I’ve recently joined a rising number of “boomers”, who have undergone cataract surgery. I had heard nothing but positive reports about the procedure from others and so I rather reluctantly said ‘yes’ when it was recommended to me by my ophthalmologist. The results have been nothing short of amazing. For instance, I now ‘see’ colours and textures I’m sure I haven’t ‘seen’ since I was 10 years old. I had forgotten what it was like. Do I see perfectly? No, I’m sure. Do I see much better? Yes; by comparison, wonderfully!
I think this is like what my faith in Christ brings to my life…in this case, true spiritual sight by which I find myself on a pathway leading to something of infinite wonder and beauty. The fullness of the detail where this pathway eventually leads may be impossible for me to take in right now; my spiritual vision just isn’t that good presently. Yet I instinctively now ‘know’ this path is trustworthy because of who is on it with me. I think this knowledge in Christ is what St. Paul means when he compares his current condition of ‘seeing’ like looking through a “dim mirror” in 1 Cor. 13:12. (ESV) I love how he fills out this thought in Romans chap. 8 where he says, “…who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (vs. 24,25).
In describing this ‘new sight’ in Christ phenomenon he affirms…a) the promise of improvement (though not perfection) as we learn to walk on the journey of faith and b) a kind of ‘active waiting’ along the way which roots our hope more in God and less in ourselves. Can we see? Definitely! Perfectly? Well, not so much…yet! Also, please note this approach undoubtedly describes something that is no longer purely individual. As in much of his letters, Paul is addressing ‘us’ together! Suddenly this is a ‘we’ not just an ‘I’ experience. Lo and behold, there are others on this road too!
By now, you’ve probably guessed where I’m going with this. Our soul group interactions have reinforced for me that this faith journey ‘in Christ’ is not a private, though a deeply personal exercise, as he who leads us onward gives us others to help our spiritual vision continue to improve on the way…something like having cataract surgery. Left to our own we can revert to the state of the proverbial blind men holding on to different parts of the elephant guessing that their ‘part’ is the whole thing, thus getting the thing itself entirely wrong. Only as we learn to come out of our foxholes, so to speak, and surrender more fully to the better collective sight we receive in the community of brother and sister travellers are we more likely to see better, especially around tight corners. Of course we still have to ‘walk by faith and not by sight’, but we do so with more joy and humility. Joy, because we are far from alone on the path Jesus walks with us (…and as we’ve indicated elsewhere, the scenery’s better this way…), and humility?…well, that should be obvious. Happy travelling!