Restored for Eternity
The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
I John 2:17
While I may avoid the doctor more than I should, going to the eye doctor for an annual checkup is something I rarely miss. Why? Because there is a strong history of not just bad eyesight but eye disease in my family. I even got to add to the list several years ago when I was diagnosed with thin cornea which had, because it was so thin, become misshapen causing issues with my vision. If you think a regular visit to the eye doctor isn’t fun, I promise that you will not enjoy a visit to a cornea specialist. The very real possibility of losing my sight was not something I enjoyed facing then, nor is it something I look forward to living with for the rest of my life.
Every once in a while I can’t help but think of the things I would miss if I couldn’t see. I would miss seeing the many varied expressions on my niece’s faces that often make me laugh. I would miss watching sunsets filled with colors of indescribable brilliance. I would miss the soft light that filters through stained glass windows on a sunny day. I would miss being able to gaze with satisfaction on a freshly cleaned and organized space with labels all neatly lined up to tell me what is in each box and bin. I would miss seeing my friends grow old with grace, embracing the wisdom which often accompanies a few gray hairs. I would miss seeing the green haze trees get each spring when the leaves are just barely starting to grow, the colors of fall, and the blinding white of sunshine on freshly fallen snow.
It’s relatively easy for us to realize what we would miss if we lost our physical sight. Simply keep your eyes closed for a bit or put on a blindfold. What would you need to do to find your way safely around your home? How would you get to work, to school, to the store? How would you know what to buy at the store? What would you need to be able to read your email or text messages? What apps would simply get deleted from your phone and what apps would you hope are out there? It isn’t hard to get a taste for what it would be like to be physically blind. But what about being spiritually blind?
The final verses of Luke 18 tell the story of a man who is physically blind and healed by Jesus. A blind beggar man, who is named Bartimaeus according to Mark 10, is sitting by the roadside and hears the crowds going by. When he is told the crowds are because of Jesus, he cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” It strikes me as a great act of trust on the part of the blind man to take the people passing by at their word. There doesn’t appear to be any doubt they have told him the truth of who is passing by as he cries out for mercy.
Those passing didn’t care for Bartimaeus’ pleas for mercy. They told him to be quiet. But Bartimaeus knew this was his chance to see for himself who Jesus was and so he shouted even louder. I feel like I’ve played both roles of this story. I feel like I’ve told people who are simply seeking to encounter Jesus to quiet down, calm down, be more “normal” or “acceptable” in the way you approach Jesus. I also feel like I’ve been the one to stubbornly call out, not really caring about others opinions, until I come face to face with Jesus.
Jesus asks what seems like a rather dumb question of our blind beggar. “What do you want me to do for you?” I mean, if I were blind, being able to see would be top of my list. But Jesus wants him to say the words out loud for the crowds to hear. “Lord, I want to see,” is his reply. Bartimaeus already saw with spiritual eyes who Jesus was, the one who would have mercy on him and heal him. Others who are healed by Jesus walk away and never seem to give him a second thought (ex. Luke 17:11-19). But in this instance, immediately upon being physically healed he follows Jesus and praises God, inspiring others to do the same.
Because Bartimaeus could see who Jesus was despite his physical blindness, he becomes a catalyst of change for others to see Jesus for who he truly was and therefore change their lives, not just for a day, but for eternity.
Isn’t it so easy to forget that it isn’t all about today, this moment, or even this year or season in life? We get so focused on the here and now that we forget that we are saved for a life lived in eternity. Eternity is so much bigger than we can imagine. We like to think of it as just before creation to just beyond forever but it isn’t bound by any concept of time because it is beyond time. Being bound my time, we can’t understand something which can never be defined by terms like yesterday, today, tomorrow, forever, a long time ago, in the future, or someday. Those terms and phrases, and others like them, are completely meaningless when it comes to eternity.
The writer of 1 John is attempting to remind us of this important truth. Everything that is of this world will eventually pass away. So if you live for the fleeting, temporary desires of this world, you will eventually pass away alongside those desires. But faith in God, living according to God’s will, is living with eternity in mind. It is living knowing that there is a bigger picture than the here and now. It is living knowing there is something beyond our ability to even imagine.
- What would you miss most if you suddenly lost your physical sight? Try going for some set amount of time without seeing anything. What do you notice about your environment when you can’t see your surroundings?
- How is you spiritual sight? Do you see Jesus for who he really is or are you missing a vital piece of information because you refuse to see it?
- What does eternity mean for you?