Girlfriends in God - June 10, 2008

June 10, 2008

Now I Can See!

Mary Southerland



Today’s Truth

John 9:25 "I once was blind, but now I can see!"


Friend to Friend

Shepherding was one of the oldest callings in Israel, even before farming. Shepherds traveled from place to place, living in tents while driving their flocks from one pasture to another. The sheep and their shepherds lived together every minute of every day. In fact, they were so intimately bound together that individual sheep, even when mixed with other flocks, could recognize the voice of their own shepherd and would come immediately when called by name. A shepherd owned and marked his sheep. In some cases, the sheep were even branded, although branding is no longer an accepted method of identification because of the damage it does to the wool. Today, the ears of sheep are pierced with identification tags but for thousands of years, shepherds around the world marked their sheep by notching their ears with a sharp knife. Each shepherd had his own distinctive notch that indicated identity and ownership.


Stress management begins here, with not only knowledge of who we are, but the knowledge of whose we are. Learning to deal with stress must begin in a vital, personal relationship with the forever faithful, peace-giving, stress-busting God. Our identity in God, coupled with a personal relationship with Him is the basis for understanding and embracing our complete identity. An understanding of who we are and whose we are empowers us to live a life marked by peace - a life where the control and management of stress is consigned to the authority of God alone. It sounds so simple, but rarely is. The truth is that we are often blind to His unconditional love; His unfettered acceptance of us and total pleasure in who we are in His eyes. My husband, Dan, shares his own stressful struggle with eye sight:


Eye sight has always been a frustration for me.  As far back as first grade, I can remember being unable to see the board unless I sat on the front row.  Since I loved to talk, you can imagine that the front row was not my favorite place to sit.  After two years of frustration, my parents took me to an optometrist who promptly pronounced me "blind as a bat."  From that moment on, glasses and/or contacts have been part of my daily routine.


My first pair of glasses was nasty. Multi-colored shades of brown, coke bottle bottom thick lenses and the nick name "Four Eyes" all came in one ugly package.  But I could see - and that helped!  I wore those glasses through scouts, through football, as well as through the taunting that came with them. They became part of every waking minute. In the 9th grade, I was doing well in football. Contacts were still a couple of years away from being available to the masses, so I wore glasses underneath my helmet using an elastic strap to keep them in place.  I was one mean All District defensive end! I even played some fullback as well until the coach made a decision at the start of the season: no glasses under the helmet.  A Dallas football player had managed to cut his nose when his glasses were smashed during a game. My coach heard about it and declared he would not allow that to happen on his squad. Therefore, I lost my specs.  I lost a great deal more than just a pair of glasses. I lost my ability to see - and therefore, the ability to play with confidence.  I was so blind that I could not see the play developing until it was right on top of me.


After losing my starting job, I eventually lost interest and quit playing football altogether. As a college freshman I found new “eye sight life” when I received my first pair of hard contact lenses.  I loved them, and wore them like a fiend until an infection in my eyes took them away. I went back to wearing thick glasses. Several years later, soft contacts came along, and once again, my sight was reborn! I wore them every waking hour, and was thrilled to be free of the nasty thick lenses I had worn for twenty plus years. However, my eyes then began to bother me whenever I wore my contacts.  I tried new pairs, new prescriptions, and new types of soft lenses.  All of them irritated my eyes. I went back to glasses: a smaller, not quite so thick pair, but still with all the hassles that wearing glasses brings.  Once again, I had to lay them in the right spot in hotel rooms or at home every night because I literally could not see well enough to find them.  By this time, my vision had deteriorated to 20/525 in each eye.  I simply resigned myself to wearing glasses and went on with life.  Maybe someday - post college tuition payments – I would be able to afford Lasik eye surgery.


Then I received a priceless gift! My best friend had Lasik eye surgery and was so thrilled with the results that he wanted me to have the same surgery and generously insisted on paying for it. The surgery went well and the results seemed promising. I slept through the first day, compliments of surgical sedation. But when I woke the next morning - I could see! I could see the time on my alarm clock, the trees outside my bedroom window – everything! I literally walked around the house, overwhelmed at my new world! I had new sight! (Author, Dan Southerland)

Spiritual sight is much the same. In John 9:25 we find the disciple’s ecstatic proclamation, "I once was blind, but now I can see!" Like John, we are blind, trapped in a dark prison of ignorance, fear and sin. Life is meaningless, without purpose and the perfect setting for stress to reign. We long for freedom and light, frantically trying every human remedy for the terminal case of spiritual blindness with which we are all born. The only remedy, the only solution for our spiritual blindness is found in a personal relationship with God. When we turn from the sin in our lives, choosing to commit ourselves wholly to God, His presence replaces darkness with light, guilt with forgiveness, blindness with sight and stress with peace. That personal relationship begins with our acknowledgement and acceptance of the truth that God knows us.


Let’s pray

Father, I want to thank You for new sight that comes from knowing You. Thank You for making possible a relationship that replaces darkness with light, blindness with sight. Without You, I am a lost and helpless lamb. Right now, I rest in Your care, knowing every need in my life will be met by the hand of the Good Shepherd. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Now it’s your turn

Close your eyes and imagine living in a world of darkness. No light. No certainty. You are blind, unable to see the faces of those you love, the beauty of nature, or the words on the pages of a favorite book.


Now open your eyes and imagine that a miraculous surgery has restored your vision. Every ordinary detail is now clear. The colors are brilliant and the faces of those you love are more beautiful than ever before.


Until we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we are blind to spiritual things and cannot appreciate the priceless and beautiful treasures God has for us, His children. Don’t spend another minute in the darkness, my friend. Surrender everything you know about yourself to everything you know about God. Turn from the darkness of your old life toward the light of knowing God.


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Originally published Tuesday, 10 June 2008.