Ephesians 1:18 “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…”
God doesn’t wait for volunteers. When he needed a nation to carry on the promise and the bloodline of the Savior, he didn’t travel from one part of the ancient world to another, asking whether anyone was interested. He told Abraham, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation…”
When he needed a king to lead his people, he didn’t ask David, “Would you like to do something other than watch sheep?” He sent Samuel to anoint this teenager king, almost before David knew what was happening.
When Jesus needed 12 men to lead his church as apostles after him, he didn’t post a sign-up list and wait for volunteers. He found men at work, and in the middle of the day he told them to put everything down and follow him.
God doesn’t wait for volunteers. He calls people. He calls them to faith. He calls them to service. The reason you believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior is that God has called you. His gospel made your unwilling heart willing. It has turned you from fear and doubt to trust and confidence.
Seeing our Christian calling isn’t a natural thing. Have you ever seen the movie National Treasure? In the movie, in order to read clues hidden on the back of the original Declaration of Independence, clues that lead to a treasure hidden by America’s founding fathers, the hero of the movie, Benjamin Gates, needs special glasses with colored lenses invented by Ben Franklin. Without the glasses, all you see is parchment.
In order for us to understand what is really going on in the world, we need God’s clues. But we can’t see them at all without his special “glasses.” That’s why the Bible often describes our natural spiritual condition as “blindness” or “darkness.” We just can’t see. That’s why the Lord gives us his gospel and calls us to faith. Even then our vision is often blurred by our sinful nature. That’s why Paul prays that our hearts may be enlightened. Then we can see the hope to which God has called us.
Are you aware of the darkness of which I am speaking? We still fight it in our own lives. It creeps into our thinking in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. If you became deathly ill and suffered from chronic pain with no relief, if your family was coming apart at the seams, if you lost your job, if one of these sink holes you hear about on the news from time to time opened up right under your house and swallowed it whole, what would you conclude? You might start wondering what you ever did to make God so mad. You might even start to question his fairness. Your faith in God’s goodness and love might be seriously shaken.
And you would be wrong. That is the unenlightened thinking of spiritual darkness. That’s your sinful nature talking. It is a serious threat to your faith.
If you are like me, your first thought would not be, “How deeply God must love me to go to such lengths to loosen my grip on this world, to teach me that there is no heaven on earth, to leave me nothing on which I can rely except him alone, and to give me this opportunity to know his all-encompassing love even better.” To us, the parchment looks blank. The darkness makes it impossible to see.
For this, we need to put on the special glasses. Eyes of faith looking through gospel lenses interpret everything in the light of Christ’s cross and God’s promises. Then we can conclude with Dr. Becker, “In this way the children of God learn to know that God is nearest just at the moment when he seems to be farthest away. At the time when he seems to be most angry, when he sends them afflictions and trials, they know him best as their merciful Savior. When they feel the terrors of sin and death most deeply, then they know best that they have eternal righteousness. And just when they are of all men the most miserable, they know that they are lords over all things.”
May the eyes of our hearts be enlightened, so that we see everything through the lenses of God’s love.