“Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’ [The blind man] looked up and said, “I see…trees walking….” (Mark 8:23-24)
I have written alongside the thought and message of each of the octrains of Psalm 119.
These octrains are truths and testimonies of the power of the Word of God, both the written and the Living Word made flesh in Christ.
But I have seen that it is easy to agree with the Word of God, to even spout it to others and teach it and nod the head vehemently to its truth….and then not see the lack of that truth in my life. I have readily seen it in others’ and shook my head in amazement. But mine?
What causes disconnect?
What causes us to not see where we are making a mockery of the faith we profess? What causes blind spots in our rearview mirrors? And what happens when we disconnect from accountability to God’s Word?
There are at least two problems that can occur:
- We’re not reading the scriptures in the book of our own lives, or
- We’re reading too much of our lives into the scriptures.
Reading the book of our own lives
We all know the one who sits in church and nods the head thinking about how the sermon applies to that other church member, relative, spouse, child, or parent. We can do the same kind of thing when we read scripture.
I’ve lived long enough to know that when I begin pointing my discriminating thoughts against another in whine or complaint or frustration or even anger, I am pointing a finger back at myself. For every judgement I make against another, for every flaw I see in the world around me, I myself am in the dock. I am guilty. My motives are not pure, they are self-centered.
God has given us His Word so that we will run it through our hearts (motives, thoughts, desires, fears, etc.) like a fine-toothed comb.
In an unfortunate analogy, it is like when your child comes home from school with a “lice warning”. You get that fine-toothed comb they sell with anti-lice kits and comb to find the little, hidden lice eggs that a regular comb misses. Yeah, that’s nasty.
That’s the point….a self-inspired reading of God’s Word will not pick up my own heart secrets.
Only the willingness to lay myself bare before the searching, probing eyes of God through the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit will pick up those hidden secrets.
The truth is that I can’t see them in myself because I’m biased toward myself! I defend, justify, rationalize….but I am still guilty.
Unfortunately, even when I claim, “But I have prayed…!” I can still have prayed “protectively”. “Lord, show me where I’m wrong” must be followed up by a search devoid of excuses. I must not look to protect myself from God’s loving and truthful gaze. Even when it hurts–which it will. It will cost something.
The Gaze of Christ
There is a painting, “Denial of Saint Peter” by Ferdinand Graf von Harrach (1926), of Peter’s encounter with Christ after his betrayal in the courtyard. Jesus is being led out to the slaughter dressed in the mocking robe of a king. Peter is there in the courtyard guilty in his sin.
The love-gaze of Christ is heart-stopping. Peter cannot meet it and turns away in grief. I know that gaze!! I know the withering of Peter’s guilty heart as he receives it.
We have all felt that moment when we realize we are wrong. We hear the soft prompting of love from the author of all Truth, that our hearts are not clean, not fully. There is yet something that Christ will point out if we will let him.
What we do with that moment, us in the courtyard and Christ being taken out to be mocked, creates our own moment of truth.
How Clearly Do You See?
Peter was not a half-way kind of guy. He was a true follower of Christ. He meant all he said with all his heart. To have a disconnect doesn’t mean that I am a false follower, it means that I am blind to myself because of my sin-nature. I need to see clearly.
The Gospel of Mark (ch. 8) tell us of a Christ-encounter with a blind man at Bethsaida. Jesus healed him, but by degrees.
First, he was blind completely. Totally without sight. Then, Jesus touched him. When he opened his eyes, he could see light and shapes. He could recognize the world around him—but only hazily. “I see people, like trees walking” (v24).
Then Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes and his eyes were fully opened and he saw clearly.
“Who do YOU say that I am?”
Immediately after this, Christ calls his disciples to account for their sight. “Who do you people say that I am?” (v27). The people gave many interpretations: “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others that you are one of the prophets” (v28).
Clarifying their hearts, Jesus pressed further, “Yes, but who do YOU say that I am?” Peter confessed truly, “You are the Messiah!” Peter got it! Peter was on top of his game.
But it was after that, that Peter saw how dim his understanding was when it came to his own life response (v.31-33). Intellectually, Peter was tops. Practically, however, his self-sight was “trees walking”.
His heart was not in sync with his mind. His heart hoped, but “this body of death” (Romans 7:24) pulled him under.
Jesus then proceeds, with all relevance in freshly-tilled soil, to speak of what it takes to be His disciple:
“Whoever wants to follow me as my disciple must deny self-service and self-preservation, take up their own cross of humility and follow me in the path I have shown you–the path of service and obedience to the Father in all things.
“For whoever is still trying to preserve his reputation as always being right or being on top, will lose it; whoever is trying to preserve his physical life will in the end lose it. But whoever is willing to let go of all this world’s illusions and pass their life in obedience to me and my gospel, will find life in all abundance forever.
“For what good is it that someone seeks his own in this world and yet gives up his own soul? What can you possibly give as an equal trade for your eternal soul?
“If anyone is ashamed to own me, even in the little secret things you hold so dearly, the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
This is my own insufficient, personal paraphrase of Mark 8:34-38. Perhaps, though, it refreshes itself through renewed application.
How Will I Respond?
Will I say to Him, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth…” (1 Samuel 3:7-10) or will I remain in blindness, saying, “No, Lord, not me! I would never!...” (Mark 8:32; Mark 14:31)
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us of all unrighteousness.” — 1 John 1:8-9
Lord, even today, I am tempted to rationalize and justify in my heart. I am tempted to wash myself clean, rather than let you bend down with the towel in your hand to touch my unclean feet. Lord, like Peter I will that you wash ALL of me now. Though I know that you have washed me clean of your wrath on the cross. one impurity stains Your glory in me. I cannot speak for you, if my lamp is dirty with hypocrisy. Let me see myself before You and not turn my gaze toward others’ approval or to put others down in any way. Not even in my heart and mind, Lord, for You see all. Let me give graceto others in the same way that You have given me grace. Let the words of my mouth praise You first, and bless others next. I have tasted of this, and I know that Your wisdom creates joy. I am more appreciative of your grace to me when I give it to others in Your Name. Keep me connected to Your Word in all truth–at all times and with all people. For the glory of Your Name, as my True King, not mocked but victorious and reigning in my heart, Amen.
© 2019 by readpsalm119.com.
 “Self” and “Control” don’t do well un-hyphenated. Apart from Christ, neither can do anything. But together, “self-control”, the control is spent upon the most worthy of subjects! Together, bound in Christ’s own control of me, and with the Holy Spirit’s power enabling me because of Christ, I can control my own self and bring “self” into submission before God. It is a fruit of the Spirit, an outflowing of Christ’s reign in my deepest parts, a transparency that is as beautiful as it is humbling.
“I’m Going To Live the Life I Sing About In My Song” — Mahalia Jackson, [YouTube; 4:00 min], uploaded by Nostalgicjukebox, Feb 13, 2013. This amazing woman of God did just that. Please read about her life at http://www.mahaliajackson.us/biography and most definitely listen to her heaven-inspired message in song by searching for her on YouTube. Her life and message (indeed, her life-message) has been an inspiration to me for many years.
“Holiness is What I Long For”, Micah Stampley, [YouTube; 5:06 min], uploaded by AFRICANQUEENCI, Dec 7, 2010. “Holiness, Righteousness, Brokenness is what I need, what I long for….So take my heart and hold it; Take my mind transform it; Take my will conform it to Yours, O Lord.”