Friday, March 26, 2010

seeing through a glass dimly

I was standing in line at a nearby optical center, waiting for my number to be called, when I saw my optometrist step out of his office in his long white coat. Curious to know whether I might be a good candidate for lasik surgery, I approached him and asked whether he remembered our consultation from the week before.

“Of course I remember,” he said, smiling, “You’re the one with very near-sighted vision.”

In a flash of recognition, the obvious meaning of the term “near-sighted,” which I had never really stopped to think about or seen written on a page, became suddenly clear: being near-sighted literally means your visual capacity is restricted to objects which are very near. How was it I had lived so long - thirty years! - without realizing this?

But as a child I never understood the term. I can see just fine close up, I used to think, it's when I try to focus on the far-away chalkboard that I start to squint.

I assumed the diagnostic label should have been written in negative, instead of positive terms: in fact, I was "far-blinded" or "distance-impaired."

To this day my vision remains crystalline to within five inches of my face; beyond that, objects are a blur; people appear like “trees walking around,” and I am literally helpless without my glasses.

By the time the man behind the counter finally called my number, I was deep in thought: I realized I am not only biologically near-sighted, I am spiritually near-sighted. That the temporal and spiritual are fused. Scripture affirms that God willfully created me this way - for “we see through a glass dimly;" that is, we were made to walk by faith and not by sight.

I realized, too, that there exists a kind of geographic security that is independent of whether you know where you are, or how to read a map.

Audrey is only dimly aware that we live in a place called ‘Arizona’ and that it is different from other places like ‘Portland’ or ‘Pittsburg.’ I’m not even sure she knows the difference between boys and girls let alone what street we live on… But she knows me; and when she lays her weary head down on her pillow at night she believes beyond speaking that I will be there when she wakes up in the morning; and that she can trust me to guide her through the day.

In the same way, my Compass is a Person: Jesus Christ. And He not only gives me vision to see just enough space in front of me to take the next step, He promises there is no place He will ask me to go where He won't go with me. That is part of what the crucifixion accomplished, after all.

Thus from a spiritual standpoint, my limitation is also a blessing, making it possible for me to learn to trust God.

And while it is true that I cannot apprehend what heartaches or triumphs are waiting wrapped up in my tomorrows, Jesus can. Jesus sees and knows all. And though I may not “see” Christ as crisply and solidly as I see my reflection in the mirror, I know that He sees me – and with more depth and insight than I will ever see myself.

What is more, while I cannot see into my future, I can, in a very real if mysterious sense, “see” Jesus. I see Him in the Scriptures; I hear His Voice in my heart; and every moment presents me with the opportunity to cling fast to His hand just as Audrey clings to mine.


Joseph Anfuso said...

Beautifully written, Heather, and so true. As a wise woman of faith, you're setting a clear example for your beautiful children, and others, too, I'm sure. I love you, and am so proud of you.

Lindsay said...

Love this!! (And as a side note, Brody keeps pointing to Florida on his map placemat and tells anyone who'll listen that "this is Miami where daddy lives"...I'm not sure how many times I'm going to have to correct him on the difference between "visiting for meetings" and "living" before he gets it!)