Here’s a link to my column in today’s Greenville News:  ‘Easter brings us clarity.’  The text follows.

Clarity is precious

Clarity is precious

I had surgery in early March. I’ve always believed we could date our lives by our procedures. You have your tonsils out as a child, your fractures are reduced as a teen and there are c-sections for ladies in their 20’s and 30’s. Soon after we have things like vasectomies, tubal ligations, biopsies, hysterectomies, colonoscopies, heart surgies, broken hips, prostatectomies and all the rest. There’s a rough sequence to it all.

My surgery, though, was out of sequence. I had a cataract removed from my right eye. Why did I get one before the age of 45? I have no idea. But over the course of a few years, my vision became progressively more dim. Too lazy to put on reading glasses at home, my wife Jan accused me of trying to use my eyeball to ‘read braille.’ I was holding books so close it seemed I’d rub my eye across them. I had a good left eye, however my right eye was not only blurry, I was seeing three of every light source. Most embarrassing, I couldn’t shoot nearly as well as my oldest son, Sam, my natural marksman.

Good wife that she is, Jan constantly and patiently suggested I have surgery. I finally relented (though why I waited so long can only be attributed to SHS, ‘stubborn husband syndrome’).

The day I of my surgery I was simply amazed. The world was, once again, a place of binocular color and depth. On the way home, our conversation went like this: ‘What’s that building on the hill up there?’ ‘Honey, that’s an apartment complex. It has been there about three years.’ ‘Oh. Have you always been brunette?’ ‘You better hope so.’

Even the letters on my computer suddenly jumped out at me in three incredible dimensions! I had no idea what I had lost, for I was slowly and comfortably immersed in my limitation, my lack of perception.

I think that Easter is rather like that surgery of mine. Humanity, blind to itself, blind to hope, blind to good and mostly blind to God, was moving through life in the shadows. Along came Jesus and before anyone knew it, there was clarity. Clarity in his life of righteousness and love; clarity in his words of truth; clarity in his acceptance of fallen man and clarity in his devotion to the Father.

But the greatest clarity came with the event we call Easter, which was the defining mission of Jesus. He did not come to tell us to be nice, or to tell us the poor suffered or that oppressors were evil. Everyone knew that; countless teachers had already pointed out those verities. His death and resurrection were his mission. He performed the procedure we so needed; ‘it is finished,’ he said from the cross. Not his life, but his sacrifice, and through him our transformation.

It was beyond incredible; and yet, we who profess him rarely realize the vision we now have. When we take the time, when we study and contemplate, pray and worship we see what Jesus came to do. His gift to us clarified our vision like nothing else in history.

Suddenly, with the sacrifice done, the sin removed, the guilt atoned, the universe became a place where we were welcome, where we had purpose, where we had no reason to fear and every reason to love. We could see that we were no longer strangers to, or enemies of, God the father, but that we were adopted into his family.

Remarkably, we who felt fallen and broken and who accepted the gift of this spiritual ‘procedure’ could see that we were re-born, new creatures, hopeful and transformed. We could see the entire universe, all of history, all of the sorry, sinful, suffering world and all of the formerly terrifying future, through the new lens of Jesus. And we could feel compelled, not by guilt but by love, to offer others the same transformation.

Evangelism was never meant to be a bludgeon, but an offer of healing. ‘I couldn’t see, and now I can. And you can too, if you like!’ Even as I’m amazed by how dim my world would be without my new lens implant, I shudder at how dark it would be if I could not see everything through the person and redemption of Jesus.

I’m thankful for my new, crystalline vision; both for the lens in my eye and for the new sight that came at Easter, all those years ago.

God bless you all richly, especially this coming Holy Week!


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