Spiritual victory is realized only when we see the path of life from a higher position. An earthly view alone is too localized and deceptive. Although the immediate view may be accurate, it is nevertheless limited. We can only garner the strength to refuse the compromises of immediate pleasures by acquiring a full and accurate view of life, the sort of “extended vision” which gave Moses the strength to forsake the temporal pleasures of Pharaoh’s palace. “[H]e endured, as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27). When Elisha and his young servant were surrounded by hostile forces, the prophet said,
Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of that young man; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. 2 Kings 6:17
Our tendency to think pessimistically seems to affect our outlook on just about everything. Religious themes are not only not exempted from this pessimism, they are prime targets. This matter of dying to self is a good example of what I mean. It seems the only thing many people can think of when this subject is broached is what they will have to give up, what they are going to lose. Yet God promises that “He that loses his life for my sake will find it.” He will find his life! What encouraging tidings! These are not negative words of loss, but positive words. Jesus offers no equation here. Rather, He offers us life for mere existence, and extended vision for spiritual blindness. It is an offer made by One who knows what living really is, to those who do not. The Master’s words contain no paradox except to those limited by a “flesh and blood” world view.
In other words, this “extended vision” is a direct reward of this process of spiritual death. Job evidently acquired “seeing eyes” after his cross had done its work, for he declared, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mind eye seeth thee” (Job 42:5).
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Those diligent enough to see God will see, as well, the overall structure of life. It’s not that this structure is invisible that so many fail to see it, but that spiritual blindness is so widespread. Life cannot be accurately interpreted by anyone other than a true Christian. This is true not because Christians have necessarily earned positions of counsel, but because they “see.” God has designed that spiritual sight be a possession of the humble. Thus it is that those unwilling to “lose their lives” for His sake are destined to remain blind.
So often those involved in various spiritual projects are totally oblivious to the place and purpose of their particular vision in God’s overall scheme. They work at it day after day with no real understanding of what they are doing. The man of God, however, who has lost his life for Christ’s sake, who has fallen into the ground and died, receives his commission from the Lord along with its context. He arises from his “death” to view the world through eyes that see color and detail which the church’s leisure class fails to notice. To this man life vibrates with meaning and anticipation.
I am a flame born of celestial fire
I bear a name, Insatiable Desire.
I wear in heart an image all divine,
Past human art, not traced by mortal line.
I hear God call to taste His heavenly power,
I give my all to burn life’s single hour.
So let me burn through fetters that would bind;
Thus will I learn and freedom will I find.
I shall return to Love’s eternal fire.
There shall I burn—a satisfied desire. John W. Follette, Broken Bread (Gospel Publishing House), p. 70.
May we pursue a clean heart and righteous hands with the diligence of a David. May we return to Love’s eternal fire and hear him say, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see ….” (Matt. 13:16).