One of the side effects of my port-wine stain birthmark is that I was born with glaucoma in my left eye. In very basic terms, a person with glaucoma has elevated pressure in their eye which is a result of improper draining of the fluids around the eye. Untreated, it causes permanent blindness. I had my first eye surgery as an infant and a couple of others as I was growing up. Eventually, it became obvious that the battle was going in the wrong direction. I had already lost a good deal of vision and what little was left would require an unknown number of surgeries to maintain. I made the decision to stop treating my left eye and accepted the fact that I would have blindness in that eye.
Over the years, I developed a cataract in my left eye. God’s design of the body is so amazing. That cataract has served as a shield for my optic nerve…sort of protecting the tissue of my eye. Cataracts are only good for so long, though, and mine is being removed this Tuesday. As I was having all of my preoperative testing done, my ophthalmologist casually mentioned that it would be interesting to see what I could see after the cataract is removed.
I sort of stuttered out a response…”But, I can’t see anything in that eye. I’m totally blind.”
“Yes,” he replied, “because of your cataract. What I can see, your retina looks to be healthy and in decent condition. It will just be interesting to see what you are able to see after the surgery.”
I was too stunned to ask any questions or say anything more. My hands shook as I tried to unlock the car door. I sat in the car listening to my own heart beating out a strange, almost frantic rhythm. Did I hear him right? Does he really think I’m going to see something out of this blind eye?
Part of me wanted to dance a jig…even to be able to see light and color, shadows, outlines would be incredible. Another (bigger) part of me was filled with doubt. Total disbelief. I mean, after all, I haven’t seen well out of this eye since I was a little girl. It just isn’t possible. And, I shouldn’t get my hopes up over something that so clearly isn’t going to happen. That would be such a waste of time and energy. Better to focus on what is real. I’m okay with my sight status and don’t even notice it any more.
But, it’s been bugging me that I was so unwilling to believe that my sight–in any amount–could be restored. I almost felt guilty about not believing that God could heal me. I think a lifetime of being cautiously optimistic trains you to avoid any sort of emotional enthusiasm. This is different.
So, I prayed. And have been praying. Not for my sight to be restored, but for God to give me peace with the outcome, whatever it may be. And He has. I do have a peace about whatever His will is. But I’ve not once ever asked for my sight. It seemed like too much to ask for, like getting a really great gift for Christmas and then asking for a pony to go with it.
Until this morning.
Our pastor has been teaching in Matthew for several weeks and we began chapter 9 this morning. We know the story of the paralytic man and his friends lowering him through the roof to Jesus. His friends believed that Jesus could bring him healing and carried their friend to Jesus. First, Jesus tells the paralytic man that his sins are forgiven. Later, to show evidence of His authority to forgive sins, He heals the paralytic man. Jesus models the right priorities for us. We should be first concerned with the health of our souls…where are we in relationship to God? Once that matter is settled, everything else begins to work itself out.
The gospels don’t record any response from the paralytic man. I wonder if Jesus’ words, “Your sins are forgiven,” brought comfort and relief to him? I wonder if he cried in gratitude? I wonder if he instantly knew that Jesus knew that forgiveness was just exactly what he truly needed?
I love that Jesus healed this man…from the inside out. What good is physical healing without heart healing? What help would it be to release this man from the bond’s of physical infirmity without first releasing his heart and soul from the bonds of sin?
Something clicked in my own heart after today’s message. First, I was filled with gratitude over the awesome work of healing God has done in my own heart. That He would love me, care for me, make me whole…words cannot describe the JOY! But, then I realized that it was certainly okay to ask God to heal my eye. In fact, I should ask for that. Should I live my life waiting for that to happen? No. Should I be disappointed if God chooses to use my blindness for some other purpose? No. Should I continue to rest in Him and in His care for me? YES!
I think the paralytic man would have been satisfied with forgiveness…with being in right relationship with God. With the new heart beating inside his chest, in rhythm with God’s. But, Jesus doesn’t stop with what we find satisfying. He has a way of going beyond our wildest dreams and imaginings to bring us to places we could never have fathomed. He gives us good gifts…and then keeps giving them to us again and again. So, I’m asking Him to have His way with me…if being blind in one eye will give Him more glory, I want that. Likewise, if it would reveal His authority, His glory, if it would testify even in a small way to restore part or all of the sight in my left eye, then I want that, too. I am not being shy to tell Him that I have a preference…He already knows that I do. And I believe that He will lovingly protect my heart no matter what His plan.
Thank You, Lord….for these years of physical blindness and the character they have produced. And thank You for these many years of restored heart-sight…that You have saved me from a heart of darkness and brought me into the light of Your love. Have Your way with me…in all things. I am willing, Lord. Amen.