Jim and John were walking the dogs when they passed by a restaurant. “Let’s go in and get something to eat,” Jim suggested. “We can’t,” said John, “Don’t you see the sign says NO PETS ALLOWED.” “Ah, that sign,” said Jim. “Don’t worry about it.” Taking out a pair of sunglasses, he walked into the restaurant. The hostess said, “Sorry, no pets allowed.” Can’t you see,” said Jim “I’m blind. This is my seeing-eye dog.” “But it’s a Doberman Pincher, who uses a Doberman Pincher as a seeing-eye dog?” she asked “Oh,” Jim responded “you must not have heard. This is the latest type of seeing-eye dog.” Seeing it worked, John walked in with his Chihuahua. Even before he could open his mouth, the hostess said “Don’t tell me that a Chihuahua is the latest type of seeing-eye dog.” Thinking quickly John responded in an angry voice, “You mean they gave me a Chihuahua?” What we see depends mainly on what we look for. One of our most important realizations is that any situation is far less important than our interpretation of it. Someone very smart said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” It’s no secret that if you look at things with a negative lens they’re going to appear negative. If you look at life as this giant tragedy and you’re always the helpless victim, guess what? That’s what you’ll see and be. We have the power to enable a self-fulfilling prophecy. We are who we believe we are. But too often we see ourselves as less than we are. Too many stop where they’re supposed to start. We draw a finish line where God puts a starting line. The line looks the same but it’s how you look at it. Waking up early is hard for some. But it’s possible. Eating better is hard for some. But if it’s really important, it’s possible. Finding better things to do with your time is hard for some. But if it’s important, it’s possible. Too often we think these are too much for little old us to handle. But they’re not. Think about it: If we put a man on the moon you can come up with a strategy to wake up early without hitting the snooze button, or getting your own life directed and organized so you can do what you know is best. Stop doubting, “Why?” And start seeing, “Why not?”
Stop getting tripped up by the little things. Look to take on those bigger issues in your life and you will need God’s help to do it. Make the Lord part of your program, and that’s when God will really start to bless you. So often, the world around us exists as we allow ourselves to see it. An old story goes, “There was once an elderly and wise gentleman who lived in a village. He would often spend his days sitting in the shade of a big tree in the center of the village, reading books and talking to passersby. One day, a traveler came upon his village and stopped and said, ‘Old man, I have been traveling across the countryside, and I have seen many things and met many people. Can you tell me what kind of people I will find in your village?’ The elderly gentleman looked up at him and replied, ‘Certainly I can, but first tell me what kind of people you have found on your travels.’ The traveler scowled and said, ‘Old man, I have met people who cheat, steal, and aren’t kind to strangers, and people who don’t look out for one another.’ The elderly gentleman looked up and, with a faint look of sadness in his eyes, said, ‘Oh my friend, those are the people you will find in my village.’ The traveler kicked the dirt under his feet, scoffed, and marched off towards the village By and by, as the elderly gentleman continued to enjoy his day, another traveler came walking through the village. Once again, the traveler stopped and asked, ‘Please kind sir, I have been traveling across the countryside, and I have seen many things and met many people. Can you tell me what kind of people I will find in your village?’ The elderly gentleman said, ‘Certainly I can, but first tell me what kind of people you have found in your travels.’ The traveler replied, ‘I have found people who are kind and welcoming of strangers, people who care for one another, and people who love. These are the people I have met in my travels.’ The elderly gentleman looked up and, with the faintest smile in his eyes, said, ‘My friend, those are the people you will find in my village.’ One of the disciples once said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” And Jesus responded, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” If we haven’t seen, we’re not looking.
See where God’s hand has been in your life. Look out for the positives. Keep your purpose in line with God’s will. Focus on what’s good. Celebrate the blessings. Today, we know the eye is the organ that captures an image that the brain interprets. Without going into great detail, light comes into the eye and is focused on the retina. The retina translates the light into electrical impulses which are then carried to the visual cortex of the brain. The brain then tells us to “go left” or “go right” or sends other signals throughout the body depending upon what visual cortex interprets. This is how we see the relationship between the eye and the body. This is not however, how Jesus’ audience viewed the relationship. The common understanding in the ancient world was that the eye was like a lamp, an instrument that projects the inner light onto objects so that they may be seen. You might think of their view as akin to a car’s headlight, where because its light is bright enough we can still see objects when it’s dark outside. This is reflected in scriptures such as Job 17:7, “My eye has grown dim from grief.” And in Proverbs 15:30 when it says, “Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” Our scripture comes from the same view when Jesus says the lamp of the body is the eye and that we must be careful that the light within us does not become darkness. Jesus wants us to keep our inner light burning, we might say today. Don’t let yours get snuffed out. Hold onto hope. Come to worship so God’s flame stays lit. Find a way to grow in love of family, neighbor, those in need, and enemy. We don’t want to dampen the Spirit within us. Don’t let this old world drag you down. Don’t let what others say or do eviscerate your spirit. Press forward to become who you seek to become. It’s true that we have to persevere. There’s no doubt that this life isn’t for the weak. Our spiritual life isn’t for the faint of heart either. We’ve got to see that we’ve got God working with us. We mustn’t stay blind to what the Lord is doing around us. Too many have soured their souls and wilted their spirits by looking at things from lamps that have grown dim. Turn up the light inside you so you can see the light outside you. You’ve got to burn strong on the inside so when things come to push and shove you can stand and remain.
This world blows hard against our earliest hopes. We might have a calm day or two or a month or even a year, but the storms going to blow. So shelter the flame that Christ talks about. Don’t let it go dark because you’re walking a tunnel right now. Grow your wick deeper into the candle of God’s care. Pour more oil into the lamp of peace that passes all understanding. Burn brighter with the purpose that comes from the abundant grace of the Lord flowing in your life. Sometimes however we don’t, and we may pay the price. I mean have you ever overreacted to a situation? Have you ever taken something personally when it was not really meant that way? It’s because we’re not seeing things as they really are—we’re not trusting that things aren’t as bad as they may look. We could put ourselves in Tina’s shoes. Tina has been in her new job for six months. She’s always been conscientious, hardworking and a solid performer. She’s considered to be “on the fast track.” Every morning around 7:45 a.m., Linda, Tina’s boss, passes by Tina’s desk with a warm “Good morning, Tina.” But one day, Linda walks by and just nods. Tina’s mind starts spinning: “I heard rumors about downsizing. Linda was probably told she has to reduce headcount. I’ve only been with the company for six months. I’m the employee in the department with the least tenure, so Linda has no choice but to fire me. She didn’t say hello because she feels bad about it. I’m about to lose my job.” Tina becomes so anxious she gets up, goes into Linda’s office and demands to know if there are going to be layoffs soon, and whether she’s on the list. Linda looks at Tina like she’s off-base. “What are you talking about? Just relax. No one’s said anything about layoffs.” Tina overreacted to her boss’s subdued greeting from lack of peace and light in her own life. Had she seen the situation more clearly, without responding from her own insecurities and fears, she would have begun by looking at the facts: Every morning around 7 a.m. for many months, Linda passed Tina’s desk with a warm greeting. Today Linda didn’t say. Period. End of story. Tina later learned Linda’s twenty-year-old daughter had just been injured in a car accident. She was too preoccupied to give her usual warm greeting.
Be sure to see what’s really there. Choosing to focus on your light and God’s purpose first, and everything else will take care of themselves. We don’t want to concentrate on one thing, on a flaw, on a mistake, on a failing because this may lead to blindness. Look instead to what you have that unfailing signs of God’s goodness and blessings. When we look to the Lord, we see our lives from a larger perspective. It’s easier to have patience when we put our lives in God’s sense of time. It’s easier to have peace when we see God as keeping an eye on us. It’s easier to have a purpose in life when we are willing to see ourselves as servants of God’s goodness. When we walk by Christ’s light we will see how little darkness there is. Can the church say Amen?
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