Seeing Clearly in this Moment

March 22, 2020

One of the common phrases I remember my mom saying about my dad was that he had “selective hearing”.  All of a sudden when you would least expect it, he would weigh in on a subject that you had no idea he was listening in on.  But more common was when we had to repeat a story we thought he heard, but was not paying attention to.  He would let it in one ear and out the other.  I grew up with this and often found it charming about how my parents would find the common ground in the interchange.  For me this doesn’t just happen in listening, but more often times it happens in what I see, or more accurately what I choose not to see.  We are inundated with choices.  Now with lots more networks to watch on television or live streaming, we have to choose.  Some organizations make us choose a whole new network just to watch a program like watching the Chicago Cubs, or documentaries.  We have to choose what they want to see and at what cost.

While those choices are on a simple level, the eyes of our souls and this journey to God invites us to see clearly.  The Gospel shares with us a journey of a man born blind and how he has to process all of the steps to come to a deeper belief.  He is challenged, he is told he isn’t who he is and his parents are afraid to testify out of fear.  In the drama of the journey, every person and every group is invited to testify to what they see.  Some choose to look away and not be truthful.  Fear paralyzes.  What we want to see and what we see blurs lines.  What we want to see and what really is sometimes challenges us.  Jesus wants us to see.    Early in my priesthood I wrote a poem entitled “What I Believe”.  It was a perspective from the cross of Jesus.  One line was, “When our wounds become our eyes, we truly see”.  I believe Jesus truly saw from the cross.  With His hands nailed and His feet unable to move, He entered the most perfect vision of God’s plan that was to sacrifice His life for our sins.  His wounds brought us salvation.  I often go back to that poem in thought and prayer.

Frequently I ask myself, what does God want us to see?  What does He want us to look at?  Within the last week or so I had to make a tough decision about our mission trip to the Philippines.  I wanted to see us safe, making a difference.  I wanted to see all the hope and love we would bring to a jungle community that has incredible needs.  I was also awaiting news of the spread of a virus over which we do not have control or all knowledge about, a spread that lingers as true and powerful.  I wanted to move to a place of trust where God would protect us because of all the good we would do. I wanted to imagine there would be a protective shield around us and we would be different from everyone else in Asia.  This is what I wanted to see.  But in deep prayer, in the middle of the night, what I saw was a different perspective.  I saw the potential and possibility of being carriers of the virus because we were in possible contact with it while in transit through Taiwan and Manila.  My heart had to break open and see the potential that what we would bring was not hope, but the potential of the virus itself to a community that would never leave that village and most likely never leave that island.  I had to see not what I wanted, but the truth of not having the complete assurance of us as missionaries not catching the virus and passing it on to others.  Where I had to go to see was not easy.  We did cancel the trip and the group was very understanding.  What I wanted to see and what I needed to see were in different directions.  Our vision is not just what we want, it has to become what God wants.

In this week, may we find the strength to see what we normally do not look at.  May we trust our brokenness and our wounds to clear our vision.

Reverend  John J. Ouper