Eyes to See
Written by Claire Ramos
My husband has a set of spiritual reflection questions we complete every New Year. The first question aims to identify one thing you can do to increase your enjoyment of God in the coming year. Last year I wrote “get in nature daily.” Another question asks to identify a time waster. Stephen identified TV and put ours into storage.
Besides less screen-time and more fresh air, 2023 was a year of major adjustments, including the arrival of our firstborn Summer Naomi and my transition to part-time paid work. With all the chaos and exhaustion a new baby brings, there were many months that felt spiritually dry- disconnected from community, not regularly in the Word, unable to serve in ways I had in the past. However, I was able to get outside for a walk nearly every day, and God remained faithful to continue sanctifying me even when I couldn’t see it.
On our walks, God delighted us with gifts of his creativity and joy: the cherry blossoms bursting forth in spring, sandpipers and soft sunsets on the shores of the Atlantic in summer, and entire trees transformed to deep red, brilliant yellow and the occasional flaming orange in fall. How regularly I am tempted to believe I am the god of my own little kingdom of comfort, competence, and convenience, and needed to be reminded that God is the Lord, not me. I was reminded of Romans 1 which tells us that “through everything God made, [we] can clearly see God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature.”
In winter we stood with our daughter in one of the places we love most, pointing out the palms and pelicans along the Pacific, and Psalm 42 came to mind: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me." More clearly, I could see His vastness and power, how our God is infinite, creator and sustainer of it all.
Through this time God has also given me clearer eyes to see my own sin. It has been painful to reflect on how my anger and selfishness have harmed those I love and damaged relationships. It has been humbling to sit in increased awareness of my own brokenness and be unable to rely on the old distractions from this reality- numbing things like binges of TV, or hiding behind a functional identity as a healthcare worker, or trying through service to “earn grace.” I felt as though there were few tangible works I could offer God when many of the things I used to do like hosting supper club, volunteering with transition from prison programs, and meeting with families challenged by poverty seemed overwhelming and unfeasible with a newborn. I was forced to see that God does not need our works. His Son completed the ultimate work on our behalf. He is after our hearts. In 1 Samuel 16:7 we read “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” and in 1st Peter 3 “Your adornment must not be merely external… let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” In giving me clearer eyes to see my own sin, God redirected my gaze to what matters most: the renewing of my heart to increasingly reflect his own. I love the imagery in John 7: Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” What a beautiful picture of abundant life that he calls us to participate in alongside him.
In his faithfulness this past year He called me to a season that looked more inward, a season where I have open hands not just to give, but to receive from the Lord the gift of eyes to see his beauty in creation, a clearer picture of who He is, Creator and Sustainer and Lord of all, and who I am, deeply broken and in need of his grace to redeem my heart.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18