It turns out, this desire for glasses runs in the family. In fact, when my mom was in fourth grade, she wanted glasses, too. So much so that she failed her sight test at school on purpose. She thought she was totally and successfully pulling a fast one on everyone and couldn’t wait to have her very own pair glasses. However, you can’t fake your way through an actual eye exam performed by actual eye doctors, so she ended up having to wait until she was in her 40s for her first pair.
I never had the guts to fake-fail a sight test, but I finally made an appointment with an eye doctor several years ago. It was part of this wellness program I was completing, and I really didn’t think my eye exam would lead to anything in the glasses department. This was just one more box to check off for the program. But, you can imagine my absolute delight when my exam revealed I have astigmatism!
Even better, the eye doctor said it wasn’t too severe, so I really only needed to wear glasses while driving at night and while working on a computer. My dream sort of came true!
The most interesting part of all of this though, was the actual eye exam. I’d obviously never had one before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought my vision was pretty good, and I guess in the grand scheme of things it is, but I didn’t realize how much clarity the correct lens would provide. As they used the machine to switch between my natural vision and the picture provided through the lens, I kind of wanted to wear glasses all the time. I could see things the way they were supposed to be seen - clear, crisp, whole.
In the same way, sometimes I find that I long for a different lens in life. A change in perspective, a better vantage point, a clearer understanding. My outlook often feels blurry, blotchy, or even blocked all together. And I’m not quite sure how to develop a clearer, more accurate picture.
In Luke 19:1-10, we read about someone whose literal view of Jesus was blocked. In this passage, the story zooms in on Zacchaeus, a wealthy chief tax collector in Jericho. Jesus was in town and Zacchaeus wanted to see who he was. But because he was on the shorter side (or as the children’s song describes, “wee”) the crowd blocked his ability to see Jesus. So, he decided to climb up a nearby tree to catch a glimpse. And when Jesus walked by, he stopped and called out to Zacchaeus, telling him to come down from the tree so Jesus could join him at his home.
This interaction leads to Zacchaeus turning from the way of greed, fraud, and selfishness toward generosity, honesty, and selflessness. Jesus saw him and he saw a clear picture of Jesus and it changed him for the better. His encounter with Jesus enabled him to see things a bit more like God does.
I can’t tell you how many times that has been my prayer. God, help me to see this situation the way you do. God, help me to see this difficult person or the one who has let me down through your eyes. God, help me to see myself the way you do. Because when we see the world and each person in it through the lens of God, it changes things. It changes us.
But how does that happen? How do we develop a “God lens” if you will? I think the key is proximity.
I was reminded of this recently while listening to an episode of another podcast. I am a huge fan of the show The Office. It is my go-to and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching it. Because of that, I also tune in somewhat regularly to the Office Ladies Podcast, hosted by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, two actors from the show. Each podcast episode revisits an episode from the TV show, and they point out behind-the-scenes info and also bring in some fun guests from the show.
I was recently listening to Episode 36 of the podcast, where they revisited the last episode of Season 2, and they brought the director of the episode, Ken Kwapis, in as a guest. Even before they began their interview with him, I could tell he was a beloved director by how highly they spoke of him. Now, I’m not going to share everything they talked about in case you also tune into that podcast, but there was one particular piece of behind-the-scenes info that stuck with me.
The hosts were talking with Ken about things that set him apart as a director. And one of those things was where he chose to be while the cameras were rolling. I obviously don’t spend a ton of time (or any time) on the sets of TV shows, but apparently most directors sit in a separate room with monitors so they can see what the camera is capturing from afar, seeing how it will be viewed on TV. However, Ken always chose to be in the room with the actors, literally right by the main camera. And his reasoning for this was what got me. He wanted to make sure he was seeing things the way the camera did. And if he wasn’t near the camera, well, he felt disconnected, like he was missing something, like he wasn’t getting the most out of the shot.
The three of them talked about the huge difference this made, both in his ability as a director and the scenes he shot, but also in his connection with everyone on set. And while I know it’s a stretch, it helped me remember this: If I want to see things the way God does, I have a better chance of doing so when I am close to God. When God is near.
Now obviously we will never be able to see the whole picture in the same way God does; our human perspectives are limited. But when I look at the story of Zacchaeus, his outlook and life changed while Jesus was near. And when I think back on the times in my own life when my perspective seemed to be most in sync with God’s, the common denominator was that God was close. Seeking God’s Kingdom and drawing near to God were at the top of the to-do list. Investing in my faith and living it out were priorities.
I don’t know about you, but I want to see things the way God does. I want to be close enough to view things through a lens that
Sees the potential in broken things.
That is confident in the end of the story.
That values and uplifts the last, the least, and the lost.
That lets go of shame and embraces forgiveness.
That strives for humility and sacrifice.
That looks for opportunities to serve, rather than opportunities to be served.
That focuses on the call to love as God first loved us.
Today, if your vision is blurry, remember, God offers a better view. May we seek to move in closer to that lens, in hopes that we will learn to see things the way God does.