My prayers do not always accomplish this. This probably has to do with my odd perception that if God heard my prayer He would answer it in the way I think it should be answered. Otherwise, how do I know He heard? How do I know He even exists?
But this is depending on things that can be seen. It is not faith. Life as a Christian involves faith: the evidence of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Like the fleece, faith must not be attempted foolishly. Faith is not something which can manipulate. Faith is a response to the truth. If God did not say it, then I cannot have faith in it. How do I know He said it? By reading His Word. That is the only way I can know. In spite of the fact that I sometimes hear Him speak to me, I cannot have faith only in this subjective experience. If it was Him speaking, then what was said will be confirmed by His written Word. If it is not, then the speaker was not Him, and my placement of faith in what was said puts me in a very precarious position. At the least, it can result in sore disappointment. At the most, it is what cults are made of.
Faith which is in truth will result in something happening. This is called works. Faith without works is not faith. It is paying lip service to faith. I have faith that God exists. This faith works because the things in a book which is His written Word--the set of ideas which explain His mind--were written over a period of thousands of years and have proved to be true. I have the advantage of being able to know that there are also nonreligious records of many of the events recorded in theBible. In this way I am not just believing that any old thing happened. The Bible gives an account of certain historical events with applications for today. Other portions of the Bible use literary forms to communicate. If I read with this knowledge, I can sort through what I am reading and gain an understanding of its truth.
There are some statements in the Bible which cause problems. I alluded to these in my first entries in this journal. To understand their truth, I have to understand how they fit into the broader perspective. God promises to give sight to the blind. This particular promise always accompanies other promises, namely the promise of freedom from slavery. To understand these promises as they are meant to be understood, I need to realize that they are metaphors. Without believing in and applying God's truth to my life, I am left to find my own path through this life. I will do things which harm myself or others whether I intended this or not. I am alienated from my Creator by my ignorance. This state is called sin. There is no way out of it without understanding God's truth. I am in a virtual prison, and I am wandering about in the virtual dark--just as I would be doing physically if it were not for the efforts of others to orient me to the environment and explain which route I need to take to get to a certain place. My mishaps--my sins--cause pain to my Creator. To follow His instructions frees me from the virtual prison and sets me on a path toward Him. That set of instructions is called the Law.
The problem with laws is that there are two sides to them. There is the letter of the law, and there is the spirit of the law. Anyone who has tackled the issue of civil rights will be the first to explain this. Attitudes cannot be legislated, but attitude is the very thing which results in the right actions. The letter of the law can be followed at a minimum standard. It can also be twisted to justify actions or lack of actions which are not in line with the spirit of the law. The spirit of the spiritual Law is to draw us closer to God. The letter is to make us perfect--and the letter is often the focus rather than the spirit. People use it to condemn and place division between one another. This is totally against the spirit of the law.
God solved this problem by providing a sacrifice on our behalf--Jesus. If the point of the law was to make us pure and thus bring us into virtual freedom and light, there needed to be a way to accomplish this which could not result in legalism and judgmentalism--just another kind of imprisonment. So God placed the essence of His being in a human form--Jesus--and walked among us, eventually dying a spiritually sacrificial death, spending a time in the place of separation from God which we call hell, and finally passing through earth in a physical resurrection from death and returning to heaven. While he was here on earth, Jesus went about living according to the spirit of the law. If I believe in him and accept his death as proof of his love for God's creation, then I can also accept his life as a model of the way to God. Reading about his life and teachings, I begin to understand the spirit of the law.
God is the Creator of all things. His soul purpose is to draw His creation close to Himself, to express His love and to be loved in return. I cannot recognize the expressions of His love if I am separated from Him by sin. Therefore, the paramount concern in the Bible is bringing us, the created, close to the Creator--bringing us out of our prison and darkness and into His light. This is the truth which lies behind those promises. The healings which Jesus performed were performed out of compassion, but more importantly they were performed to provide an opening for the understanding of a metaphor or, sometimes, to demonstrate that Jesus had authority to say certain things. Physical imperfection is not a barrier to a full spiritual life. This earth is no longer the vehicle for the expression of God's love. It is tainted by sin and the effects of sin. It is no longer a safe place where God is welcome and appreciated. That place is called heaven--God's home--and I get there by being accepted on the basis of my demonstration of love for Him. I keep myself out by acting as if I don't care to be there, demonstrating that I prefer to wander around in the dark of the prison of separation from Him.
When my life is focused on this one goal, all other things become less important. I have to admit that I have a long way to go before I reach that level of commitment. Commitment to following Christ's example is an ongoing thing. It's not a one- time action which results in an automatic change of my behavior. It is a one-time decision which results in an ongoing effort on my part. If I decided to follow a person to a destination, that decision would require me to get up and walk with him. Otherwise, I would lose site of him and find myself wandering about aimlessly, not knowing how to get to the destination. Reaching my spiritual destination is no different. Jesus is "the way". His life guides people into God's presence by serving as a model. If I don't get familiar with his life and put the lessons it teaches into practice, then I am merely paying lip service to my commitment--and that won't get me to my destination.
So my answer to the weekend's struggles is that I will choose to act on a commitment I made a long time ago, to take some more steps in God's direction. Whether He continues to allow me to possess the gift of physical sight to any degree or whether I must wait until I am rid of the limitations of my earthly body, I will experience the expression of His love which is the natural result of getting close to Him!
I spoke yesterday of the concept of spiritual warfare. There are certain things involved in fighting a spiritual battle. I do not yet understand them all, but I know that certain things are required and that in this writing I have come to a deeper understanding of some of those things:
1. The helmet of salvation: I now understand more fully what salvation is and how it applies to me, and I understand that it is to be the focus of my life.
2. The belt of truth and the sword of the Spirit: I now understand that the truth is something which can free and that it can only be understood by understanding the principles God laid out in the Bible.
3. The shield of faith: I now have a better understanding of what faith is and what it is not. This is a very freeing thing for me. I no longer need to struggle with why God is not healing me or whether or not He loves me.
I've discovered that part of my problem is not vision loss at all. Last week I was very sensitive to anything which was bright. It's kind of like waking up after being in a quiet room for a very long time. Sound is magnified. It seems louder than it actually is. This is how it was with my vision. Now that my eye has been awake more, I've gotten used to things, and that brightness is not so bright. I am finding that I am in fact seeing things and somewhat able to get around. It is just that the appearance is different from what it was a week ago. So I cannot call it vision loss. It is still not even close to the way I remember things looking, but I must remember that it will take several months for things to settle down.