Learning to see.

In my apartment here in Austria, the kitchen/living space are in front. There’s a big window where light comes through and people like to stare as they walk by. heyyy, just sitting here eating lunch. Nice to see you, too. Oh, the joys of a first-floor apartment.

Then there’s a hallway behind that, from which the bathrooms and our bedrooms branch off. There’s a light switch in this hallway, but most of the time, we leave that off. No one hangs out in the hallway much. And when the door to the kitchen is open, you have enough light.

I’ve made the mistake a few times now of going to be the bathroom without turning on my light or the hall light. I always expect my night vision to be better than it is, and it’s only like ten feet from my room to the bathroom. Even though I’ve made this walk so many times in the daylight, in the darkness, I walk with arms in front of my face and slowly take monster-sized steps to the door, reaching out to feel the wall to avoid injury.

This is as close as I’ve come to being blind, other than being blind-folded for a school project before. But then I had someone telling me what to do, how much higher to lift my hand, how many steps to take.

On these tenuous walks to the bathroom, I was alone. I’m sure if I wasn’t alone, it would have been humorous for anyone with night vision goggles to watch, though.

Today, I was reading in John 9, where Jesus makes mud with his spit (on the Sabbath) and smears it on the eyes of the blind man, then tells him to go to the pool and wash it off. When the man washes the mud off, he can see. It’s a miracle.

And of course, the Pharisees are mad and say, “But it’s the Sabbath. This is our day of rest when you’re not supposed to heal people. Formerly Blind Man, you must have been healed by a sinner. He can’t be good. Give God the glory for this.”

But I love the blind man’s response. It bounced around in my soul a bit before I could keep reading:

(verse 25)”‘I don’t know whether he is a sinner,’ the man replied. ‘But I know this: I was blind, but now I can see!'”

He didn’t know what Jesus looked like. Heck, he probably didn’t know that Jesus used his holy spittle to make the mud. I’m still not sure how he got to the pool. He didn’t know that Jesus was God’s son.

But he testified to what he did know. I WAS blind, but NOW I can see.

I was blind, but now I can see. It doesn’t mean that all his issues are solved now. Actually, perhaps he can see them more clearly. Now he can see his lack of hygiene or that there are a lot of people he doesn’t know. He can see how people look at him, whether kindly or not. What an existential crisis he must have had. I was blind, but now I can see.

I bet his identity was partly wrapped up in being blind. I have a small crisis every winter when my hair gets brown, so I can’t even imagine having to go from being blind to seeing. Not that it changes his value, but it changes what he can do and where he can go and how he’ll feel about things.

Isn’t that what we experience when we meet Jesus? When He spits in the dirt, into something common, and rubs it on our eyes and tells us to go wash it off, we have initial amazement and joy at being able to see. But then we see sin in our lives, blood on our hands, the way we don’t measure up.  It’s not the joy of salvation there. That’s the sorrow at depravity.

But Jesus isn’t done after this exposure. Then he takes our hands and says, “do you want to know how I see you? Do you want to see other people the way I see them?”

We learn to see after we are able to see. Just like we learn to walk after we learn to toddle. We learn to articulate after we learn to speak. We learn to write after we learn to scribble.

And we’re probably still learning this, still getting rid of our blind spots and blurred areas, improving our distance and close up vision, learning to focus.

This is all I know to explain how my life has been changed: “I know this. I was blind. And I’m learning to see.”

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