I got my first pair of contacts in the seventh grade. They were (and still are) the old-fashioned rigid plastic kind. The optometrist emphasized to me over and over, "These must be kept clean." Have you ever seen a 12-year-old boy keep anything clean?
After a few months of wearing my contacts (and not following doctor's orders), I woke one night with an excruciating pain in both eyes. It felt like someone had ground up glass and poured it under my eyelids. I was in agony. As bad as my eyes felt closed, the pain increased a dozen fold if I opened my eyes.
I toughed it out until six the next morning. I kept my eyes closed, felt my way down the hall, woke my mom and told her what was happening. She made a call to Dr. Sera, a family friend, who agreed to see me as soon as the office opened.
I kept my eyes closed as Mom fixed breakfast and had the strange sensation of trying to find my way to the eggs on my plate without seeing them. Mom had to lead me to the car and then out of the car to the doctor's office.
Dr. Sera put me in a dark room, pried open my eyes, put some dye in them (which increased the pain!) and told me to relax. Why do doctors tell you to relax when they have knowingly just increased the pain?
He examined my eyes with his special lenses and rendered the verdict: I had a corneal abrasion. Lack of cleaning my contacts caused dirt to accumulate. The contacts had gouged a trench in both eyes. I was given some drops and told to keep my eyes shut for the next 24 hours.
To be blind means you can't see (thank you Captain Obvious!). My brothers tried to trip me as I felt my way to the bathroom. I was the object of lots of jokes at dinner. Mostly, I was bored because I could not watch TV or read. I couldn't go where I wanted to go.
People have scratches on their souls. Sometimes they are wounds from history, or even wounds they absorbed from their parents and grandparents. The scratches cause blindness. In our pain, we close our eyes to realities that cause us to think uncomfortable, painful thoughts. In our blindness, we stumble into prejudice, bigotry, self-righteousness and self-aggrandizement. No one is born a racist; there is a wound in the past that scratches a soul and causes blindness. Our blindness as a culture keeps us from going where we want to go.
What's sad to me is the number of Jesus followers who stay blind. This is not what Jesus wants for any of us. The foretelling of his birth included this line: "Rise and shine, behold your light has come!" Jesus said, "I have come to give sight to the blind" and "I am the light of the world."
Part of Jesus' invitation of grace to you is leave your blindness to your blindness. Let him heal the wounds of your soul. Let him set you free from the limits of your past.
I'll never forget what it felt like after 24 hours to open my eyes again. There was no pain. To paraphrase a classic '60s song, "I could see clearly now, the pain had gone." I kept my contacts clean from then on.
Isn't it time for you to let Jesus touch your blindness that you are blind to? Isn't it time for you to let his light shine on the wounds of your soul? Isn't it time for your wounds and your blindness to be healed?
He sees you and sees the you he wants you to be.
Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church.
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