's it, that's all. Again and again and again. Deeper every. single. time.

Out of that love (that came from Him in the first place) flows all the other things I had missed and wondered where they were. And oh yes, listening to His voice (because I love to hear it) and doing what He says when He says it. But that's no longer my focus. My focus is HIM. All it ever needed to be was HIM, all along.

It boggles my mind that for so many years I missed something so incredibly simple. 

And now, living in grace and growing more and more in love with the One who IS grace, it amazes me how people miss it! And then I remember that that was me, not all that long ago. 

And sometimes it still is me. But it's like ... it's like when I am tired on a Saturday morning and come out of the bedroom and start puttering around with some household chores ... and then I wonder why my head is starting to hurt. My hand goes up to rub my head ... and then I realize that I'm not wearing my glasses. I forgot to put them on. 

So I put them on and soon the headache is gone. I don't waste time beating myself up that I forgot them. I just put them on. And I can see without straining. That's it.

That's how grace works too. It's always there, so much so that I forget it's there, it's such a part of my everyday. Like my glasses. 

Like Jesus. 
How cool is that?

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