I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see. John Newton, Amazing Grace
When I was in about the sixth grade, my mother took me to the eye doctor. I don't remember if I had complained about not being able to see the board or if my teacher had expressed a concern to my mother. I just know one day Mom told me we would be going to see an optometrist. We very rarely ever visited a doctor of any kind, so it was a big deal. Before we left the office, I tried on a variety of eye glass frames and selected a silver pair. Think John Denver. I can't remember if it was a week or two later that we returned to pick them up from the doctor's office. The optometrist placed them on my face and made some adjustments. It was a strange feeling when I first put them on, but the noticeable difference came when we went outside. I remember walking down the street and looking up at a tree. I could not believe the detail I was seeing and how far up the tree I could see it. Before, it had been just a fuzzy green outline. Now, I could make out individual leaves and branches. Until that moment, I had no idea how impaired my vision had been.
Most people do not realize their current condition and don't recognize it until they get away from that situation or place in their life. Have you ever recovered from a bad illness, not realizing how sick you were until you got better? Have you ever looked backed on a stressful time in your life and wondered how you got through it? I was nearsighted, which meant I could see things that were close, but as things were farther away they became less clear. It was all I knew, so it was my normal. For some people, constant pain that they have lived with day after day becomes their normal. If you work in a stressful job, that harried schedule becomes your normal. In my case, a simple pair of glasses changed my normal by literally giving me a new perspective on life. Even though wearing glasses wasn't a new thing, it was new to me and it seemed like miracle.
Perhaps because I am a writer, I have wondered about the "rest of the story" when it comes to the miracles of Jesus. What happened to Jairus' daughter after Jesus brought her back from the dead? What did she see or hear or experience? How did it affect how she lived the rest of her life? I wonder about how life changed for the man from the pool of Bethesda. He had been afflicted for 38 years and was healed instantly by Jesus. Did he go on to live a "normal" life? Did he get married or get a job? Jesus opened blinded eyes, including a man who had been blind from birth. He opened the ears and loosed the tongue of a deaf-mute. Being blind or being deaf were all these people knew, until Jesus came on the scene. They didn't realize what it meant to be blind or deaf until they gained the gifts of sight and hearing. Can you imagine what it was like when they heard the sound of a loved one's voice for the first time or saw their own face for the first time in a mirror? They would not even have known they had an affliction if someone had not pointed it out.
1 Corinthians 2:14 -- But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
In the same way, I didn't know how lost I was until I learned about Jesus. There are a lot of unsaved people out in the world, and the majority of them don't even realize their condition. (The rest know and have made that conscious choice.) If you have ever tried to tell people that they are lost, they probably looked at you like you are crazy. I'm not lost; I know exactly where I am, they are thinking. We are using our Christian lingo with people who don't speak the language. We are expressing spiritual concepts in a worldly realm where they are often misunderstood or not considered, and perhaps even scorned. That's why walking up to someone and telling him that he is lost and going to Hell is not the best conversation starter, even if it is the truth. John 1: 5 says "And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." We must pray that God would open the person's eyes and his heart to the truth. We can share our personal testimony and explain who Jesus is and what He did for us. We can show the love of Christ and live what we believe before people. We can tell them the truth, with love, by the leading of the Spirit. We can do all these things and more, but it will take a spiritual experience with the Lord to reach that lost person. They key is that they have to be willing to see and to hear. Some may listen, but others have become so blinded and hardened that you wonder if they could ever be reached.
2 Corinthians 4:3-6 -- But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Zachariah 7:11-12 -- "But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts.
If you read about the life of John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, you learn about the hardships and abuse that he endured. Even though his mother had taught him about God as a young child, he had not lived with religion of any kind in his life. Then one evening a storm at sea was about to sink his ship, and he cried out to God and they were saved from destruction. In that moment, he recognized the grace of God and committed his life to Him. He realized that he had been blind to the things of God, but now he could see God's presence in his life. He realized that he was a lost soul who had found his way to God. Not everyone has such a dramatic testimony as nearly being washed away at sea, but each of us has a story. We need to think back to the time when we first realized our condition, when we realized that we were indeed lost and needed Jesus. You might call it your soul's "aha" moment, a moment of realization of the truth. That's a moment we can share. That's a moment that could reach someone or, at the very least, plant a seed of hope. We need to remember where we came from in order to humbly lead another person to Christ. You can't beat it into someone or scare it into them. It takes love, empathy and encouragement. In the end, when you have done all you can, the rest is in God's hands. He has told us that if we are rejected we should realize that it is Him they have rejected and not us.
The powers and principalities of this world are doing all they can to keep people blinded to the truth of Jesus Christ. We need to remember that we are in spiritual warfare and should always be ready for battle. We must pray, fast, seek God and read our Word. It seems like the people in our society today are a lot like the people that Jesus encountered in his ministry. The people had grown cold. They didn't really want to hear about God and especially didn't want to hear about their sin. The religious leaders were self-righteous. The same is true today. The Bible warns us about those who have a form of Godliness but deny the power of God, and we are to turn away from them (2 Timothy 3:5). However, we should not be discouraged. Jesus also encountered people who were not just accepting, but hungry for the things of God. They followed Him by the thousands. God is still calling His people in; it is our job as the Church to be ready for the harvest. 1 Peter 3:15: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear". With love, we can help remove the blinders and help the lost be found. We can lead others to their "aha" moment with Jesus.