When Trouble Comes, Don’t Blink

What do we do when we see things others don’t?

How do we respond when they react with scoffing or disbelief?

Why are there signs that to us are as clear as day while to others, they are easily rejected or ignored?

A mother in Knoxville, Tennessee noticed a “small glow” in her 17-month-old daughter’s eye. Her pediatrician dismissed her concerns. She made an appointment with a specialist, but it was months off because they felt no urgency.

So, she posted a photo of the child to social media.  A friend showed it to an eye doctor she worked with at the hospital. He asked to see the child immediately and diagnosed a rare cancer, a small tumor in her eye. His quick diagnosis led to immediate treatment.

The first two doctors were fine physicians but the third had a trained eye.

A trained eye is how experts spot art forgeries, how detectives solve crimes, how mothers determine which child broke the vase, and how quilters arrange a pile of discarded scraps into museum-worthy masterpieces of handcraft.

What we train our eyes to see can make a life-changing difference for others as well as for ourselves.

Do we train our eyes to see God at work, opportunities to share His truth and love, hearts open to the gospel, and how global events point to His return? Or do we train our eyes to see people’s shortcomings, to notice every wall and every giant, to recognize how small we are compared to kingdom tasks, and to spy opportunities for fear and doubt?

No matter how we’ve lived until this moment, we can change the way we see. We can retrain our eyes to become experts at God-focused life-giving views.

When I worked at a gym, I was responsible for enforcing the rules. It didn’t take long for me to realize I had a big problem. Through challenging childhood experiences, my eye was trained to assess people’s emotional states the moment I enter a room. This meant my focus was on faces, postures, and tones of voice. It also meant I missed it entirely if someone was wearing jeans on the leg press or work boots on the treadmill. I had to retrain myself to scan the room from the feet up before I became distracted by people’s moods and needs!

When you are someone with a trained eye, it’s vital that you don’t allow those with common sight to cause you to question what you see.

What if the eye doctor in Knoxville had recently missed a diagnosis and was doubting his abilities? What if he phoned the first doctor who dismissed the new finding and so, he told the family just to watch and wait, so as not to upset his colleague? The story might have a much different ending.

Christians are trained, by God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, and by obedience to Christ, to see the world through God’s eyes. To know that there is a spiritual reality that is unseen but still powerfully impacting our world. To understand our lives and global events in the context of a greater story. To spot deception, false narratives, and lies.

Trusting our training is not the same as harboring pride. We can cultivate humility and still stand by what we see.

The church has gotten things wrong in the past and will continue to fall short of our calling. Believers fall prey to either legalism or licentiousness. False teachers infiltrate the flock and wreak havoc. Leaders with sound teaching hide terrible, sinful secrets. Even now, we reel from the revelation of the double life led by Ravi Zacharias – the network of abuse and lies that trail behind what many saw as a powerful and persuasive ministry – destroyed now because he used his reputation for righteousness as a covering for sin.

It’s a tactic of Satan to use the past and present failures of the church to cow us into silence, to take our eyes off the battle for souls and send us spiraling into endless naval gazing that renders us ineffective for the work of the gospel. Don’t fall for his scheme.

When we are wrong, as a church, as leaders, or as individuals, we must own it, confess, repent, take responsible (often public) steps to address the wrong, and return to our work.

Because here is what is true – God warns us in His word that wolves will come among us. He teaches us that our enemy is a deceiver. He cautions us that some will fall way, their love will grow cold, and that “the sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.” 1 Timothy 5:24 ESV. There’s nothing surprising here, then. When these situations occur, we must keep our heads about us, acknowledge it, continue to stand by the truth of Christ, and move on with the work of the kingdom.

The world needs our trained eye. They need us trusting God’s perspective and speaking it at appropriate opportunities.

What they don’t need is us hedging our bets, casting doubt on what we plainly see, or shrinking into silence because they don’t share our view or because some Christians have spectacularly, publicly failed. Don’t compound their failures by withdrawing your God-informed perspective from the conversation. Their self-destruction will do enough damage without you allowing the trauma of it to ripple into your life and the lives of those God calls you to reach with the gospel.

Spiritual blindness is rampant in our times and it causes many to stumble, to wander down wrong paths, and to act in fear. They don’t see what we see because their eyes are not trained to see it.

We are the ones with the trained eye. When trouble comes, press into God and don’t blink. We never know what may be at stake.

 

 

Is there a hard conversation in your future? You’re invited to attend a free, three-week workshop (one hour each) with me beginning next week on the six steps to prepare for a hard conversation. Join me Thursday at 8pm EST  beginning 3/4/2021 or Fridays at 12 noon EST beginning 3/5/2021. It helps to have a copy of The Art of Hard Conversations but it’s not essential.

Recent guest posts on Crosswalk.com:

What is the will of God?

10 Bible Verses about Kindness

5 Essential Verses about Spiritual Warfare


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2 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Maureen says:

    Thank you for continuing to help us SEE more clearly—to know we’re not alone when we wonder why so many SEE things differently. Looking through the lens of God’s Word is the only way to SEE clearly in these dark days.

  2. Jan Clough says:

    Dear Lori you overwhelm me with your God given perception of hearts and minds, also your wise counsel and gentle nudging. Thank you for nudging us to pray for that keen eye we very much need in our walk with The Lord.
    God bless you