Ever since that snake incident many years ago, when I was out for a walk outside of my village in Mae Hong Son, I’ve tried to be very aware of my surroundings. As a deep thinker, I easily get absorbed in my thoughts and I’m not as aware of what’s around me as I should be. My husband jokes that I am not a keen observer, which I vehemently deny, of course! But, all joking aside, I have made a point of watching where I’m walking (I can’t tell you how many trails of biting ants have I accidentally walked through!), what may have come up through the drain in the shower in the bathroom (that story’s for another day) and keeping my eyes open for whatever else may be around.
It’s easy to fall into a navel-gazing perspective when you experience hardship, no matter your context. Whether it’s visa challenges, discoveries of ant nests in your washing machine, interpersonal problems at work or with your neighbours, or sickness in your family – even terminal sickness – there’s value in keeping your eyes open for a shift in perspective. Is Satan out to discourage you? Maybe. Is it your own sin that contributed to the trial? Possibly. Is the Lord at work in all circumstances? Most definitely.
Keeping your eyes open means being aware of what is going on around you physically, but also spiritually. It means to take notice of circumstances the Lord allows you to experience, and to rely on Him to help you persevere. It means to trust that there’s a bigger narrative at play than what is simply in front of you.
In 2 Kings 6:8-19, Elisha and his servant found themselves surrounded in Dothan by horses, chariots and a great army from Syria. This took place as a result of the King of Syria having learned that Elisha, the prophet in Israel, was informing the King of Israel of classified intel – “the words that you speak in your bedroom” (verse 12, ESV).
What is significant in this passage is that there are several narratives going on simultaneously. We read of what is typically seen to man’s eye (the servant’s perspective) but we also get a glimpse of something else. Someone else’s narrative. God’s narrative.
Elisha could peer into that narrative and knew God’s army was there to fight for them and protect them (verses 16 and 17). It wasn’t until Elisha prayed and asked God to show the servant what was really there that the servant could see this spiritual army. But, it had been there all along.
What narrative am I listening to regularly? Do I ask God to show me, tell me, reveal to me His narrative? Do I really and truly believe that there is another narrative?
Keeping my eyes open means to not just be aware of my surroundings – what I may step on or into – but to believe wholeheartedly that the Lord is not only present but that He is defending me in ways that I will never be able to fully comprehend. It means faith in the midst of darkness, hope in the midst of confusion, and joy in the midst of suffering.
What do you need to believe about the Lord’s presence in your life? Which narrative do you need to put aside so you can take up God’s?