I’d opened my Bible study lesson but hadn’t silenced my phone yet. It dinged three times in rapid succession alerting me to incoming text messages, most likely of the group variety.
My curiosity piqued, I had to look. After all, I hadn’t officially settled into my quiet time. The glance confirmed my hunch. Daughter Jessie sent a photo to me and her older sister, Mary, with the comment, “Fun game! Let me know when you spot it.”
Mary replied without hesitation, “Cool!!!”
I stared at the up-close photo of a tree trunk, admiring the bark, but had to enlarge the image before I found the hidden critter and exclaimed, “That guy is super camouflaged!”
Jessie conceded, “I totally wouldn’t have seen the moth except he was sitting right below a trail blaze (blue rectangles painted around the trail so you can keep track of it) and I had looked up at the blaze just by chance.”
Our pleasant text conversation came to an end and I turned my attention back to the lesson before me, astounded to read, “Unless a power beyond us opens our eyes, we will blindly walk right past the infinite magnificence of God’s treasure. We take for granted the glorious truth in Christ: we are God’s beloved children.” (1)
Talk about an immediate spiritual application of Jessie’s trail blaze experience!
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesians, proclaims, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3).
Paul then goes on to recount those blessings. In Christ we are:
- Chosen by God before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him (vs. 4).
- Predestined for adoption to himself (vs. 5).
- Redeemed (vs. 7)
- Forgiven (vs. 7)
- Made recipients of the riches of God’s grace, lavished upon us (vs. 7-8)
- Given wisdom and insight to understand God’s plan of redemption (vs. 9-10)
- Made heirs (vs. 11-12)
- Sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, the guarantee of our inheritance (vs. 13-14)
Paul prays for the eyes of their hearts to be enlightened that they may know the hope to which they’ve been called, the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of His power toward those who believe – precisely the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (vs. 18-19a).
Fueled by that kind of power, you’d think we’d be better at living out the reality of all the blessings heaped upon us. But too often our spiritual sight is clouded by immediate demands, our ears filled with voices clamoring for our attention. The temporal hides the eternal as effectively as the moth’s disguise allowed it to blend into the bark.
Jesus frequently taught in parables, many of which had a connection to plants – sowing, reaping, seasons, soils. When his disciples asked why He used such stories, He replied, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given . . . Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.’ . . . But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” (Matthew 13:11, 14, 16)
Blessed indeed! Jesus came not just to restore sight and hearing to those physically blind and deaf, but to open our spiritual eyes and ears to His message and the evidence of His love all around us. And, when Jesus ascended to heaven, He didn’t leave us as orphans. The Father sent the promised Helper to be our trail blaze (John 14:16-17, 26).
Even so, we must be intentional about seeing and hearing.
Interludes spent in my garden allow me to be still in God’s presence, to deliberately look and listen. Time after time, Jesus’ parables come to life as I dig and prune, weed and water. I stroll my property in search of treasures I imagine God’s tucked lovingly here and there for me to find. Years of practicing these purposeful walks have honed my sight, enabling me to recognize even barely-there plants as they emerge from the soil. How much more should I seek to know the things of God, to perceive the guidance of His Spirit, and to hear His still, quiet voice by becoming intimately acquainted with the treasures found in His Word?
O Lord, how I thank you for lavishing your spiritual blessings upon your chosen ones and for enlightening the eyes of our hearts to understand the magnitude of those blessings. Please help us to be ever-attentive to the leading of your Spirit.
(1) Lisa Tarplee,”Hinged, Vitally Connected to Christ and His Church, Women’s Bible Study on Ephesians”, Week 2, CDM Discipleship Ministries, 2020, p. 31.