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Seeing with new eyes

By Mark Thompson
Special to The PREVIEW

Seeing with new eyes.

That is what I have been thinking about. I don’t mean Lasik surgery or colored contacts. I am using a figure of speech that means I need a new, insightful way of thinking about the events of my life. Ephesians 1:17-18 states, “that … the eyes of your understanding being enlightened …”

I’ll tell you what got me thinking about this. Last week, we had three guests at our house for the whole week from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, affectionately known as IHOP.

IHOP is this wacky place where about 2,000 people, mostly in their 20s, believe that prayer is the effective means to change our culture. They call themselves, “Intercessory Missionaries.” There has been prayer going in that center in Kansas City, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for 14 years. Let that soak in a moment.

This last week, IHOP had a week where a few hundred of their students went on spring outreach trips. These are trips where groups of students travel to communities across the United States to support other “Houses of Prayer,” and in general, be an encouragement to local churches across communities.

For whatever reason, nearly 50 of these young people came to Pagosa Springs. Maybe you saw them downtown or in City Market: cheerful, kind, polite 21-year-olds that looked like life couldn’t get any better. Three of these young people stayed in our home: Maddie, Hannah and Melanie. They were simply lovely young ladies, so positive, gracious and full of hope. I was wondering about their secret when it did occur to me they spend something like 36 hours per week praying. Hmm … coincidence?

At any rate, the team of students arrived late on a Saturday, well after dark. Their first glance at the beauty of Pagosa Springs was on Sunday morning. They came out of their bedrooms, looked out the window at the mountain range view, and went crazy. It doesn’t hurt that their home is Kansas City, and they originally hailed from places like Toronto, Canada or New Jersey. In a moment they were out on our dirt road with the mountains in the background, affecting poses of joy for future Facebook postings. They were ecstatic.

What went through my mind when I saw their joy? I need new eyes. We live in paradise, but I often forget how beautiful and astonishing it is to be here. I expanded the thought. This goodness in my life extends to much more than the view. I love my wife, I love my kids, I love my community, I love my church family, I love my job. I love …

Lately, we’ve had a new saying in my house. When something isn’t quite working out, say we don’t have enough Captain Crunch or a favorite T-shirt is not clean: first-world problems. We have traveled a little bit. We have seen, firsthand, orphanages in Kenya where the children are fed one meal a day. We have walked through the slums of Saragoza, Mexico, to see open sewers running in the streets in front of homes that are wired-together wooden pallets and cardboard. Those are real problems as opposed to the worst things we generally face (our first-world problems). The thing is, our eyes get dull. We forget the, “goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13

I am grateful to the Kansas City girls for reminding me of my blessings. I am also thankful they were stirring up in me a desire to spend more time in prayer. I cannot imagine a better thing to be awakened to. There is a great little vignette in scripture. Towards the end of the book of Luke, we see two fellows walking to this place called Emmaus. Suddenly, Jesus is walking with them, though they don’t recognize who he is. Apparently, Jesus gives them a lesson as they walk, expounding from the writings of Moses and the prophets, all the scriptures concerning himself (I bet that was an interesting talk). They get to their destination and these two guys convince Jesus to sit down and eat with them. Verse 30-31 of chapter 24: “As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened.”

Yep, that is what I need. To sit down with Jesus, break bread with Him, and have my eyes opened, to see with new eyes.

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This story was posted on June 6, 2013.