I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened... Ephesians 1:18, NIV
A few weeks ago as our small group transitioned from supper to study, the hypothetical question was asked, "If you could keep only one of your five senses, which would you choose?" Some, still wiping their faces from the satisfying dinner, opted to hang on to the joys of taste. Others tried to evade the constraints and wanted to keep two senses. In the end, the majority of our group chose sight because it seems to open up more possibility for functionality and awareness of reality. When we can't see, we turn the lights on. When we can't see clearly, we pay for prescription glasses or contacts. Vision allows for understanding, perception of beauty, appropriate reaction to surroundings. I think that's why the Bible often uses sight as a metaphor for knowledge and wisdom (cf. Lk. 24:16, 30-31; Mt. 6:22-23) and blindness for ignorance (cf. Jn. 9:40-41).
What do you see? Or maybe the tougher question is, What don't you see?
SEEING GOD'S PROVISION
At a time when the king of Syria sought to pester the king of Israel, the prophet Elisha was used by God to inform Israel's armies of the plots and schemes of the Syrian army even before they were executed. Syria's king grew frustrated and even accused one of his own officers for leaking confidential information to the enemy. When it dawned on him that "Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom" (2 Kings 6:12), the king of Syria aimed his attack on Elisha himself. (I'll admit, this is one of those Bible stories that humors me as much as it inspires me.)
The next morning, Elisha's servant observes something out of the ordinary on his early morning errands. He runs to the prophet in order to share what he sees -- the Syrian army surrounding the city. Elisha's servant thinks he's sharing news, informing the prophet of some great danger that he hadn't yet perceived. In response, Elisha sets himself to prayer -- not for protection, not for deliverance, not for victory. He doesn't even pray for himself. He prays for sight, and he prays it twice for two different recipients. We'll explore the second prayer in next week's post, but for now here's that first prayer for sight:
"Lord, I pray, open his [the servant's] eyes that he may see." Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:17
What do you see? Or, what don't you see? I think there are times in our lives when we respond to life in fear, when circumstances and dynamics cause us to shut down in a state of helplessness and powerlessness. We turn to blaming others, ourselves, even God. We're paralyzed from moving forward because we can't see which way is out.
But what if what we see that causes us so much fear and anxiety isn't the full picture? What if our God is greater, is present, is already on the move to save and deliver even before we have any clue of what He's up to?
I'm convinced we need to pray Elisha's prayer more often. We need to pray it for ourselves, and we need to pray it for others around us when we have little sense of God's abundant provision for salvation, for life's sorrows, for whatever it is that may hem us in. Oh that God would open our eyes to see that He has provided everything necessary for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3)! When surrounded by trouble and terror, may it become our default to set ourselves to pray for sight of God's provision and of the ever-present God Himself (cf. Ps. 46:1).