Open Your Eyes to the Light

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Diana Trautwein -Eyes to the Light3

“However, late, then, it may seem, let us rouse ourselves from lethargy. That is what scripture urges on us when it says: the time has come for us to rouse ourselves from sleep. Let us open our eyes to the light that can change us into the likeness of  God. Let our ears be alert to the stirring call of his voice crying to us every day: today, if you should hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Benedict of Nursia

The root of lethargy is often fear. And this is what I know about fear: it slams the door on the light. When we are afraid, anxious, worried, and preoccupied with all that is wrong, evil and difficult in our world, there is no room for the light to shine.

So let’s talk about fear, shall we?

I see it everywhere these days—on the news, in the headlines—spreading its tendrils all across the internet. Some days, it is downright palpable. Even more alarming, I see it creeping into conversations within the broader Christian community. It often takes the form of suspicion, accusation, bullying and labeling:

How can you call yourself a Christian if you believe ________?
If you welcome those kind of people, then how can you be true to scripture?
The sin of person “A” is so much worse than the sin of person “B” that Person A must be excluded at all costs.

Words are flung around like darts, leaving wounds wherever they land. Lines are drawn and battle cries sounded. And curling around every shout, every barb, every accusation, is the acrid smoke of fear.

We are afraid that the Bible will be mistreated.
We are afraid that our standards will be lowered.
We are afraid that our doctrinal stand will be softened.

Most of all, we are afraid that if these things happen, our image of God will be forever altered. The bottom line, if we’re really honest, is that we are terrified that our understanding of who God is and how God behaves and whom God loves will slip out of our ‘control.’ We have given in to the fear that our foundation will be shaken beyond recovery and that the slippery slope will lead us all straight to hell.

Whoa!

Can we take a breath here? Can we step back from the precipice and refocus our attention on the God we meet in the work, words and person of Jesus Christ, the one who is revealed to us in the pages of our scripture and in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our world?

“Let us open our eyes to the light that can change us into the likeness of God.”

Read that line out loud, would you? Several times.

If you breathe in those words, focus on them and meditate on them, you will discover them to be the antidote for all the fear we carry. Because here is what fear does: it flips that sentence on its head, doesn’t it? Instead of concentrating on opening our eyes to the light—the LIGHT that can change us into the likeness of God—we insist on looking at the darkness, thereby expecting God to conform to our likeness. We get it backwards.

Over and over again, we fall prey to the besetting sin of creating a god in our own image, based upon our fears, rather than looking toward the image of the God Who Is God, the One who is revealed in our world, in our scripture, and in one another. We want God to fit in a box that feels comfy to us; a box that matches what we think a right and proper god should look like. We want that god to agree with our politics, to hate the same people we hate, to exclude those folks that make us uncomfortable and to condemn those with whom we disagree.

Here’s the thing: it doesn’t work that way. God will not be contained by our ideas, our prejudices, or our fears. The only antidote is the one suggested by Benedict, strange old monk that he was. Look for the light. Turn away from the darkness of fear, lift your face to the radiance of God’s love and grace, breathe in the powerful goodness of the Holy Spirit and place your footsteps firmly on the path of Jesus

Follow the light — it’s our only hope. But also? It is our sure and certain hope!

“God, make us bold enough to question tyranny, impassioned enough to submit   ourselves to good teachers, and discerning enough to know when it is our turn to lead.” – The Book of Common Prayer

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Diana Trautwein
Married to her college sweetheart for over 40 years, Diana is always wondering about things. She answers to Mom from their three adult kids and spouses and to Nana from their 8 grandkids, ranging in age from 3 to 22. For 17 years, after a mid-life call to ministry, she answered to Pastor Diana in two churches where she served as Associate Pastor. Since retiring at the end of 2010, she spends her time working as a spiritual director and writes on her blog, Just Wondering. For as long as she can remember, Jesus has been central to her story and the church an extension of her family. Not that either church or family is exactly perfect . . . but then, that’s what makes life interesting, right?
Diana Trautwein

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Diana Trautwein
  • With all this beautiful Truth to ponder this morning, Diana (thank you), the phrase that stood out to me and stays with me is “the powerful goodness of the Holy Spirit.” God is so many things, and I work to appreciate them all, but it’s pure mercy to know when I open my eyes to the Powerful Light “that can change me,” that it is also a Good Light.

    • pastordt

      YES! Thanks for these good words, Michele. AS ALWAYS!

  • Sandy Hay

    “Most of all, we are afraid that if these things happen, our image of God will be forever altered.” I think this is why so many have such small worlds. If our image of God is solid, then our world won’t rock or crumble when confronted with today’s news or our Muslim neighbors. Wonderful food for a Saturday morning Diana . 🙂

    • pastordt

      Thanks, Sandy. You are such a great encourager!

  • Pingback: “Open Your Eyes to the Light” — SheLoves, July 2017()

  • Courtney Beck

    Most of all, we are afraid that if these things happen, our image of God will be forever altered. The bottom line, if we’re really honest, is that we are terrified that our understanding of who God is and how God behaves and whom God loves will slip out of our ‘control.’ Preach on sister.

    • pastordt

      I’ll do my feeble/humble best, Courtney. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • Rea

    “God will not be contained…” Sometimes I think I just don’t sit with that idea enough. I wonder what it would be like to live each day as if God were really here, right now, in the life, breath, the air around me. Not just trapped inside a book that I somehow have to figure out, but real, vast, and beyond comprehension.

    • pastordt

      I don’t think any of sits with those words long enough — or often enough. It is so easy to cut God down to our size, isn’t it? Thanks for reading and joining the conversation, Rea.

  • Lynn Morrissey

    I really appreciate the transparency of this post, Diana, allowing Jesus’ light to shine straight through. Jesus came to save sinners (of whom I am chief), and He lived among them, making friends w/ them, pointing them to Who He is. He was compassionate and understanding, and told them to sin no more. But I have been so guilty of exhibiting fear toward others, which has precluded my involvement in so many others’ lives. My daughter has done much to help me in this department, like when we welcomed her Muslim friend on a number of occasions into our home. I had to put my fear aside, and I’m so glad I did. While we would not agree with him religiously or theologically, we love him relationally. He is a delightful young man, and I”ve learned so much from him. And especially because our daughter is his friend, he has welcomed hearing about our her faith and belief in Jesus. I could name other examples in my life, and God has really been dealing with me a lot about fear of so many stripes. Being fearful is no way to live as a Christian. When I’m fearful, I lack faith. And it was this statement of yours which arrested me in my tracks: “The root of lethargy is often fear.” I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I couldn’t see the connection, but I have really realized a ton of sloth in my life of late, and just yesterday, I asked God the cause. And then your statement! An answer? I think so, at least in part (I don’t know if I fully know what you personally mean by that statement. 🙂 ) But for me, I realized when I am lazy, I am not pursuing God’s will for my life. And why am I not? Fear of failure maybe? Fear of hard work? Likely both. So thank you for a statement that I can hold up to God’ light, and ask Him how He wants it applied to my life. Wonderful piece with something personal for me to chew on! Thank you!
    Love
    Lynn

    • pastordt

      Right on target, Lynn. I think fear of failure is a huge contributing factor to lethargy. I wanted to use the whole quote because it sets the highlighted sentence in context and that was a direction I could have gone in with this piece — fear of failure. But I really wanted us to focus on our fear of the different, the unknown, the stuff that’s been handed down to us, almost in our genetic structure. The racism, zenophobia, homophobia — all of that awful stuff that keeps us from really seeing others as PEOPLE not labels. For it is in seeing them as human beings, created in the image of God, that we are forced to release the crippling and separating fears that drive so much of the action and rhetoric in the current cultural climate. If those of us who follow Jesus cannot do it differently, then why are we here? You’ve given us a perfect illustration of stepping into our fear and moving toward another instead of wallowing in it and holding back. Thanks so much for that, Lynn.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        Thank you for your kind words, Diana. And you my: I wish you would develop your other train of thought here, as well, for us to digest. But first things first, huh? 🙂

        • pastordt

          Maybe some day . . .

  • Amen, and amen again, Diana!
    May we all keep our eyes open and focused on God’s light, praying for it to permeate to our very core, and influence the way we treat others – the way Jesus would.
    Blessings!

    • pastordt

      Thanks, Martha.

  • Justine Hwang

    I’m realizing that the journey of Life is all about coming out of the Shadows of our fears and into the glorious, uncomfortable, too bright but good Light of Jesus. He defies all our boxing him in. And that is a very good thing.

    • pastordt

      Oh, good! If you are pondering, then I’ve done what I’m supposed to do. I love your thoughts thus far, Justine. We all tend to surround ourselves with voices that echo our own. It’s tough to wade through what feels like vitriol to us from the ‘other side,’ but I think it’s worth the journey, especially if we can release that fear that so often binds us. Thanks so much for stepping into this conversation!

  • This is so on point I almost said “Halleujah!” out loud while reading.

    • pastordt

      So glad this resonated with you, Beth.

  • Saskia Wishart

    Oh gosh. This is powerful and awakening and truth-filled. Thank you. Thank you.

    • pastordt

      You are welcome, Saskia — thanks for reading it.