Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

September 2, 2018


Seeing with the eyes of the heart


            “I Saw the Light” is my favorite of Hank Williams’ songs. It is a song about spiritual blindness. It may have been Hank’s personal testimony, the story of a blind man wandering aimlessly like a fool until Jesus came and restored his sight. But the story is universal for all of us are spiritually blind until God opens our eyes. Many of us can sing Hank’s song as our own because essentially the work of Jesus is to bring us from darkness into the light.

            In his Letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells his friends that he is praying that “the eyes of your heart will be enlightened.” That the heart has “eyes” is a beautiful thought. So we have eyes in our head but also eyes in our hearts. And it is Jesus who, by changing our hearts, enables us to see with the eyes of the heart.

The person who is saved can see with the eyes of the heart; the person who is lost is blind, spiritually blind. There is a beautiful verse in Proverbs (4:18-19) that explains it this way: "But the good man walks along in the ever brightening light of God's favor; the dawn gives way to morning splendor, while the evil man gropes and stumbles in the dark."

            Perhaps no one is more blind than the person who can see with the eyes of the head but has never “seen the light” with the eyes of the heart. So we have the sad reality that one may have 20/20 vision but is blind about how to live a meaningful life of service to others.

Take William Dyke for example. When he was ten years old, he was blinded in an accident. Despite his disability, William graduated from a university in England with high honors. While in school, he fell in love and became engaged to lovely young woman. Shortly before the wedding, William had eye surgery with the hope that the operation would restore his sight. If the surgery was not successful, he would remain blind for the rest of his life.

William insisted on keeping the bandages over his eyes until his wedding day. If the operation was successful, he wanted the first person he saw to be his new bride.

The wedding day arrived. Many guests filled the sanctuary. William, his father and the doctor who performed the surgery stood at the chancel. William’s eyes were still covered with bandages. As the organist played the wedding march, the bride slowly walked down the aisle to stand beside the groom. When she arrived at the altar, the surgeon cut the bandages from William's eyes.

The people waited breathlessly to find out if William could see his bride. Finally, the silence was broken as Williams’ words echoed through the church, "You are more beautiful than I ever imagined!"

That is a lovely story – but that is all it is, for there is no record of William ever doing anything significant with his restored eyesight. And that is because the eyes of his heart were still blind.

Contrast that story with the story of a man named Saul. He was a violent man. By his own admission he tried to destroy the church in the years following the resurrection of Jesus. His physical eyes were filled with rage as he went from house to house arresting Christians and throwing them in jail. On his way to Damascus to arrest even more Christians, Saul was brought to his knees by “a light from heaven” that blinded him. Now blind physically and spiritually, Saul was led into Damascus where a small group of Christians cared for him.

Saul remained blind for three days until Ananias arrived. Sent by the Lord to pray for Saul, Ananias laid his hands on Saul and began praying.  Something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes as Ananias prayed and his sight was restored. Saul did not say to Ananias, “You are more handsome than I ever imagined!” I am sure Saul must have embraced Ananias and thanked him for his prayer. But now the eyes of Saul’s head and the eyes of his heart were open – and Saul began to focus on what Jesus wanted him to do. Saul’s change was so dramatic that he received not only his sight but a new name – he was now Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles on a mission for God!

A song more popular than “I Saw the Light” is “Amazing Grace.” It is also a song about spiritual blindness. The hymn writer John Newton was not blind physically but he says in his song, “I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.” In his early years Newton was captain of a slave ship that transported slaves from England to America. Then he encountered Jesus who opened the eyes of his heart. He saw, like Hank Williams, what a fool he had been, and like Paul, decided to use his spiritual sight to honor Jesus Christ.

Eyesight is a great blessing that enables us to see adorable smile on a baby’s face, the beauty of a marvelous sunrise or sunset, the splendor of snowcapped mountains, or the sweet face of the faithful spouse who has loved you for decades, warts and all. But far greater is the blessing to see with the eyes of your heart what George Beverly Shea called “the wonder of wonders,” that God loves you! And not only does God love you, he has a wonderful plan for your life, a life to be lived not in darkness but in his marvelous light! + + +