Do You See Anything?

British Columbia, Canada

What would it have been like to be one of Jesus’ disciples, walking along with Him on the dusty roads of Galilee? What was it like to see what they saw?


When I consider those questions, it seems easy to understand why they would have written as much as they could in the gospels to give us glimpses of their journey to give us help for our own. The Lord used each of the disciples’ voices to try to give us a fuller orbed understanding of the story of His ministry here on earth.


Time and again if we take a moment to imagine it as we are reading, we can come up beside them on the dusty road and possibly get a glimpse of what it must have felt like. Often it seemed that even though they were there, they were often seeing and yet not seeing at the same time. Little wonder that our vision can be blurry.


Reading in Mark 8 today I see Jesus teaching the crowds and then expressing concern for how hungry and weary they must all be. What a gift of hospitality He had. He never failed to see to every aspect of those He sought to reach and in this passage He multiplies seven loaves to feed the crowd that had been gathered with Him for three days.


He feeds their spirits and hearts and then He gives them food for their physical hunger.


Later in that chapter they all arrive at Bethsaida and some friends of a blind man bring him to Jesus and beg that He heal the man. They have heard of His power and miracles. There was no question He could, if only He would.


Jesus responds and in this healing, He puts spit in the man’s eyes as He lays hands on him. Then He asks him if he can see anything.


I can only imagine the man squinting and squeezing his eyes opened and closed trying to regain perfect sight; but no matter how hard he tries, he tells Jesus he sees men who look like walking trees.


So Jesus lays hands on him again and when the man looks carefully, he discovers he has perfect twenty/twenty vision.


Sometimes He healed instantly and sometimes He showed us that healing could be progressive. Commentaries make note that He was also showing the disciples (and us) that spiritual blindness might not be healed instantly.


What hope that gives me! My limited vision also can be healed to see more clearly, to understand more deeply, to know Him more completely, to begin to see more as He sees.


When Jesus looked at someone, He saw beyond what everyone else saw.


Remember. He looked at the woman at the well and saw not only what she had done, but also what she could be. He looked up in a tree and saw a wee man; a tax collector hated by one and all, and yet saw the hunger in his heart and went to his house for dinner. He noticed the widow dropping in the two coins and considered her sacrifice.


He saw what lay beneath the surface and saw possibility, a precious soul needing healing. He never diminished those others passed over or shunned. He respected each one.


What do we see?


How do we learn to see more like that?


Maybe we who know Him need another touch of His hands to heal us so our eyes and hearts can see beyond what we see now when we look at those around us.


Ken Gire writes in Windows of the Soul, “we must learn to look with more than just our eyes and listen with more than just our ears”.


To do that, we need to put down our phones, lay aside our assumptions, deal a death blow to our prejudices, pride, and biases, and see in ordinary moments each day that we have the opportunity to see things of eternal worth, people of eternal value. It will take time.


There are moments when we slow our pace and get glimpses of that through artists, music, or written words. We get bigger views when we peer closely at the raindrops on a lacey spider web or observe a mountain range come into view. We see it in a star-spangled sky or a rosy sunset.


But do we also see what He saw when we look at others?

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No Longer Paradise



In one moment, with one decision, shadowy death came into paradise and what had been the perfect Garden of Eden. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, but the scheme of the serpent to award him a kingdom in this world was granted when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of a tree forbidden to them.


The result?


Paul expresses it in Colossians 1:21 when he speaks of alienation from God. That wording means Adam and Eve (and also we) were objectively banished from God (not simply the Garden) through the barrier that God’s justice had set against the sin of disunion with Him. This is what caused spiritual death.


God had breathed into Adam and Eve “the breath of life” that united them to Him in oneness. The choice they made when they succumbed to the serpent’s guile caused the Spirit to be divorced from the body, the very definition of death.


Their one momentary lapse affects every person born on the earth since then. Satan stalks the earth, possessive of his union with man, and determined to assure his kingdom is not diminished. In his arrogance he believed he could seduce the Son of Man, Jesus, when He came to earth. Jesus, one in the Trinity, had left heaven, would He not want the power on the earth Satan believed he could offer Him?


But Satan never understood love, that perfect love of God that he abandoned in a bid for power that resulted in what sent him to earth seeking a kingdom of his own.


Even when Adam and Eve broke covenant with God on their part for the false promises of Satan, God still loved them.


As Dave Hickman writes in Closer Than Close:


“…while disunion spreads across the whole earth, God continues to chase after that which He lost at the Fall—union with His bride. Although humans divorced themselves from God, God remained faithful, committed to the union they once shared.”


Few passages of scripture describe this so well as the book of Hosea. The story illustrates His faithfulness as He instructs Hosea to marry a prostitute and who then returns to her adulterous lifestyle after the wedding. Hosea, God’s prophet, is instructed to go after her and bring her back to himself.


And so God has done that with each of us.


His mission? To once again be in union with man.


His plan was one Satan could not have imagined or begun to understand. Satan would even believe despite what he saw with Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, and the rest of the patriarchs that union (re-union) was not possible. If God loved them and gave them laws to follow and sacrifices to make, fine! But what He had hoped for in the beginning when He breathed the breath of Life into Adam could not be undone. Of that, Satan was certain.


Satan’s pride forever caused him to miss the vibrant living truth of God and the power of His love for His creation.


When he did discover the plan, he was determined to upend it. What a preposterous idea! Jesus in perfect union in the Trinity would leave heaven and be planted by the Spirit in the womb of a woman as an infant? Certainly not likely and yet, Satan knew if God pulled it off it would change everything.


Jesus would have all power and be carried by a woman just like the one who had betrayed the union and covenant with God in the first place. He could not let anything to chance.


Max Lucado depicts the struggle in the heavenlies over the story of the Spirit hovering over the woman, Mary, chosen by God to bear His Son, in exciting images in Cosmic Christmas (later reprinted as The Angel’s Story).


 Of course we know the devices of the enemy do not succeed. Jesus is born and all the efforts of Satan through Herod fail completely. But Satan is determined and waits for another chance. He could not comprehend salvation and how it could be possible.


I wonder if we truly understand it. In Closer Than Close Dave Hickman states it clearly:


“But for salvation to be possible by faith, Jesus had to unite the fullness of humanity with the fullness of divinity within his own person. In order for human sin to be forgiven, an actual human had to die. God’s justice demanded this since it was humans who sinned and not God himself.


And yet, only one who was absolutely God could atone for sin! Therefore, Christ had to serve as an atonement (at-one-ment) uniting divinity and humanity within his person. If not, then humanity’s sin could not be divinely forgiven.”


Without this, there could be no re-union and there could be no hope for man.


What a paradox for us to long to be close or closer to the Lord when He has done everything to be as close as He can possibly be and restore us to Himself.


Is it possible Satan has sought to seduce us once again into believing He is not close, even after salvation?



Standing on Tiptoes

Photo by Valeriia Miller from Pexels


I remember so well that day some years ago when I walked down the hall at the hospital holding my grandson’s hand. What excitement and anticipation I was feeling as we went to look at his new little sister on the other side of the glass!


All the bassinets were lined up in a row facing the glass so that everyone could get a better look at these new little ones. We had both seen her the previous day, but we were back for another visit to continue to get acquainted with this new little lady with the dark hair and round cheeks.adorable-baby-cute-64242


As we stood there, my grandson inched up closer on tiptoes, holding onto the ledge at the front of the window watching his new sister as she lay sleeping. He wanted to see as much as he could even though he could not yet imagine how this sleeping beauty would change his world.


No matter what our age, there are times we all stand on our tiptoes. Most of the time, we do so because we want to be certain not to miss something, something very special.


I remember standing on tiptoes to see Santa Claus at a Christmas parade, to reach a particular book on the library shelf, to catch a glimpse of a bird’s nest resting on a tree branch near my front porch.


I also remember standing on tiptoes to give someone I love a kiss, to watch my children march into our local high school stadium for graduation, and to catch the first glimpse of the plane that carried my husband back home after fourteen months in a war zone.



When I stand on tiptoes, my heart flutters with expectation at seeing or experiencing something special that I do not want to miss. I wait for a first glimpse, a first touch, and a first sound. Everything else in my life gets suspended as I push the pause button to experience this moment. All my focus strains forward.


As I read the gospels, so often Jesus was followed or surrounded by large crowds. Certainly, many stood on tiptoes to see Him better, to hear Him more clearly, to discover who this man was, to not miss this moment. He was right there. They could see Him and hear Him. There were many who touched Him. Some came to know Him.


Even though I was not in the crowd then, I came to know Him also. Jesus is not here in person, but I read about the promise of His return.


Am I standing on tiptoes looking for Him, listening for His voice, anticipating His return?


He lives within my heart.


Each day I seek to sense His voice within me to live the day as He would want, but too often the tasks of the day dull my senses to the anticipation and excitement of seeing Him return, of hearing His voice audibly, of seeing the look in His eyes.


Today as I recalled that day at the nursery window with my grandson, I felt a flutter inside and realized that I want to be standing on tiptoes filled with anticipation when He returns. I don’t want to miss a thing about that moment!


What about you?


Are you standing on tiptoes?


What are you anticipating?


What do you want to see and hear?


Are you listening?



No One Is Immune




As I continue to reflect on my adult life that was often stressed, too busy, and left me tired in ways not replenished by a weekend of sleeping late or opting out of a committee or two, I knew a great deal about what was wrong and even some of the choices I made that brought me to that bone-tired frazzled place. A graduate program in clinical counseling reveals a lot of glaring things about yourself long before you sit down with your first client.


The hard part for me (and maybe you) was that the choices I made and the things I did were not bad things. In fact, they were good things that others were glad I was doing. They didn’t see the toll and for quite some time I didn’t see it either.


I would never have called myself especially prideful. I knew there were pockets of it, but I didn’t see it connecting to my busy, stressed, and tiring life.


Then when I was reading Hannah Anderson’s book, Humble Roots, she brought me into sharper focus.


 “But being busy with good things didn’t make me immune to pride. If anything, those of us who are busy “working for Jesus” may be the first to miss that we are struggling with pride because it can hide our good intentions.”


When I first read her words I felt something well up inside against such a suggestion. How could that be right? I was a Midwesterner who grew up with a strong work ethic and conviction about helping others and serving in our church. My parents were active in every area of the church and we were one of those families who were there Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday night at the very least. It was the model I grew up believing in and then lived as an adult.


A few pages after reading those words from Hannah, she added a bit more to broaden the picture (and conviction).


“Pride convinces us that we are stronger and more capable than we actually are. Pride convinces us that we must do and be more than we are able. And when we try, we find ourselves feeling “thin, sort of stretched…like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.” (From J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring) We begin to fall apart physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the simple reason that we are not existing as we were meant to exist.”


That description of Tolkien’s resonated for a chunk of my life when I was working and PICT0166going to school. The sad part was that it became an entrenched habit. I lost track of how to relax and be okay with doing nothing even for a short period. It happened progressively.


Rest was not a real part of my routine. There was always something to do or something I wanted to do. I had learned early in childhood laziness was not a good thing. I had also never learned to play, kick back, and relax. Those things felt awkward and foreign to me. Rest sounded slothful.


Yet, over and over Jesus admonishes his disciples (that includes you and me) to rest, to leave the cares of the world behind. What can be far too easy to miss is that He wants us to rely on Him more than we rely on ourselves. That means accepting the truth that I must be dependent on Him. It means when the body He created makes clear that I am tired, He wants me to rest. It means when the mind keeps spinning, He wants me to rest. It means when I can’t find a place on my calendar for one more thing, He wants me to step back and look at His life on earth.


He had three short years of ministry recorded in the gospels. Those of us in the current day would have developed a strategic plan and had our calendars crammed full. We see Jesus instead having time with friends like Lazarus, Mary, & Martha. We see Him enjoying dinner with others and going away to rest or pray when crowds were seeking Him out. What a clear contrast to us in ministry!


Hannah Anderson gives a good description of what too many of us experience on a regular basis.


“When we disregard our natural human limitations, we set ourselves in God’s place. When we insist that our voice and our work is essential and must be honored, we set ourselves in God’s place. When we believe that with enough effort, enough organization, or enough commitment, we can fix things that are broken, we set ourselves in God’s place. And when we do, we reap stress, restlessness, and anxiety. Instead of submitting to His yoke, we break it and run wild, trampling the very ground we are meant to cultivate.”


It can be easy to forget that the power of humility does not rely on its own strength, but trusts in the One who is powerful and infinitely resourceful.




The Race We Can’t Win


I have never been an athlete. I often felt like I had two left feet while I was growing up and no gym classes ever convinced me otherwise.


As I look at it now over my shoulder, I am aware that much of my awkwardness related to two primary things: 1) lack of exposure to a variety of sports activities and the opportunity to develop skills in them through practice; and 2) my negative view of myself that would rarely risk trying something.


I applauded my daughter when she decided at age 40 to begin running after helping her home school children learn to run a mile for a physical education goal. She had never done sports growing up, but rather focused on piano, singing, and theater. I watched as she pursued first a 5K and then gradually moved up her efforts until she was able to run in a half-marathon. Her determination showed me one does not need to be a born athlete to develop athletic skills.


As I was watching one of the Narnia movies recently Aslan caught my attention when he admonished Lucy in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, “You doubt your value. Don’t run from who you are.”


Lucy was caught up in the snare that many of us fall prey to of comparing herself to someone. In this case it was her beautiful older sister, Susan, and how much she wantedmirror_mirror_on_the_wall_decal_sticker_family_art_graphic_home_decor_mural_793d7316 to look like her. Aslan reminded Lucy that it was she who had brought all of them to Narnia and to Aslan. He reminded her of the value and the importance of not running from who she was and what He had designed her to be and do.


Learning that truth can be a big leap for many of us even after we come to know the Lord.


It can be easy to ignore or deny the evidence abundant in the Bible that a flawed or weak family background does not impede our usefulness to Him. We can also forget that stumbling after we have started following Him does not preclude His use of us either even though we have good company when we believe that. Just ask Peter!


When our thinking and belief takes us away from the truth of who we are not, but who we can be because of His grace and mercy we can be immobilized from risking being available to Him. It can be somewhat like standing in a jail cell and seeing ourselves as stuck even though the cell door is unlocked and open, waiting for us to walk out.


Hearing the Good News of the gospel often comes to us because the bad news has become crystal clear.


We are not good enough and never can be good enough. Goodness does not reside in us, but only  Him.


What He wants from us first is our honesty with Him that comes from what we are willing to see about ourselves when we look in the mirror of His Word. What we are and have been doesn’t surprise Him! Adam and Eve’s major mess up didn’t leave Him wringing His hands and deciding to scrap the whole creation and start all over with a new man and woman.


If we start to think that, it reveals how little we understand that God’s love has never looked anything like ours. It is, after all, pretty amazing AND everlasting!


The race we cannot win? It’s when we try to run away from ourselves. You have likely heard that old saying, “wherever I go, there I am”.


The race to run away from us fuels our first step into addictions. On some level we cannot escape what we see about us or some aspect of our life. We want comfort and disconnection. We look for it in food, alcohol, drugs, shopping (known as retail therapy), romance novels, exercise, and sex. Tragically, each of those give us an initial sense of relief without a clue that the addiction can come to own us and leave us worse than when we began. When that happens, we add self-hatred to the mix and a greater assurance that no one can love us…not a holy God either. We can get stuck in self-condemnation with the enemy loudly agreeing with our assessment.


The enemy agrees because he never has understood salvation. It makes no sense to him at all because he always believed in his own perfection. He also never really got the power of God’s everlasting love or what it could accomplish.


38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8: 38-39 ESV


It’s time to stop running in the race we cannot win!