Eyes to See


Recently, I decided to drive through Winnipeg's North End. I wanted to see for myself the part of the city that everyone tells me to avoid.

I saw heartache, felt it as a woman leaned against the dirty brick of an old hotel in a known prostitution district, where rooms are rented by the hour. Another woman with orange-red hair walked in front of my car. Her eyes gambolled beneath a glaze of overstimulation. She barely made it across the street. Old men with long, frizzy beards stood on the sidewalks, their net worth bundled up in shopping carts.

No one wants to see this desperation.

So we chase after the larger city, a Winnipeg lined with beauty. Two grand rivers intersect at The Forks. Elms canopy the boulevards. And we are touched by extraordinary angles of architecture.

We are blessed by churches and cathedrals.

But a lot of the folks living in the North End can't see much beyond their shoes.

I wonder if church life, to them, resembles a dressy pair of oversized shoes. Nice if you can score a pair. But they'll never fit. Not really.

As I'm turning street corners, I'm also turning over questions. Is Jesus truly relevant to the cold, hard concrete of their lives? Or have I reduced Christ by making Him relevant (only or mostly) to my own problems, struggles and dreams.

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jer. 33:3)

Am I ready to hear those things? Don't I know enough already?

Jeremiah was cast into a cistern. There was no water. Nothing to sustain him. Only mud.

Ebed-melech was somebody who believed in answers. He called out to hear God's great and mighty things. They weren't just answers to personal dreams or struggles. They weren't songs or words of emotional encouragement to lift his spirit.

They were great and mighty things.

God put Jeremiah's imprisonment on his heart and told him to do something.

“Keep calling to me,” He says. “I will show you.”

First, God gave him access to the king, his men, and the storeroom of his palace. Think of all the treasures and rich solutions at his disposal.

Good for him, right? But I don't have any resources like that.

But then God takes him deeper, takes him beneath the storeroom. God points to a pile of worn-out garments and rags. Ebed-melech grabs them and uses them to pull Jeremiah out of a pit.

God provides, yes?

I believe those words. In fact, I'd probably repeat them to myself all day long as I rummaged through the palace to find the perfect solution. Is this ladder long enough? Where's the rope? Is this even my job? Maybe I should grab some gold and just hire a contractor?

Worst case scenario? While Jeremiah is kneeling up to his neck in mud, I'm stuck at home, still beseeching God to meet my needs and solve my problems.

God-vision looks so different than my own.

Am I willing to call out for it? Am I worried these “mighty things” will take me into some uncomfortable neighbourhoods of the spirit?

Father, show us where these people are. Show us the ones who wait for You in muddy pits because we've been rescued and redeemed. With a purpose.

Tell us Your great and mighty things. Show us what to do, what to reach for. We need Your vision.

Because if we stick with our vision, we'll likely ignore any answers that look like worn-out clothing. The clock is ticking. Jeremiah's in the mud. He's been waiting for us, praying we don't miss anything.

Or anyone.

Linking with Laura Boggess at The Wellspring.


11 thoughts on “Eyes to See

  1. It’s so true that we need the guidance of God in the matter of brokenness. It’s all around us as well as within our self. It is a very overwhelming thing to look at. When we are shown the brokenness, we can try to cover it or fix it; …or we can look to, and point to, Jesus, …in Hope, Faith and Love.

    So, should we focus for the brokenness in our self and around us? Actually, I think that we should be aware of it, but, have our main focus on relating with God; giving over and asking and listening. He will change our hearts and tell us what to do.

    LIsten and do it.

    Sometimes i hear, and i don’t do. His voice is soft. So soft and clear to my to my heart. My mind overrides and makes itself busy thinking instead of doing.

    Listen and do it.

    There is nothing wrong with His form of communication. It doesn’t need an update or to be repeated. There is no break in the connection, …i can hear Him clearly. He tells me what He wants me to do. There is no question about that. Am i going to do what He tells me to do? That is the question.

    Or am i going to focus on the brokenness?

    • Such a wise and beautiful comment, Nancy. My heart listened to each word very closely. And agreed. Thank you for this reminder: my relationship (i.e., a two-way divine communication) must always precede my work.

  2. Can I just tell you how glad I am to see you out in this space once again? You always write so very well and evocatively. And this? This is the tough part, the true part. Yeah, most of us don’t see the dirty clothes as part of a possible solution. Lord, give us eyes to see, give ME eyes to see.

  3. This is really powerful, Matthew. And incredibly insightful. (not to mention well written, of course. Your words are a pleasure, making the message even more graciously received.)
    I really don’t know anything.

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