“‘…Still other seed fell on good soil and produced a crop—a hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold….’” (Matthew 13: 8).
When I was a teenager, sitting in the back row of my year 9 maths class, I very unexpectedly discovered that I needed to wear eye-glasses. I had been trying to read what my teacher was writing on the blackboard and was struggling to see. In frustration and as a joke, I grabbed my friend’s glasses from her very face and slipped them over my eyes. Voila… suddenly I could see!
I am not the only one. One of my younger sisters only realised that she needed glasses when she applied for her driver’s license. She passed the knowledge test, and failed the eye test… And the rest – as they say – is history.
My second son has worn glasses since he was a very young child. One day – being concerned that his elder brother was sitting too close to the television, I booked both boys in for an eye-sight test. While his elder brother passed with flying colours (thank God), my middle child failed miserably. It was in that eye-test that we discovered that he actually had a “lazy” eye, where the brain fails to recognise the vision communicated from one of the eyes. This occurs because the eyeballs are different depths and being of different depths, the brain simply economises that uses the vision from the eye with better vision instead of interpreting the vision from both eyes simultaneously.
In other words, the poor little guy was completely blind in one eye, and we as his parents had never noticed.
But with hindsight, there were signs. After all, that child was very messy with all the drawing and writing that he used to do when I was teaching him how to write his name, and his alphabet and his numbers. And he was easily frustrated with any activity that involved sitting at a desk or doing any “school” work.
On the day that his new glasses arrived, my little boy put them on and went into the lounge room to play. I did not think anything of it and started working on dinner. Half an hour later, he came into the kitchen with a little paper in his hand. On it he had drawn a beautiful and NEAT picture and had written his name in the neatest handwriting I had ever seen.
“How marvellous that is my darling!” I exclaimed. “Yes Mum, it is so much easier to colour inside the lines when I can see them properly!” He responded.
Now, though my husband and I felt like we should receive the award for “Parents of the Year” for failing to see the problem, we were simply overjoyed that we had a solution to make our little boy was more comfortable. And because of this, we worked for many years with “patching” therapy to build vision in his “lazy” eye so that he would always be able to see clearly using both eyes.
But “patching” therapy is extremely uncomfortable. It involves covering the child’s “good” eye with a patch and forcing their brain to use their “lazy” eye to see instead. Now, at first patching the good eye means that the child is completely blind. The “lazy” eye sees nothing, and it is difficult to convince the child to wear the patch for the specified hours each day. But gradually, over time – in a process that takes many years – the brain starts to recognise the “lazy” eye and the eye starts to work enabling the child to use it to see…
The important thing about “patching” therapy, is that there is only a very limited time where it can work. After the child turns seven years old, their optic-neural pathways are established and the brain can no longer be convinced to use the “lazy” eye at all.
I have been thinking about this “patching” therapy and even the use of new glasses over the last few days. You see, my husband recently got some reading glasses – he has never worn glasses before. He put them on his face once for a moment, and then threw them off and declared… “I cannot wear those. They make me dizzy.”
I did not really say much in response to that, but quietly put the glasses in his work-van and left him alone. The other day, while I was in that van with him, he reached for his reading glasses so that he could see things more clearly when he needed to check something.
And this is exactly how it is with faith!
We have only a limited time to use our faith and though faith is a GIFT given to us freely from God – the gift of faith is NOT enough… God wants us to work on our faith and build it and share it too!
“‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. And as he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Some fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun rose, the seedlings were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the seedlings. Still other seed fell on good soil and produced a crop—a hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold….’” (Matthew 13:3-8).
And growing in faith and sharing our faith is not a comfortable thing. Just as the farmer requires effort to grow the seeds and scatter them properly, so too, do we require effort to share our faith – even in a world that ridicules us for it!
It is much the same as getting used to wearing reading glasses or participating in “patching” therapy… If you do not do anything or put anything into the task, you will get nothing out of it. Instead, if you continue to patch your eye or wear your glasses, things will become clearer to you. Perhaps they will not become clearer in an instant or a day, but they could over a period of time.
And this is faith and the action of faith… We need to put in effort and over time it will grow and spread, like scattered seeds – all over God’s marvellous world…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.