The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)
My husband and I are in the process of making some life changes. We’re giving up our jobs, and leaving our lives in London behind, to go to a ministry school in Northern Ireland for nine months. It’s incredibly exciting, and we believe that God is calling us to take some risks in pursuit of Him. We believe it’s what God wants us to do.
But there have been times when the decision to go has become more real, and I’ve been overcome with terrible feelings of fear. Could I really trust God to come through for us? Would God really be there for us if we took this risk? What if His plan was for us to quit our jobs, give up our lives here, and then we would go away and have a REALLY HORRIBLE TIME?
Jesus says in the passage above that some people see the world with an eye full of light. Others see with an eye full of darkness. And I’ve been asking myself what those two perspectives look like.
What do they see when they look out onto the world? What do they see when they look at God? And which kind of eye do I have?
In the famous story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17), we can see that when faced with difficulties, David wasn’t about self-reliance and self-protection. David’s view of God was that if he gave himself completely – if he literally threw himself into the arms of God and showed up – God would show up too. In fact, David staked his life on that.
And of course, we know that God showed up. David defeated Goliath. The Israelites won the victory, through a small shepherd boy with a sling and some stones.
And despite his many, many faults, David throughout his life, stayed relying on God. I think the reason for that is because David saw God for who He really was: he saw God as a good Father who could be trusted.
Unlike his predecessor, Saul, he had the confidence to throw himself into the arms of his Father, because he knew that he wouldn’t be let down. Where Saul tried to take matters into his own hands, in the face of danger, David gave everything up to God.
And so David is called ‘a man after God’s own heart’. The life of David is a powerful illustration of the kind of trusting abandon we can have when we see God for who He really is – as a true, loving, perfect Father – and the kind of legacy that can result when we pursue God wholeheartedly.
How we see God will deeply affect every part of our lives. It will affect every decision we make. And there are, I believe, two ways to view God: one is to see Him with eyes full of light; the other is to see Him with eyes full of darkness.
Sometime we get so concerned for our own wellbeing, so consumed by fear and distress, that we cut ourselves off – we step in, and remove ourselves from situations that God might want to step into.
Other times, we count ourselves out. We refuse to get out of the boat at all, and live diminished and risk-free existences.
In both scenarios, we view the world through darkened eyes, only seeing scarcity and lack. We act out of fearfulness and self-reliance.
Too often, that’s been me. I’ve been guilty of saying that I trust God, but ultimately not believing that He’s really going to be there for me.
In contrast, David lived completely in the flow of God’s Spirit. He believed that he could surrender himself completely to God, and God would be for him. He didn’t see God’s goodness as limited. His eye, despite his moral failings, remained light, because he knew God.
Since I was little, I’ve thought I had to constantly sacrifice to please God. But what if God is actually asking us, instead of sacrifice, for surrender? A surrender of our whole being, not trying to empty ourselves, but giving all of who we are to God so that He can run with it, in daring and unusual and wonderful ways? A surrender that trusts this – this trial, this circumstance, this situation – will turn out for the good, and not for evil?
When we surrender to God, He comes into our situation. We’re inviting Him to change things. To change us. It’s an expansive, enlarging action. It’s a giving, not a taking away.
So do I believe, deep down, like David, that God is good? Do I believe He’s for me? Or do I believe in my current situation, whatever that might be, that I’m in this on my own?
Do I see the world – and God – with an eye full of darkness, or an eye full of light?