It’s a famous hymn, it’s origins dating back to Ireland some 1500 years ago. Believed to have been written by an Irish poet, St Dalian who had lost his sight and his lost vision inspired the opening line – “Be thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart.”
But does this hymn, this prayer have an application to us today? What does it actually for God to be our eyes?
It simply means that we would see the world as God sees it. That we would take on God’s perspective when we look at our life.
That means taking the facts – that health report, that financial situation, the facts of that relationship and adding God into the equation. It means magnifying God over all our circumstances. It also means looking at others like God would look at them – with love, with compassion and focusing on who they’re called to be not where they are now. It means looking at our life, our world with an eternal perspective.
Rick Joyner once wrote “when we begin with the eyes of our hearts instead of just our natural eyes we not only being to see the things which are eternal but they become more real to us than the things which are temporary.”
The hymn is a prayer––a prayer that Christ will be our vision. That He would also be the wisdom in our lives, our best thought. That His presence would light our days.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:
Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
Standing at my kitchen bench, I love the vista from the window onto a corner of my garden. I love watching the birds feeding on the bread I’ve thrown them. It’s a pretty sight, and gives me cause to pause and enjoy. You might have something similar – a favourite corner of the garden or maybe you look out at mountains, the sea, or views across the city.
Actual views aside, we also all have outlooks on life. And yes, forgive me for quoting the rather obvious “is the glass half full or half empty” description of viewing life. But there is a lot to be said for our attitude towards life. We need to hold to the perspective of Heaven for our lives. We need to respond to life like Heaven responds.
Setting our minds on things above is thinking about what God would be thinking about the events in our lives. Vision is what we see, but it is also the way in which we see. Vision is the lens that interprets the events of our life, our outlook on life. Vision is what keeps us looking forward, not back and certainly not down.
Whenever I’m finding it tough going and I’m tempted to focus on the negative in my life – whether it be the length of the lawn in my garden (!) or work pressures, or the seemingly endless list of things to do, I like to look up. And by that I mean to Heaven – to God, not to the birds in the trees! I look up to God, to ask for His perspective on life. And by looking up I gain hope, strength, and vision for my day and for my life.
My favourite Psalm says it best….
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore. (Psalm 121)
Things to children are never what they are to us. They see the world differently. That’s certainly the case with my boys. Driving along the waterfront, to my 6 year old, it’s not Rangitoto Island we’re viewing, it’s Tracy Island, home to the Thunderbirds. It’s not just a plain cardboard box, it’s a briefcase for a super hero costume to be stored in, just in case. And it’s not just the packaging to Dad’s Superman Mug, it’s a house for Lego Superman! What I think is rubbish or junk is often squirrelled away in their rooms as treasure.
Michelangelo was the same. He saw art in the rocks that he then sculpted. He said “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
It’s all a matter of perspective, of looking a little further and deeper. It’s the same with us. We often see only our limitations, weaknesses, failings and faults. We can decide we’re nothing special. But God sees more. He see what we don’t. God knows what hidden treasure and potential He has placed in us. And it is to that treasure and potential that He focuses on and encourages us into.
When people saw a mere Shepherd Boy in David, God saw a King. Joseph was a prisoner but God saw the Leader. To most, Peter was just a common fisherman, however, God saw the rock upon which He would build His Church.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
In the world of Tablet advertising, all announcing a plethora of new features and technology that I can barely keep up with, from retina display to thinner bezels, one company has the sleek slogan that I could identify with (and actually remember!) – “vision redefined”. Of course said slogan was then backed up by all the techno terminology, but I liked the simplicity of the statement – Vision Redefined.
Vision is such a critical part of life. A lesson I well learnt today as I watched my boys in their school cross-country. I got to cheer each of them in their race. Then, blessed with other family members at the same school, I was also able to cheer my nephews on as well. From my vantage point, I shouted my encouragement to one nephew as he lined up to start. I waved and yelled his name to show my support. Louder each time, waiting for his acknowledgement of me, to no avail. Was he embarrassed? Surely not! Then I realised – to my horror – that the said focus of my attention was actually not my nephew. It wasn’t even his race!
Next time, I had better wear my glasses!
Our perspective very much impacts our destiny and direction in life. As Anais Nin wrote “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” The way we see our lives, shapes our lives. Our perspective becomes the determining factor in how we spend our time, our money, how we handle our circumstances.
On becoming a Christian we all have the opportunity to have our vision redefined. To be able to see life in the light of eternity. To be able to see life from God’s perspective. The eternal needs to take preference over the temporal. C S Lewis once said, “all that is not eternal is eternally useless”
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
You have to love 3D Movies. It means a whole theatre of people wearing ridicously ugly glasses. But by putting the 3D glasses on it means you get to see a dimension of the movie that you couldn’t see otherwise. The screen comes to life and it feels like the action is going on all around you. The glasses give you a clarity to what would otherwise be a somewhat blurry movie.
It’s the same in life – through God we have access to invisible 3D glasses. We have the ability to have a Heavenly perspective over our circumstances. We are not confined to our condition when we understand our position in Christ. We are able to be above our circumstances. We need to see from God’s perspective, from being seated in Heavenly places. To look on the situation with the right perspective – the God perspective.
I love roses, and at my first home I planted a whole lot of them. I nurtured them and enjoyed the roses that bloomed. And then in the winter on the advice of gardening books (and my Father!) I diligently pruned them. And having been told to prune hard I did. I then spent the next month absolutely convinced that I had killed them through my savage pruning. They looked dead. No growth, nothing. Dead.
But you see I was not (am not) an experienced or even really an amateur gardener and I did not realise that they were still alive. These roses weren’t dead. They were just out of season. There was life in them, but just not visible life to me. And so I am glad that I hesitated (procrastinated really!) in then digging them up and waited out the winter. For sure enough signs of life did appear, they did grow and bud and produce more roses.
Don’t give up on a dream just because it looks dead. There’s another season coming. It might be right around the corner – it could be tomorrow. A good break at the office, a good report from the doctor, your strength coming back, the phone call you’ve been waiting for – it could all be just around the corner.
We WALK BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT. If we walk by sight alone we pull up the roses. But a trained eye can see the life, knows that there is life. It may look like your dream is dead, it may look like you’ll never receive healing or get out of debt, but you need to put on your “Faith Glasses” and see the Heavenly dimension where all things are possible.
I am not moved by what I see, I am moved by what I know. There’s a new season that is coming.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
I woke this morning to find our house shrouded in fog. In a fog, driving becomes more difficult as visibility drops to only a few feet in front of the car. We drive slower and more carefully, trying to distinguish the road in front of us. Yet all that has changed is the atmosphere around us. The road hasn’t changed. All that is compromised is our vision. As the fog clears we can see that the road was still there in front of us. We just had to focus harder and pay attention more to where we are going.
Sometimes it can feel that God has disappeared – that He is far off and we can no longer see Him. It is like we are surrounded by fog, only to discover that He was there all the time – our vision was just impaired.
Corrie Ten Boom wrote this – “Faith is like radar that sees through the fog – the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.”
Next time you’re in a fog remember to drive carefully. But if you’re in a spiritual fog – hang in there. The fog will lift and you will see that God was there the whole time, unchanged – still good, still for you!