Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
A few years back I was frustrated by the fear and anger that taunted me. I wanted to be free from it. But, nothing I tried worked. I tried saying morning affirmations. I will be loving and kind today. I will put others need before my own. I tried exercising. I tried staying away from people. In desperation, I memorized the entire book of James.
I remember one day when I was about three-fourths through memorizing the book, I found myself yelling at my husband. As the intensity of my voice grew and my arms flailed, the words from the book of James ran through my mind. Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. I took a step back, defeated and powerless to change–to be the kind, confident person I wanted to be. I had tried everything I could think of. Nothing worked. I was empty, depleted and discouraged.
Shortly after that day, I attended a retreat. One of the takeaways was, “I can’t. God can. Help me, God.” There, in that place, when I stopped trying to do it on my own and acknowledged I need God’s help. I found freedom from my chains. As I read today’s verse I am again reminded that while I can change my actions, it is God who does the heart surgery. My brother-in-law, Duane Beach says it best, “I was living like a dead apple tree with construction paper apples glued on.”
“I was living like a dead tree with construction paper apples glued on.”
But, just like I couldn’t change on my own, I don’t sit back in my recliner and watch God do all the work. The first part of the verse asks God to open our eyes. The second part, “that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” means I have to open my Bible if I want to know what it says.
God is the engine, the catalyst for change, but I have to get in the car and turn the key. Psalms 119:24 talks about God’s Word being our counselor. His Word changes us, but it’s not a magic genie. It’s a two-way relationship. Now, when I read my Bible I ask God to open my mind so I can understand His Word. He does. I don’t know how he did in me what I was powerless to do in myself. But He did. Now, before you get too excited, I still get mad (ask my husband) and I get fearful. But far less than I used to. And when I do, I have tools to keep my footing on solid ground. I rarely feel like I’m slipping into an abyss anymore.
I don’t remember where I heard this, it may have been from Jamie at the retreat, the visual helps me understand our relationship with God. “You wake up ten minutes late and have to catch the bus. Pray and then run.”
“God will not show you the glory of the Grand Canyon if you insist on living in the Everglades.” John Piper
If you are where I’ve been, and you’re tired of taping construction paper apples to your tree, I’d encourage you to open your Bible today, the book of John is a great place to start or the Psalms. I am reading through Psalms 119. I love David’s honesty towards life and God. Wherever you start, pray and ask God to open your eyes so you will understand. Secondly, if you live in the area, I recommend the retreat I mentioned earlier.