about good plans & God glasses

I was seven. We were on a family road trip from Texas to Oregon. I pointed out the window and asked my parents, “Are those horses or cows?” Everyone thought I was kidding, and finally they told me, “Rebecca, those are hay bales.” So we figured out maybe I needed glasses, and the confusion among horses, cows, and hay bales became a running family joke.

I had glasses until seventh grade when contacts became an option. My eyesight is bad and has gotten worse over the years. I have a slight astigmatism, too much that normal contacts cause me problems but not enough that astigmatic contacts will do me any good. But I can’t stand to wear my glasses most days. Call me crazy, but having peripheral vision is something I value.

I remember gym class in elementary and having to take my glasses off, probably to play dodge ball or some other masochistic game they made us play. People looked like trees walking around, faceless and ominous. I knew what they should look like, but for some reason, at that moment, all I could see were trees.

We’d take class field trips to Palo Duro Canyon. If you’re not from around here, basically it’s like the Grand Canyon’s runt sister. I’d look over the edge down at the canyon, and I was terrified my glasses would fall off. I envisioned them crashing down on the rocks and busting into pieces as they tumbled. Looking back, I’m certain my glasses were high quality enough to have remained on my face, but at the time I kept holding them on lest they fall. Most of the pairs I had were thick plastic, wine red versions of Urkel glasses. Someone should have told me they weren’t cool, but I liked them and they got the job done for a while.

This past year my main prayer has been to maintain focus. Through spiritual attacks and human attacks and self-destructive attacks, I prayed to keep God’s perspective. I know that no matter what happens, if I can just keep seeing things the way God sees them, I’ll make it through. If I could just keep my God glasses from falling off my face and crashing down on the jagged rocks in the canyon looming before me, I’ll make it through.

But here’s the catch: when I was a kid, my glasses didn’t fall off my face. And God’s glasses? Way higher quality than wine red Urkel glasses. They don’t just slip off. The only time my glasses came off was when I took them off, usually to shower or sleep. And God’s glasses are the same way: they come off when (and only when) we take them off. We stop seeing things through God’s perspective when we stop seeking his perspective. And we get those Glasses (capital G for lack of confusion and redundancy) through a regular quiet time with God.

The funny thing about glasses is they’re eventually going to be taken off. And the further you get away from them when they’re off, the harder it is to find them again. At least, if your eyesight is as bad as mine, it is. I’ve accidentally knocked them off my nightstand before and had to crawl around, feeling my way for them, under the nightstand, under the bed, into the trash can, somehow across the floor. God’s the same way. The further we get away from him, sometimes the harder it is to get back to him. We get so used to feeling our way around, stumbling through each day, trusting our own senses and feelings, expecting to come across something to help us see. And it doesn’t work that way. When I start to get too lax in my quiet time, my perspective suffers as well. That’s when I know it’s time to fall on my face before God. Literally. I spend a significant amount of time on my face worshiping him. Not complaining about things that may be wrong in my life or praying for help or interceding for others. Worshiping him for who he is. Period. And almost like magic, I put on his Glasses and things begin to become clearer.

Sometimes we take off our Glasses when we think we don’t need them anymore, or when we don’t want to see what we know is there. One of my friends on Facebook posted a status about wearing her contacts while showering one day and realizing how dirty the shower was. I relate completely. Usually I shower in the mornings before I’ve put in my contacts, but on the rare days when the contacts come first, I’m suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to start cleaning things. Funny how that works. The dirty in my life is there all along, but if I don’t have my glasses on or contacts in, I can pretend it’s not there. That’s the problem with the Glasses. We know there’s dirt in our life, but we don’t want to see it. Once we put on the Glasses and trust God’s perspective, we also have to acknowledge the dirt or soap scum in our own lives that we’ve allowed to accumulate for way too long. And man, how that sucks. But if we trust God to show us what needs to be cleaned, we allow him to work in our lives the way he wants to. Or maybe we take off the Glasses because we don’t like what we see. The major thing God has shown me this year, the one idea he’s now pushed me to write an entire book about, is this: God’s good plan doesn’t always feel very good. But God is always good. When you read in Scripture about God’s good plan for salvation, you think it sounds fantastic. Then you realize the entire plan involved the excruciating suffering of an innocent being, and suddenly it doesn’t sound very good anymore. It’s so easy for us to celebrate Christmas as the wonderful birth of our Savior and yet completely overlook the fact that his sole purpose on this earth was to suffer and die. And no, I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. I’m just saying sometimes we get so caught up with the beautiful parts of God’s plans that we refuse to accept the ugly parts. We refuse to believe something so ugly could be so good. But it was, and it is.

Lately there’s been a lot of disappointment in my life, and a lot of very hard decisions. And every time I spent significant time alone with God, listening to him, focusing solely on his perspective. That perspective led me to make decisions that hurt me deeply, decisions that hurt others deeply as well. But I am completely, 100% convinced they were the right decisions because they were made while wearing Glasses. I was looking down into huge canyons, clinging tightly to God’s perspective, lest it fall away from me.

That’s not to say I don’t lose focus, because I do. Daily. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be human. I’m still learning, but every time I get even a momentary glimpse through God’s Glasses, I’m reassured that his plan is good, always good. No matter how it feels, it’s good, and I can trust in that.

Merry Christmas, and I pray for God’s Glasses to be the one thing you seek most this holiday.