WHAT ARE YOU REALLY SEEING?
By Jean Jantzen
To a Dear Friend,
I had a stroke this past week. What a surprise! And it shouldn’t have been; my mother had one and her mother had had one. During the ambulance ride, I told God that this was not a good time because my husband still needed me. Nevertheless, I also told God I knew I was in good hands. An indescribable peace descended upon me and wrapped me in a warm blanket. And I knew everything would be okay.
Later, I wondered what I could learn from this experience. The stroke really affected my vision. So I asked God, “What was I not seeing?” He certainly had gotten my attention. And it had to do with vision. Most of our lives we open our eyes and take for granted what we see. For the first time I actually had to work at focusing in on what I was looking at; it reminded me of our precious truth. We just take it for granted without giving it much thought. The only time I could really focus was when I was sitting still and actually thinking about what I was seeing. Moving around was really disorienting.
I went swimming two days after my stroke and found that, if I could stay focused on the black line, I would get to the other end of the pool, okay. But it was a struggle to stay on the path. I swam like a drunken sailor. What I found most helpful was a word of encouragement along the way. It was food to my hungry soul. It has kept me moving forward. In fact, I think it is the most important thing. No wonder Jesus talks so much about us loving our brethren and giving them encouragement when they need it. It has helped me to continue putting one foot in front of the other.
Seeing is more complex than I thought. Both eyes need to focus in on the subject at the same moment. It is confusing when each eye kind of “does its own thing.” Thus, seeing took concentration and effort on my part. In fact, it played me out. We can never take the truth for granted as it might slip away when we are not expecting it (or maybe when we don’t ask the right questions). We need to thank God for His truth and for His concern for us every day of our lives. And we need to study while we can still see. And we need to sit still and know God. I think I finally learned the lesson of keeping still and knowing God but, still I hadn’t discovered what the full problem was.
Be still and know that I am God – What is its origin?
“Be still and know that I am God!” is the first part of Psalm 46:10. Here, the word “still” comes from a Hebrew word meaning to “let go” or “release.” The meaning would be best understood to say “cause yourself to become restrained or to let go.” In other words, we need to come to a place where we are willing to submit ourselves to God and acknowledge that He is in sovereign control. (Bible Gateway.com)
”Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10 Amplified)
I learned that when you can’t see, nothing else matters, just like when you can’t see the truth—nothing else matters. You have to keep focused in on Jesus Christ all the time in order to really see. And unless I was still, I could not really see… it was just a jumbled blur, a distorted view. I could not keep my sense of direction, nor maintain my balance. I needed to acknowledge that I was dependent on Him to guide me. I also was content, and trying hard to find joy in the fact that God was interested enough in me to work out the finer details of my imperfect character…
Surprise, surprise! He found I still had some pride and vanity lurking. It took me awhile to figure this out and actually see it for what it was. My mind wanted to go into denial. You see, it’s hard to admit one is getting old. I kinda prided myself that I am fit for my age. Though, in the overall scheme of things, I guess it’s not all that important, is it? But where did pride come in? I looked at my “near 70-year-old body” in the mirror and couldn’t see where pride came in? Hey! Quit laughing. …I am trying to be honest…. Our mind plays horrible tricks on us. Oh, and the spiritual lessons that take a lifetime to learn. And the help we need to learn those lessons. Evidently, this was a lesson God wanted me to learn — and learn now! But then I had to ask, “I know pride puffs up and I know God hates pride, but why would I still have some?” Then I read what David said about pride:
“In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” (Psalm 10:4)
“Sinful pride is undue self-esteem or self-love. St. Augustine defined pride as: “An appetite for perverse excellence.” Sinful pride seeks attention and honor. Sinful pride competes with God, instead of obeying Him. Ooooh, I didn’t like that description. Then I read Peter’s admonition:
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries…Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:1-4,12,13).
He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (Luke 13:24)
With limited vision and not keeping my eye on the goal it was very difficult to stay on that straight path. It was very easy to become disoriented and bump into things. I did not realize some of these things, so it has been a growing experience. We really need encouragement. I hadn’t realized just how much it means to receive encouragement when going through a trial. It’s a very lonely and difficult road without it. And I will never take my physical or spiritual vision for granted again. Yet, I am forcing my eyes to work. I go by the adage “if you don’t use it you lose it”.
And I also don’t believe everything the doctor says. He wanted me to take Lipitor. “Have you heard of the side effects?” I asked him. I told him I don’t eat anything that encourages cholesterol, yet he told me that as you get older your body produces bad cholesterol (so our body and mind works against us)…another surprise! So instead, I went to the health food store and got a natural herbal remedy that lowers cholesterol without the side effects. I was complaining to my chiropractor that keeping fit doesn’t pay off and he said it did. He told me I could be in a wheelchair instead of walking around. So I quit complaining and tried to be more thankful for what I did have instead of what I didn’t. Besides he told me it’s not about whether you win or lose, its how you play the game that counts. And how true that is. Jesus said to them,
“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (Luke 13:24)
I am encouraged by this promise, however:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 LT).
So, I will repent of my vanity and pride and acknowledge what a high price Christ paid to forgive me. I need to be more concerned with my upcoming glorious spiritual body instead of the broken down one I have now. So, my little bit of advice is—if you have any pride get over it. It would be easier than what I had to go through in order to learn this. And I mistakenly had thought most of my pride had been overcome… foolish woman that I am. I also pray for that godly humility that we all desperately need. Anyway, this was difficult to write, but I wanted to share this humbling experience with you. It is humbling to know that in His great Love I am perfected. As we all are. May God bless and keep you.
Your Sister in Christ Jesus,