Earlier this week (on the very same day) two different individuals asked me if I had lost weight. Following the question before I could answer was the comment, “You look great!” I so wish the answer to the question about losing weight would be “yes”, but that is not the case.
Our environment seems to continuously remind us to be aware of how we look, what we weigh, and how healthy we are. In the midst of fast food ads and commercials, we are bombarded with ads for gym equipment and places we can go to workout or hire a personal trainer. And if that isn’t enough, there are all those ads and commercials for medications for all the things that appear to ail us.
There is no question of our need to be good stewards of our bodies since we only get one of them and need to take care of it and make it last as long as possible.
We all probably read more labels than we did 20 years ago and many of us wear some sort of tracking device to remind us of how many steps we have accomplished or even how well we are sleeping. It would be marvelous indeed if all of that translated into daily choices that produced toned, slim, muscular bodies.
We keep spending money trying to find a shortcut to that goal, but falling short much of the time. We also spend time trying to achieve the goals or at least thinking about going for a walk or a bike ride. We are tuned in even if no action steps are taken.
Some of the problem relates to what we see or don’t see when we look in the mirror and as a result, what we believe about what we see.
Perhaps the key question is this: Do we want to see?
It reminds me of the scene in a popular movie of the late 90’s, The Matrix, where Morpheus and Neo are conversing. Neo is frightened and given a chance to discover what the real world is. Morpheus gives him a choice between a blue pill and a red pill. It’s not an easy decision for Neo.
Ultimately, Morpheus says it is time for a decision:
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and you believe…whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
Scripture asks us often what we want to see? Our answer is impacted by the condition of our heart. Is it open or closed, soft or hard, cynical or idealistic?
John Eldredge wrote a sobering statement in Waking the Dead:
“We are losing heart. All of us. Daily. It is the single most unifying quality shared by the human race on the planet at this time. We are losing – or have already lost – heart.”
That commentary reveals a great deal about us. It also points to what we believe. And what we believe will point to whether or not we hope and what we hope in.
If our hearts are hardened, closed, or cynical we will not be able to see or believe in truth and hope in the midst of the chaos and darkness that swirls around us. As believers, we will start to look more like the world because our hearts will be filled with fear, hopelessness, anger, prejudice, hate, bitterness, and all the things that pull us closer to the abyss. We will feel alone. We may feel lost.
After Jesus died though some celebrated, others were broken by sorrow and their hopes and beliefs were in tatters. Doubt was everywhere and it was hard for the disciples to see in the shadowy darkness and gloom. Their hearts were closing.
We see that as two of the disciples are walking along the road to Emmaus talking about what had happened. They were walking away (already seven miles outside of Jerusalem) from hope and from the horror of the cross. When another man joins them and asks why they are so downhearted, the disciples are shocked the person does not know about all that has just happened to Jesus.
As they recount the story of what they have just experienced, their eyes do not see who is walking with them until Jesus responds opening scripture to them about what the prophets of old had said would happen. Then their eyes and hearts are opened.
Things are not what they seem.
What is the condition of our hearts today?
The answer to the question is crucial. It will determine if our eyes are fully open and our hearts are fully awake and alive to see beyond the haunting headlines, the fear that would take our heart from us as the darkness swirls around us.
We have forgotten (if we ever knew) what we simply must remember.
“This is precisely what the Bible has warned us about, all these years: that we live in two worlds – or better, in one world with two parts, one part that we can see and one part that we cannot see. We are urged, for our own welfare, to act as though the unseen world (the rest of reality) is, in fact, more weighty and more real and dangerous than the part of reality that we can see. The lesson from the story of the Emmaus Road – the lesson the whole Bible is trying to get across – begins with this simple truth: things are not what they seem. There is more here than meets the eye. Far more. That is Eternal Truth Number One.” John Eldredge