In this blog section, Traci writes about her daily walk and lessons learned as together we work to change caged gerbils into dogs at the Master’s knee. Come back often to enjoy her latest article.
Hair. It is the topic of musicals, the premise of jokes, and big business for many. Hair has to be cut, clipped, and curled. It is made into wigs, washed, and woven. Hair tells your age, says where you are from, and what your cultural ties are.
But what hair doesn’t say is what you are on the inside.
I don’t like long hair on males. It is probably a cultural thing for me. Where I grew up men did not have long hair. So when I see men with long hair, I identify them as feminine. I know logically that it isn’t true, but my past still speaks loudly.
I like hair that doesn’t draw attention to itself. It should be clean and kempt, shining with good health, but it should not scream, “Look at me!” My sons do not hold the same beliefs.
The older son has beautiful, soft and bouncy brown hair. When he was about fifteen he played a character from the early 1800s. He was in a local theater troupe and so I allowed him to have longer hair for the part. The only problem was that he didn’t want to cut the hair afterward. It wasn’t until he discovered that local employers have similar ideas about hair as his mother that he agreed to cut it.
The issue of length was solved, but the issue of color was just starting. He wanted blue hair, yes blue. And I, his mother who loved his beautiful, brown bouncy hair, agreed to color it blue – on more than one occasion. We never stripped the hair, so the blue came out sort of like a dark navy, and I tried to imagine he was Asian with really, really black hair. It was ok; I survived.
The second son has luxurious, curly blond hair. When he was little he was what you call a tow-head. Now it has turned a darker blond, almost brown. He wants it to be black. I guess it is better than blue, but I miss my sweet blond boy who looked like his mama. I agreed to color it black, but I made lots of comments about how ugly it is and I hurt his feelings.
Then the older son came home from college for Thanksgiving and he had red hair; not an auburn or carrot-top red, but Solo-cup red! I told him he looked like Raggedy Andy. I don’t think he knew who that is.
I asked what professors at his conservative Christian college said about his hair and the response was negative; no big surprise there. They have the same past as I do: hair should not draw attention to itself.
But what I wonder is if the professors, the employers, even the family members are able to look at my walking Solo cup commercial and see a giant of a kid who wanted to help heart patients.
You see, when he was working at a local restaurant there was a fund drive to raise money for kids who are heart patients. He bought brownie mix with his own money, baked the brownies, and then sold them at the restaurant to make money for the kids. Then he challenged the other workers to help with the bake sale. They offered to help IF he would color his hair whatever color they said. He agreed and last fall, while he was away at school, the other employees, after raising all the funds, called him on it.
I still don’t like men with long hair, and I really wish my kids would keep the hair color God bestowed upon them, but what I really LOVE about my kids is that they are so much more than hair. I will try to remember that as I color that blond hair black again.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the HEART.” 1 Samuel 16:7
There is a new apartment complex going in along a road I drive nearly every day. I watched intrigued this summer as dirt was pushed aside and a reservoir was dug. Large pipes were inserted into concrete foundations, walls began to rise, and men in hardhats wielded hammers big enough to see from the road. It was a very busy place.
But some of the buildings are still in the process of being built. Insulation sheets disrupt the view, large mud flats mar the grassy scenery, and the reservoir is littered with construction materials.
As I drive by I imagine myself as the “still under construction building” facing the new building. I can see how beautiful and sturdy the new building is, and I can see all of the flaws of my own structure. How can I ever compare to the new building, I wonder. Look at my ugly insulation. Look at my covered windows. There’s no way I will ever match up to a building like that one. Who would ever want to live in me?
The new building reassures me that it didn’t start out this way. “You weren’t around this past summer to see the ugly mud mounds, the hammering hardhats, the bare, rising walls of my now finished building. Be patient: You, too, will one day be a finished building.”
“BUT,” the building goes on to say, “I am not yet perfect. You see that home there in front of us? It has been here for many, many years. People come and visit it, children play in its yard, and warm lights glow in it at night.”
Sometimes I am guilty of looking at more mature Christians and thinking, I will never be able to be like that. But I have to remember that I wasn’t there to see the days that they were just being built. Ground that they thought was sturdy was suddenly pushed aside and cleared. A foundation was laid and then bare wood and insulation showed. And even now, as they appear to be perfect to me, they look at another who has been in the subdivision longer than themselves, and they know they are not yet what they will one day be. We are all being built, and then renovated, by the Master Carpenter.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. Gen 1:2-4
The shadows lengthen and Darkness falls quietly, quickly, almost imperceptibly. It is late in the year: the time when living room lamps are always lit, candles glow in the windows, and a warm fire flickers in the fireplace. Yet, the Darkness penetrates every room like a cold draft.
“What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.'” Mk 7:20-23
Then a tiny babe brings Light and laughter into our lives. His impending arrival causes people to celebrate, rejoice, be generous, even dare to laugh at the Darkness. The babe is Light itself robed in newness that shines and sparkles and glitters dispelling the cold draft and warming each soul from its very center.
Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.” Jn 12:35-36
Every day following the light lasts longer, shines brighter. The nights get shorter; the darkness becomes less dreary. The Light reaches out from the child and enters the hearts of those who hold him close. Their faces glow with warmth, hope, possibilities, until the whole Earth bursts forth with his newness, his Light.
. . . shepherds who feed only themselves. . . clouds without rain. . . autumn trees without fruit. . . wild waves of the sea foaming up their shame. . . wandering stars
for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. Jude
The Darkness screams in defiance. It will not be swallowed by this Light. But the child has grown stronger, no more a child, but a man, a God. Darkness attacks mercilessly, unfaintingly, completely.
In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has NOT overcome it. Jn 1:4-5
Yet it does not win. The Light has entered the world and Darkness must sound the retreat.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C. S. Lewis
I believe in Jesus and I believe the Son has risen; not only because I see him, but because by him I see everything else.
One of my dad’s favorite stories to tell is about the day he asked my older cousin if there would be any Nazarenes in Heaven. Kenny and my dad were fixing fence on the farm, chatting and joking like always. Dad has a love of arguing with people: politics, religion, nothing is safe. So, not being a Nazarene himself, Dad asked Kenny, “Do you think there will be any Nazarenes in Heaven?”
Dad expected, probably even hoped, for an argument. Not a heated exchange, but some banter to fill the morning’s work would be nice. Kenny paused for several minutes, perhaps trying to figure out a way to escape my father’s motives, when he offered, “I don’t know, but there’ll be a lot of Christians.”
There was nothing Dad could do with that. They finished up the morning’s task in simple, familial friendship.
After sharing a light lunch in the house, they headed out to do some more work. Kenny was on the tractor when he suffered a fatal heart attack. It was as if God had heard Kenny’s answer and agreed that he had gotten it right. A Christian went home that day.
Several weeks ago I was having a conversation with one of my best friends at church. We disagreed on women’s roles in the church, on communion, about children’s roles in worship, and probably seventeen other religious issues. But we were and are great friends. If I need something, I know she is there for me, and vice versa. We teach Sunday School together, lead retreats together, and feed the hungry together. No one looking from the outside would ever know we have such gaping disparities in beliefs.
No one would ever know, because the truth is, those things aren’t important in the greater scheme of things. Christianity is not about whether we get doctrine right, or about being members of the “right” church. Christianity is not about whether we fight for justice, feed the hungry, or memorize Scripture. The only required mark of a Christian is “LOVE”.
Christ only gave one new command, that we love one another as he loved us: wholeheartedly, in spite of differences, mistakes, preferences, backgrounds, or anything else. Jesus showed us how to love, he commanded us to love, and he develops in us the ability to love. So, does the world know you are a Christian?
“This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples- when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:35 The Message
“You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts – limbs, organs, cells – but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain – his Spirit – where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves – labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free – are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.” 1 Corinthians 12: 12-13 The Message
It occurs to me that though I pray for my husband’s preaching ministry, I don’t regularly pray for others’ ministries. I know a lot of preachers, God, and I know they need your blessings.
I know ministers in my tribe of the Kingdom right here in my town. Please watch over Stuart, Tim, Winfred, Jim, Skipper, and DJ. But, Father, we aren’t your only children, please bless the preachers in the other tribes that make up your Kingdom. Please watch over Chuck, Blake, Branson, Jason, Lennie, Aaron, Tim, and Alan.
Father, some preachers have many helpers. For them the main responsibility is just that, to preach. But Lord, they are responsible for the way thousands understand you. Please guard the tongues and lives of Max, Mike, Mark, Jonathan, Scott, Rick and Rick, TD, Joel, Jeff, Billy, Patrick, Beth, Richard, Anne, and Joyce.
A preaching minister has many responsibilities that weigh heavy on his shoulders. I see many of your preachers stoop-shouldered and weary. I know they spend countless nights awake, praying and wondering and begging for your intervention in the lives of their flock. They pray for the single mothers and fathers, for their wisdom, patience, finances, ability to discipline, their energy levels and their commitment to raising their children in your family. They pray for the sick ones, for surgeries, cancers, defects and diseases. They pray for wandering souls and ask for wisdom and insight to reach them and bring them back. They spend years trying to speak to the eight year old and the eighty year old while not offending all of the others in between. And they ask you to forgive their weaknesses, to give them strength to carry on with your work. Many struggle with insecurities, lack of friendships, and leaders who disappoint them.
Many of those preachers, Father, work in small, unfamiliar locales. For them the work involves preparing sermons and lessons as well as treating for ants, scrubbing baptisteries, setting up chairs, tables, and equipment. They call plumbers, fix doorknobs, reset mailboxes, visit hospitals and prisons. They work second and even third jobs to make ends meet, and they are at every service, every event, every potluck and every meeting.
Please encourage and bless Matt and Matt, Don, Sam, Jason, Larry, Tim, Will, Terry, Karl, and Mark. Help them to know that what they are doing is Kingdom work, even when it looks like it’s just clearing brush or painting a sign.
Father all of these preachers have spouses who lay beside them at night hearing the fervent prayers and the creaking floorboards soon after. They know the secrets that plague the troubled mind. They feel helpless and inept. They hear the complaints about and criticisms of the ones they love the dearest. They need you. Guard and guide Arletta, Kelly, Karla, Kami, Kara, Christy, Stacy, Stephanie, Teff, Sandy, Cindy, Carol, Danielle, Denise, Lora, Laura, Julie, Jennie, and Judy.
So many children, Lord, never understand why their daddies are stressed, weary, and worried. So many secrets are kept in order to protect others and to ensure that these little ones only know your family as bonds of love. Other children fight you because they see the difficulties of shepherding the flock, and they scatter to the winds. Protect those precious souls so innocently injured. Allow them to see what their fathers see and to love you the way their fathers do.
Father, many of your preachers have moved on, but they still bear the scars and the successes of their ministry in your service. Bless them now where they find themselves and let them never give up on you. Watch over Mark, Jeff, Harold, Jake, Jack, Don, Doug, and Steven.
Lord, I know I am missing people here. Already I am thinking of Ben, Chris, Don, Richard, Jack, John, Linda, Father H., Bob, Tommy, and Yale. You, however, do not forget them, even knowing the names that I do not know. Bless them with your presence, your wisdom, your anointed guidance. Help them as they sculpt their hearts to look like your hands. Amen
Habits. We all have them, good and bad. Some habits are innocuous, at least to the one who isn’t bothered by them. I turn the steering wheel sharply to enter the parking area of our drive. I park the car and get out. I never knew there was an underlying bad habit, until my younger son started driving.
“Why do you leave the wheel turned!?” he exclaims, exasperated. “Just straighten it back out before you turn off the van.”
Hmm. I never noticed that I do that. I never knew it mattered anyway. Obviously it matters to Amos, so I am trying to remember to straighten out the wheel. It’s a lot to remember; I have ten years of “bad” habit forming practice behind me.
This year one of my goals was to read 26 books, one every two weeks. I used to love to read, absolutely loved it, but I broke the habit. Since kids, homeschooling, work, and just plain exhaustion entered my life I have not been a voracious reader. Some, including myself, would say I was not a reader.
It is only September and I have nearly met my year-end goal already. In fact, this weekend I felt like I was craving something, after a bit I realized I needed a book to read. Yesterday morning I couldn’t take it any longer and picked up a book between classes. The habit is back.
All of us have unintentional habits: the way we park, the order we put on our shoes, the time of day we brush our teeth, even when we call our loved ones. We don’t recognize them as habits; they are just the things we do.
But those around us, like a son learning to drive, notice the habits and decide whether they want to form the habits as well.
Jesus had a habit. He prayed. He left everyone, went out at dark, early morning, even in the middle of the day, in order to be alone and pray. But even in his solitude, people noticed.
“Teach us to pray.” They watched and observed and followed. It was a good habit.
Father, my mind wanders like a goat on the hillside. It strays to this bush and that weed, but always it returns to you. It sees in your son a habit worth developing. Guide me, discipline my mind, form within me a habit that cannot be broken. Make me a person of prayer. Amen.
“So how do you tell if something is a coincidence or is God telling you something?” I confronted Matt this morning as I worked through my daily devotions.
“Why?” he laughed.
And so I told him the story. . .
Tuesday I received an email from my publisher informing me how my book has done on the market so far. It was less than satisfactory, in fact it was embarrassing. I sold 52 copies through the commercial markets making about $28. Just so you know, $28 won’t pay even one day of my mortgage.
I worked through all of it as faithfully as I could. I am not in this to make lots of money, but not even one DAY of my mortgage? My story is to tell people that God wants a relationship with them. Yeah, well not many people are finding that out. It is up to God to bless this ministry. What ministry is that, exactly?!
No matter what I told myself, a little voice on my should whispered disparaging remarks. I began to fall into a cavernous crevasse of doubt and despair.
Then, yesterday afternoon, I received an email from the OVU Lectureship Chairman asking if I would be willing to have a book signing in April. Of course I would, thank you. Then in the evening, I received another message on Facebook from an unknown source that they want me to join in a local authors’ book signing in October. Hmm, I began to regain my balance on the edge of that cliff.
Finally, this morning my devotional was. . . “Who wants to write a bestseller? Everybody, if today’s popular writers’ conferences are evidence. . . .Everybody, it seems, longs to be the next literary star. . .But what if we created for God? With God? Just to worship God? But on his terms? Chew hard with me on these questions today. As a published author, I confess to writing many things I hoped would sell- and never anything I hoped wouldn’t sell. All artists hope for acceptance. Don’t we? But the Word of God teaches us such surprising truths about this God-given impulse to cocreate with God.” God’s Great Blessings
The author goes on to describe the response God had to building the ark, the tabernacle, and the temple. He says he gave the ability, the gift, to create the wonders these people were creating. How many times I have sat down to write on my current project, and I have no idea where the words, the plots, the events come from. They obviously come from a deeper source, from the Spirit.
“Three things seems like more than a coincidence,” Matt said.
I have to agree. I am not paying the mortgage, or even buying dinner tonight, but I am writing for God. What are you doing for God? Are you being faithful to his call, even when it seems “obvious” that you should be doing something else? Stay faithful. He will bless.
“I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded.” Exodus 31:6
I dropped my son off at a college he never visited, a place where he knew absolutely no one, a day’s drive away from me. What was I thinking!?
The first week was tense with text messages and phone calls flying between us: he needed his books, his schedule wasn’t working out right, he had nothing in common with anyone, he was anxious, nervous, upset.
Finally, the calm phone call came about another week into it.
“So, do you hang out with Max?”
Max (pronounced “Machs” in the German way) was the young man we met on move-in day. The two of them seemed to have a lot in common, and I had consoled myself that God was providing a friend.
“No, we don’t get along too well.”
“Really? Why not? You seemed to have so much in common that first day.”
“All he wants to talk about is girls.”
I couldn’t help laughing. My son has been in love with the female population since the day he was born. Honestly, as a newborn I took him with me to school each morning for the first twenty minutes. Then his father, getting off the night shift, would stop by the school and pick him up. During those twenty minutes, my son cooed and gurgled as the kids came over to talk to him in his car seat. But if several kids came at once, he ALWAYS turned to the girls’ faces and completely ignored the boys’ faces.
So now I found it humorous that he was complaining about a guy talking about girls.
“I mean, I can talk about girls for a few minutes, but then I need to talk about something else. There’s only so much to say about them.”
“What do you mean?” I barely hid my mirth.
“Max would ask me what I thought of a girl. I would say I know she likes this kind of music, she reads these books, and she wants to study this. But he would say ‘No’ and ask me what I would rank them on a scale of 1-10. I told him I wasn’t comfortable with that. That’s not a good way to talk about girls.”
“Good for you,” I crowed.
I felt successful. All of those years asking what do you like IN a girl, saying choose a girl who loves Jesus and respects her parents, a girl you can have fun with and talk to. . . Finally I knew it paid off.
As the week following that conversation passed, I began to wonder how often I might be guilty of objectifying people, too. Unlike Max, I don’t rate people based on their looks, but maybe I assign a value to them based on their usefulness to me. This person has experiences that will help me, I give her a 7. This person has material possessions I can borrow, 8.5. WooHoo! This guy knows people I want to be connected with, Perfect 10!
Or perhaps, even worse, I assign them a negative value based on what they take out of me or require of me. You need a ride to the store? -3 She needs me to spend an afternoon finding resources to help her? -6 He wants money and obviously doesn’t want to work for it? -10
Worse yet, what if I do this to my children?
“Yes, my son could multiply his sixes at age two.” I give that a 6.
“My daughter? Well she won first place at the science fair for her exhibit on the bioengineering of a mushroom virus. She’s planning on attending Stamford once she finishes sixth grade.” Definitely a 9.3.
“You did what?! If the police find out you hung a porta-potty with a chain over the bridge, your picture will be in the paper. The neighbors will know!” Negative 7 and don’t tell anyone who your mother is.
“Get that picture off of Facebook this instant. People will think I raised a wild child. And wash that make-up off!” – 4
And then fear creeps in. What if God rates people too? What if he hears my crying and cringes? What if he becomes bored with my begging? What if he sees the sin that so easily entangles me and says, “Enough. I don’t wish to be your friend any longer.”?
Then I sweep that fear aside, because I know the truth; God does rate me, even judges me, but through the lens of his Son. At last, I am a Perfect 10!
11 That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It’s no light thing to know that we’ll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God. God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. 12 We’re not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we’re on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. 13 If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. 14 Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do. 15He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. 16 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. 17 Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! 18 All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. 19 God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. 20 We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. 21 How? you say. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 The Message
I had no idea Lent could be so long. I mean, I knew people give up things for Lent and then usually don’t follow through or succeed in maintaining their goal, but really, it is ONLY 40 days. Then I tried it.
I wanted to celebrate the Lenten Season this year in a special way, so I started looking for ideas of what my “sacrifice” should be. From what should I fast? My friend Amy posted a link to some ideas on Teen Life and one intrigued me: clothes. My husband was intrigued, too! Giving up clothes sounded like a great idea to him.
Actually, what I gave up was access to my extensive wardrobe. I would be allowed four outfits, the amount suggested by Teen Life. I started wondering, though, what does four outfits actually mean. I talked with a few friends, who all had differing opinions, and finally decided on what I thought it meant. Two pair of slacks, a pair of jeans, and a skirt with three tops and a sweater= four bottoms and four tops. I also gave myself access to one cardigan type sweater since the weather was cool. I limited myself to one heavy jacket/coat and two scarves.
The weather seemed to be my biggest enemy. Forty days before a mid-April Easter in Eastern Carolina usually means warm, balmy days and cool nights. After a couple of days I amended my decision and added a “Cuddle Duds” pair of pants and long-sleeved shirt to wear under the outfits. I get cold very easily.
So did I succeed? Mostly. After about five weeks I added in a pair of sweat pants for my walks, and the last couple of days I needed a light jacket, not a sweater or coat, so I threw that in the mix, too.
Did I miss my regular wardrobe? Actually, not until over halfway through; I think it was week 4 or 5 that I told Matt I was ready to be done. I found myself looking in my closet and wishing I could pick something different out. I think it would be safe to say I was coveting my own wardrobe.
Did I learn anything? Yes, quite a lot. I learned that I am materialistic. I wanted more clothes, not because I needed them, though something warmer would have been nice, but mostly because I just wanted something else.
I learned that I am judgmental. I look at what other people wear and I make judgments based on that. When I only had a few things to choose from there really wasn’t any choice in the matter, and I hated to think I was being judged on what I had no control over. Many people live every day that way.
I also learned that most people don’t notice what I wear. It isn’t as important as I might think. Looking clean and well-kempt is, of course, important, but the actual clothes not so much. No one- that is right- NO ONE said anything to me about my wardrobe. It seemed as if no one even noticed what I was wearing. No one noticed enough to say I looked nice either, so I’m not sure if they did notice but didn’t want to tell the absent-minded, forgetful woman that she had already worn that recently. But truly, I don’t think people noticed.
And finally, I learned that Lent is a long time. It is actually a little longer than Jesus’ time of temptation, since Sundays are in there but not counted in the total; still 40 days was a long time, too, especially if you are fasting from food! But for me, I knew where the end was. Jesus did not have that luxury as far as we know. He was in the desert thirsting and hungering, being tempted, and no jellybean basket and new Easter outfit waited at the end of it.
The last several days have found me wearing bright colors, thinking about outfits to pack for an upcoming trip, and enjoying comments on what I am wearing. I did learn things, important things, during my Lent experiment, but I’m not ready to fast from clothing all the time. Sorry, Honey.
When Matt and I met, I wore green contacts. My eyes are a light blue, so the green shone like emerald. He was mesmerized. Really, he had no choice but to fall in love with me as soon as he looked in my eyes. I feel sorry for him, actually.
Anyway, later, he discovered that my eyes are not an irridescent green. He’s happy enough with the blue, since I really think he married me for my cooking skills. But it was my eyes that first attracted him to me.
Eyes are fairly important. I know of a little boy born blind who gets along really well, so I’m not saying that you can’t live without your eyesight, but it sure does help.
With my eyes I see the beauty of the world around me. I watch the expressions of the people I interact with. I read and learn. I perform tasks: mending, cooking, driving, writing. I understand the world and its ways by what I see with my eyes.
In Ephesians 1, Paul mentions the “eyes of your heart” and says they help us “to understand the hope to which he has called you”. The eyes of my heart, not green or blue, not looking at colors and intricacies, not helping me perform tasks, but eyes that give me understanding. Eyes that see who God is and who he wants me to be. Eyes that know what they see today doesn’t have to be what they see tomorrow. Eyes that actually dilate in light, taking in the glory of the Lord and shining more clearly with understanding.
15-19 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! Ephesians 1 The Message
Look closely at the world today. Use the eyes of your heart. What is God showing you?