Advent Day 10- How do you see things?

It’s all in how you see things…I mean, how you really see things.  The kind of seeing that is not just through your physical eyes, but, instead, how you see things with your soul paying attention to what God’s doing. This “soul seeing”  sees more clearly when praying is happening.  What this soul seeing sees is often invisible to others unless they too are praying with you.

A few weeks ago, a long-term project came to an overwhelming obstacle.  I was ready to quit.  I didn’t know how to continue it anymore.  As I often do when discouraged, I retreated into a good book, licking my wounds, feeling rather abandoned by God.  That good book, however, gave me surprisingly creative ideas about a new project.  A project, I thought, that would distract me from the first disappointing one.  My energy began to pour into planning the new project.

But then, a few mornings later in my devotions, it suddenly hit me while praying: this new project wasn’t an escape from the first.  It was not a timely coincidence that happened to get me out of my doldrums and self-pity.  It actually was a gift of God doing a great thing. God had not left me high and dry after all.  The new project had everything to do with the first.  God was offering a creative remedy for doing the first project in a different way.  It was all in the matter of “soul seeing.”   The turn of events and new opportunity was not a random coincidence, but was God’s direct, redeeming answer in an overwhelming situation.

And so Mary sings: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior who has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me……

As I wrote yesterday, Mary could have kept count of all the difficult situations she was facing and, heaven knows, there would be many more painful challenges to come. She could have seen her visit to Elizabeth as an escape from all the hardship she was facing.  But instead, with her soul-seeing heart, she identified what most others could not yet see, how God was doing mighty things in her life…in her body, in fact.  Elizabeth, a woman of prayer, also recognized God’s great work in Mary.   With her soul eyes, Elizabeth identified the baby Mary was carrying as the Messiah, not a youthful mistake of passion.  Joseph, a godly man, eventually came to understand the “soul seeing”‘ truth as well; he would adopt the Messiah as his own son to help raise.  Why?  A mighty God was doing a great thing, not just in terms of their personal lives and little family, but in terms of a larger whole for a greater good.  (The larger whole was the  the world; the greater good was the world’s salvation) .  It took the way of soul’seeing for Joseph, Mary and Elizabeth to acknowledge what others could not yet see..

So how do we get our soul-sight working?  How do we see beyond the everyday discouragements that weigh us down?

I don’t pretend to have the answers.  God works so differently in different people.  But I can say what helps me, in spite of the fact I must be “blind” more often than not.  I try to take quiet time to listen to God’s word in scripture and pray about it….for me that is in the morning, writing in my journal and walking the dogs before I go into the office.  And then, either in the morning or at night, I try to take time to look (and sometimes hunt) for what God has done in the day (or the day before).  Sometimes, in the most difficult things of my life, there is at least something, even if quiet and subtle, for which I can be grateful.  Upon more reflection, that one thing may actually be a mighty act of God that almost got away without me recognizing it.  Most of the time, the lack of recognition is my own fault for not paying attention.  On the other hand, and please forgive me, there are times I really do wonder if God relishes playing hide-and-seek.  If so, why do I need to be so serious?!   God might be inviting us to take a playful delight in hunting out and discovering what and where God has been up to.  So go hunting with your special set of eyes today.

While others thought she was in a serious predicament, Mary, with soul-seeing eyes, joyfully, and maybe playfully, laughed:  The Mighty One has done great things for me!