Open Our Eyes, Lord, as We Peer Into the Darkness
We’ve all been there. Peering into our future, our options look bleak. None of the possible outcomes we can see from here looks more desirable than any other. We can see no bright alternative; no way to “win.” The skies seem to be darkening, and it looks like they will keep getting darker before they lighten, if they ever do.
A lot of American Christians are feeling this way about our collective future right now. We’re really worrying about our kids and grandkids.
So we turn a weary ear to try and hear what Jesus and His apostles would say — what they did say — and somehow find a bright spot amid the clouds to draw us out of the depression we feel.
It reminds me of a man who once sat in a dark prison cell and saw little hope. Things looked bad. For all his efforts to build God’s kingdom, evil and corrupt power still seemed to be winning. He was despondent. He was on the verge of questioning the core things that he had always been sure of, things he was convinced that he knew. Doubt was growing. He decided to get a message to Jesus, something like: “Jesus, what’s going on? Are You really the Messiah?”
I could tell his story from verses in the Bible, but instead, I’ll use the lyrics of a very bright and catchy song that I have listened to hundreds of times. It was written by Keith Lancaster and is called “Go Tell John.” (You can view the video at the end of this article.)
It begins with the prisoner sending his friends to Jesus asking for a word of certainty:
As he sat there in that prison cell, he knew just how it came about,
And he knew his life was over and he was never coming out.
There was just one thing he had to know, he had to make a final plea,
So he sent his friends to ask the Lord if He was who He claimed to be.
They find Jesus and Jesus sends this answer back:
“Go tell John,
That the Lame have learned to walk,
That the poor can hear the word of God
And the deaf can hear me talk”
“Go tell John,
That the blind can finally see,
O and blessed is the man
Who doesn’t fall away because of me.”
The story is about John the Baptist, who had preached repentance to an entire nation; who had heard all the stories of the miraculous birth of his cousin Jesus — as well as the miracles surrounding his own birth; who had heard God speak as he baptized Jesus, saying, “This is my beloved Son.” (Matthew 3:13-17)
Normally John had amazing vision. He could see God’s plan in action. He was even in Herod’s prison for telling the king and his family that he was acting immorally and that his marriage to his brother’s wife was against God’s law. What John could clearly see, he spoke with full conviction, no matter what others thought or did.
But he began to doubt in that dark dungeon. So he sent his followers to ask Jesus just to make sure of things. (Matthew 11:2-3)
Jesus’ answer was aimed at opening John’s eyes and refreshing his memory: “Go tell John. The lame walk, the blind see, the poor have the gospel preached to them…” Blessed is the person who can hang on and not fall away because of Jesus.
As John heard these words and peered into the gathering darkness, it must have become very clear. The Messiah, the Son of God, was overcoming all types of evil in the world. God was on the march and demonic fortresses were falling.
So it is with us. God’s kingdom is on the march. He is in every current event, every election, every disaster, every decision of our courts or our rulers, every soul brought into the kingdom of God. Whether events are righteous or unrighteous, God’s plan is in full swing.
We need to open our eyes wide. Paul prayed for the Ephesian church, soon to face horrific persecution, “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-21)
Elisha prayed as he and his servant faced an Assyrian army sent to hunt and kill them that God would open the servant’s eyes so that he could see. Suddenly the young man saw the armies of God, angels on horses and in fiery chariots, on the horizon at the tops of the mountains around them. Ironically, Elisha and his servant survived, and the army was blinded. (1 Kings 6:11-19)
God did not choose to spare John’s earthly life in Herod’s prison. He may or may not choose to spare us, or to turn us back to the days of relative ease the American church has experienced for so long.
But whatever His plan, He wants our eyes to be wide open. We can see that all around us blind people are beginning to see and to praise God, that lame families and even lame nations are learning to walk with God’s help, that those deaf to reason are starting to hear and respond to the voice of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
And we who are the walking, the seeing, the hearing, the enriched can praise God every morning for the new mercies He brings to us individually and collectively as His bride — the church.
The song, Go Tell John, by Keith Lancaster.