I See Trees

If you and I were to sit down and have a candid conversation about the history of our lives and what shaped each of us, I bet it would be an overview of defining moments.  It’s not very likely that either one of us would summarize each day from as long back as we remember.  We would mentally skim through the years and try recollect significant moments that had a lasting impact on us.  Perhaps some helped define and test our character and some were forks in the road where a tough decision had to be made.  It’s possible that others may have spanned a “season” in our life, but in relation to all of our years, they were still moments.  Another curious phenomenon when we look back, is how we saw that moment when we were in it is not the same as we see it now.  Time can bring some clarity.  And time with Jesus can bring true clarity.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to guest speak on a Sunday morning at the church I was attending.  I prepared my message as usual and felt like I needed to take the last few minutes before closing to address an issue that I had observed.  Much like I do in my writings, I was pondering the behavior of people around me in my life.  Except this time, I felt like this behavior needed an adjustment (which it did by the way), and I chose to use my platform to “correct” what I had seen.  I left feeling good and even had several people comment on how much they enjoyed the message.

Later the next week I was in a business meeting with several elders of the church.  As the meeting began to wind down, one of them turned to me and said, “We need to talk about last Sunday.”  My heart immediately sank, because the tone in his voice let me know that what was about to be shared wasn’t going to be easy to hear.  Very graciously, and one by one, each elder began to share that even though I was speaking to a specific group of people, it felt like a “spanking” for the entire congregation.  Many people even walked away confused as to what I was saying because it didn’t apply to them.  Tears began to well up in my eyes because that was not my intent.  But what happened next is the incredible part.  The group began to encourage me and took time to pray over me because they knew God was at work in me as a teacher and pastor.  Over the next few days as I processed the whole event, I saw God at work through them loving me and bringing His perspective to the matter.  It was a defining moment for me.  The fact that I had noticed behavior in a group of people that needed attention was indeed truth.  God has given me a gift to observe and teach from it.  But the way I approach my teaching has drastically changed since that day.  Because of an additional touch from God through those men, I experienced true clarity I carry with me to this day.

Jesus is the master at not giving up on a person until they see clearly.  There is a story in Mark chapter 8 that is a perfect example of this persistent touch.

“They (the disciples and Jesus) came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.  He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.  When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’ He looked up and said, ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around.’ Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes.  Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” Mark 8:22-25

Now I realize he spit in the man’s eyes and perhaps that wouldn’t have been your approach, or mine for that matter, but it does show that Jesus is creative and will use any method to reach us.  What I really want to focus on is the man’s initial response to Jesus’ first question.  “Do you seen anything?”  This man was blind.  For how long?  I’m unsure, but my guess is it had been a while.  He had friends that cared about him so much that they wanted this affliction gone from his life and wanted him healed once and for all.  As Jesus touched his eyes and inquired if the man could see, he responded by saying that he saw people but they looked like trees.  The fact that the man even answered in the first place is incredible!  Imagine how scared you would be, not knowing exactly how to describe the images that were now appearing.  Jesus asked the man to take his first step in faith by simply asking that question.  God does the same with us and usually with the same question, but in reference to Him…do you see anything?  God reveals Himself to everyone in many different ways, but do you acknowledge it’s Him or explain it away as something else?  The first step to clarity is to simply answer when God calls.

If we look at the man’s answer however, he got it right, but not quite right?  I think most of us can relate.  He saw people but described them as trees.  This was a defining moment for the man, but Jesus wasn’t asking for perfection, he was asking for progress!  He was more than willing to spend additional time with the man, and I’m convinced he would have touched his eyes multiple times until they could see clearly. 

I saw behavior in a group of people that I wanted to address and used my position incorrectly, but God gave me a second touch to correct my sight.  He still continues to do so until this day.  We are building upon truth after truth each week to open ourselves up to exactly what God has designed us for.  My prayer is that you think back on each defining moment in your life and thank God he continued to walk with you even if you couldn’t see the full picture.  God gives us so much grace to make mistakes and try again.  I’m a better teacher and pastor because of it, and I’m confident in saying you are better at what you do because of it too.  Who do you know in your life right now that is stepping out in faith and trying to describe what they see?  Are they are feeling a little discouraged because they’ve tried and all they see is trees.  Perhaps just one more touch from God, through you, is all that is needed for them to see the people clearly.