I always seem to have a song running through my mind. Right now it is Johnny Nash’s “I can see clearly now.”
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
No, I used to see clearly. I used to have 20/15 vision. Which I thought was quite good. Better, you know, than the standard 20/20 we all hear about. Hindsight is 20/20. And that news show is 20/20. Yep, 20/20, clear vision.
As it turns out 20/20 is sort of the lower limit of normal, the bare minimum, if you will. According to Wikipedia (I know, I know, but it’s right there!) “the average visual acuity of healthy eyes is 20/16 to 20/12” So what I thought was great vision turns out to have just been average.
And I was so proud. I had 20/15. Mere mortals had 20/20, but I had 20/15.
Like this was something I accomplished myself. You too could have 20/15 vision if you just…what? Tried harder?
Well taking pride in something you had no hand in can backfire. Because I no longer have 20/15 vision. I don’t know what the measurement is now, but I can tell you that I cannot read without my glasses, and I never had that problem before. I could read anything: near, far, small, large, computer, print, I could see it all.
Now I can’t. So having taken pride in my vision I wonder…is it my fault? How did I blow the good vision thing? Should I not have started using glasses? Did that do it?
No, the sad truth is that I can’t see clearly any more because of age.
I am aging. Getting old. Body parts are breaking down. Hair greying, skin wrinkling, you get the picture.
So I don’t see so well anymore. It is just a symptom.
But the underlying cause may not be what you think.
I don’t see clearly anymore because I am aging. But is aging the cause or another symptom? Is there something deeper?
This is an important question. A proper diagnosis is vital to proper treatment. For an accurate treatement we must discern if something is a symptom or the underlying cause.
It does no good to simply stop a symptom; say, pain. No one wants to be in pain, but if we don’t get at the root cause, if we just take a pill to make the pain stop, we miss the whole disease or injury. And the pain will come back, maybe with other symptoms, because the problem still exists.
One of my favorite examples of proper diagnosis is an incident related in the gospel of Mark chapter 2. Jesus is teaching in a house. People hear this and come from great distances to hear him. One group comes to do more than listen. Four friends are carrying a fifth friend to the house where Jesus is because their friend is paralyzed. They want Jesus to heal him. They want their friend to walk.
They get to the house, but can’t even get near the door, the crowd is too big. In a true sitcom move, these determined friends get on the roof and dig a hole in the roof and lower their paralyzed friend into the house through the hole in the roof.
Can you imagine? What was this guy feeling? He, being paralyzed, had no control over what they were doing. Was he glad? Embarrassed? Desperate to walk?
What kind of mess did this make? What was the homeowner thinking? Good thing the crowd was large, he probably couldn’t get to the dudes on the roof.
The four friends were likely feeling pretty good. Mission accomplished! They carried their friend, overcame the crowd and managed to lower him into the house right in front of Jesus.
Then, perhaps, they were peering in, waiting for the miracle, waiting to see the victory: their friend walking!
Jesus looks at the man and says, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”
Allright! … wait, what?! What did he say? Sins? What sins? Hey Jesus, we carried him here so you could make his legs work man!
They weren’t the only ones confused by Jesus’ statement. Some guys who spent their lives studying about God were a little bent out of shape by this statement. See, they knew only God could forgive sin. So…what? What was this guy Jesus claiming? Was he claiming to be God?
Jesus knew what they were thinking. And he addressed the God-guys, “Why are you thinking this? What is easier? To say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say ‘Get up and walk.’ I want you to understand, I have authority to forgive sins.”
So Jesus looks at the paralytic and says, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”
And he does.
What a great scene from God’s sitcom! We had adversity, conflict, struggle, humor and a surprise ending!
Jesus, the great physician, makes a proper diagnosis: paralysis is a symptom. The cause? A broken world, ruined by sin. Original sin, my sin, your sin. Everything is busted. This is not how the world was created, this is a damaged version.
Jesus came to make it right.
The four friends just wanted their buddy to be able to walk. Jesus wanted him to be whole, be who he was meant to be, be reconciled to his creator. Jesus took out the underlying disease.
And, in case there was any doubt, he made the symptom go away too. A little visual aid.
Something to help us see clearly.
I still exhibit symptoms of the brokenness of this world. I need my glasses to write this. My body is going to continue to break down till one day it gives out.
But…and this is a big but…the underlying cause of my aging eyes has been dealt with.
My sins are forgiven. Just like the dude with the four really good friends. Forgiveness was granted by Jesus. He had the authority to do it. It was a debt I owed. He paid it in full.
That’s what Easter is all about, Charlie Brown.
I may not see clearly anymore, but living in forgiveness, I am looking good.