Eye Troubles

Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word. – Psalm 119:18 TLB

I haven’t had a prescription change for my glasses for years, so when my vision became increasingly blurry, I thought that was the problem.

But no.

“I can change your prescription,” my eye doctor told me recently, “but that will improve your vision only 20 to 30 percent. The problem is cataracts.”

Oh, the joys of growing old.

While I knew I had cataracts for several years, they weren’t bad enough cause any problems besides a slight blurring of my vision, which my glasses corrected – to a point. But as the cataracts progressively worsened and blocked more and more light, they began to interfere with my everyday life. Simple things I took for granted became a struggle.

For example, I can’t recognize faces until the person is almost right in front of me. So if you see me and it appears that I’m ignoring you, I’m not. I just can’t recognize you or see the smile on your face.

Seeing words clearly on the computer monitor is another challenge. I’m a perfectionist, and the number of typos getting past these once eagle eyes irks me to no end. (Yes, I edit emails, text messages, Facebook posts, and other casual forms of written communication.)

I won’t drive at night these days, as the glare of oncoming headlights makes it even more difficult to see. Driving during the day isn’t much better, since I can’t read the road signs until I’m up upon them.

Reading the scoreboard at my grandson’s baseball games is just as frustrating. And you know how big those are.

But this will all change after surgery. I’ll be able to see clearly again! Hallelujah!

We can have spiritual cataracts. They, too, grow slowly, over time. At first we aren’t aware anything is clouding our spiritual vision, but eventually everything that was once clear becomes blurry.

What causes spiritual cataracts?

Many things – and they all block God’s light from entering your spirit.

First on the list is sin. Sin causes us to see things as we want to see them, not as God does. We lose our divine perspective. The cataract gets worse when we deny sin’s existence, continue to do what we know we shouldn’t, and when we justify our wrongdoing (wrong actions, wrong thoughts wrong attitudes).

Another cause of spiritual cataracts is doubt. Doubt, put simply, is not believing God, His Word, His promises, His goodness. When you doubt, God, you are saying, in effect, “I don’t trust You.”

Close to this is the cataract of cynicism. Life has slammed you once too many times, and you’ve lost the ability to see good in any person, situation, or experience. Bitterness builds up, and you erect a wall around your heart, refusing to let anyone in for fear of getting hurt again.

Lack of passion for God and His Word is another cause of spiritual cataracts. When I first became a believer, I was on fire for God. When I read His Word, understanding, excitement, and enthusiasm filled me. Joy overflowed. But as time went on and life happened, the fire sputtered.

Like with any fire, you can’t expect it to burn on its own. A fire needs fuel. And that fuel is taking the time for God – to talk to Him in prayer, to read His Word whether or not I understand it, to consciously be aware of His abiding presence in my life.

This leads to my final cause of spiritual cataracts: busyness. I must carve out time to sit down, read the Word, and talk to God. While it could be any time, I find morning, before I begin my day, is best. Because if I don’t, I get so caught up crossing things off my to-do list, the day is over and I haven’t taken time with God.

I keep a quote by Hudson Taylor on the front page of my prayer journal: “Do not have your concert first and tune your instruments afterward. Begin the day with God.”

The remedy for spiritual cataracts is the same as for physical ones: Removal. Confess sin, dispel doubt, squash cynicism, starve apathy, and boot out busyness.

Eye trouble? Here are some Scriptures to help you:

“Fix my eyes on Your ways” (Ps. 119:15 ESV).

“Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word” (Ps. 119:18 TLB).

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things” (Ps. 119:37 ESV).

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see You. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 119:10–40

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Image in public domain.

Boundaries and Balance, Part 2: Sabbath Margins

 

 

I don’t do this often enough–take an afternoon through the week to pause my work button and enjoy a baseball game on a beautiful summer afternoon.

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” –Jesus, as quoted in Mark 2:27 NIV

What image comes to mind when you hear the word “Sabbath”?

A day of rest and relaxation? A day to restore spent batteries? A day to finally schedule those fun activities you don’t have time for the rest of the week? A day to worship God? A nice, long, delicious Sunday afternoon nap? Parking it before the television to watch the game? Or a day to catch up with all the work you couldn’t fit into Monday through Saturday?

For me, Sabbath meant a day of rest, and that, traditionally, was Sunday. And only Sunday.

So when I read Priscilla Shirer’s view of Sabbath in her Bible study Breathe, her words stopped me in my Sabbath tracks: “God always and eternally intended Sabbath to be a lifestyle—an attitude, a perspective, an orientation for living that enables us to govern our lives and steer clear of bondage.” (emphasis mine)

What bondage? I live in a free country. That makes me free, right?

Wrong. There are many things that can enslave me.

Like to-do lists. I cram too many “must-do” items in my daily schedule then feel like a big, fat failure when I don’t accomplish everything on the list.

“How can I get everything done on my to-do list?” I once lamented.

“Put less on your list,” someone answered.

I wish I would’ve heeded that advice when it was given to me. Instead I developed a daily and weekly schedule using an Excel spreadsheet. To which I am a slave.

Oh, I get such pleasure in crossing items off! So much so that I’ll remember something that needs done that isn’t on the list, do it, then add it to the list so I can cross it off. That’s pretty pathetic.

We become dependent on that to which we are addicted. I depended on crossing off items on the list to make me feel good about myself, to feel productive, perhaps to give my life meaning. But all I was doing was spinning my wheels and burning myself out. No wonder I felt overwhelmed, plumbed out, ready to quit the ministries to which God called me.

I needed rest, but, more important, I needed to examine my unrealistic lists and schedules and determine, prayerfully, what to cut and what to keep.

And I needed to set what Priscilla calls Sabbath margins around what remained—establish boundaries so I can have time for Shabbat. Boundaries, remember, aren’t burdens, but gifts.

Shabbat comes from a Hebrew word that means to cease, to stop, to rest—verbs that require decisive action.

A day on the Glendale Lake with our daughter, her boys, and our youngest son was just the Shabbat I needed at the end of July.

God created Sabbath on the seventh day to give the rest of what He created balance. A life without Sabbath, without rest, is out of balance. Sabbath is not an option but an integral part of life. A lifestyle, not a day.

I’m still wrapping my mind around Sabbath being a lifestyle.

As I examine my schedule and place margins around those activities I choose to keep, I’m beginning to understand that Sabbath is not just Sunday but every day of the week.

Where do you need to put Sabbath margins?

Father, I pray for guidance, wisdom, and discernment as I continue to follow Your lead of establishing Sabbath margins in my life so that nothing holds me captive but You. Amen.

Day trips are one our favorite ways to spend the Sabbath–guaranteed to keep me away from those vicious to-do lists. Dean and I took a day trip last Sunday afternoon to the Sherman Lighthouse in Tionesta, Pa.
Oh, we have so much fun taking selfies!

NOTE: Next week, we’ll continue the series “Boundaries and Balance” by examining other-people boundaries.

Read and meditate on Genesis 2:1–3; Exodus 20:8–11

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.