This is Part 4 in a series on Familiarity. View previous entries here.
Sometime last year, I walked into the Lenscrafters in my local mall, in order to purchase a new pair of glasses. An hour later, I was trying on a pair that were identical as my previous pair—the only difference was a new type of lenses.
As I walked into the mall, everything looked different. I was seeing the world around me in a way that was more fresh and vivid than before.
I can see clearly now.
I thought I could see clearly before, but that was really just what I was familiar with. As my eyes began to adjust, I began to wonder how much my old lenses had kept me from seeing, and my head began to ache. Sometimes, when we begin to see things in a new way, it disorients us a bit, but that feeling eventually fades.
What was interesting about this was I didn’t know how much of a difference my new lenses would make until I began to look through them. I just noticed I needed new lenses, because the old ones were scratched up quite a bit. This wasn’t extremely noticeable though, because it was familiar. But when I got new lenses, which were not familiar, I noticed the difference in how I could see.
I think there are many of us who struggle to see the full color and beauty of the world around us, because we’re still looking through our old lenses. It’s as if our vision is blurred, and we can only see certain aspects of reality. And the worst part is, we don’t even realize that we cannot see clearly. It’s not until we put new lenses on that we realize there is something that we’ve been missing, that there is more than one way to see. Because as long as we keep looking through our old, familiar lenses, we will continue to believe that what we see is all there is.
The implications of this are staggering when we think in terms of our spiritual lives.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. ~ Ephesians 1:18-19a, NIV
In this passage, the Apostle Paul is praying for the Ephesians, that the eyes of their hearts may be enlightened. In other words, he is praying that that their spiritual eyes (rather than just their natural eyes) will be opened. He’s praying that they will be able to see things differently, see beyond what is familiar. He’s praying that they would get new lenses, that what happened to me physically would happen to them spiritually.
If new lenses in the natural realm substantially change the way we see, how much more do new lenses in the spiritual realm?
My new lenses were not just new in the sense that they were not old, they were actually upgraded from my old lenses, specifically for the purpose of seeing things more clearly. But I didn’t realize just how clearly until I actually put them on.
The eyes of our hearts are not just upgraded versions of our physical eyes; they are an entirely different way of seeing. In this passage, Paul is saying that this new way of seeing reveals: 1) The hope to which we’ve been called 2) The riches of the inheritance God has given us 3) The reality that all of Heaven’s power and resources are available to us.
When we begin to see with the eyes of our hearts, it’s not so much that we’re seeing something new, it’s that we’re seeing what has always been. Like with my glasses, familiarity has a way of preventing us from seeing what is right in front of us—or at least, not all there is to see of what is right in front of us.
Familiarity causes us to think that our experience is the only experience. When we’ve only seen through one set of lenses our entire lives, we don’t realize that there are other ways to see. But when God gives us new lenses, we begin to realize that our story is not the only story, that there are many ways to see.
I can see clearly now—and you have the opportunity to see clearly too. The first step to seeing clearly is realizing you need new lenses, even if it’s not for the reason that you think. Because even though we recognize our need, we never recognize how great our need was until we’ve seen it through new lenses.