(Excerpt from my message shared on 7/20/14 at NewSong Vineyard Church)
We all know, when we are born, we are born into sin. We simply are not able to see clearly as God wants us to – to be able to see the world, ourselves, and others through a lens of truth. Instead, we are born wearing a veil causing blurred vision, a blurred perspective with the obvious and primary distortion being sin.
But, along the way, as we make mistakes, have triumphs, get hurt, and experience life with other flawed and sinful human beings, more veils get added to our vision, creating more layers between how we see things and how God wants us to see things. Examples of these veils might be life tragedies, such as abuse, neglect, divorce, death, or failures. Other veils might be feelings, such as bitterness, resentment, anger, blame, shame, or guilt. Maybe you connect to one or more of these words. I know I certainly do.
Leading up to the Uganda trip, I continued to face some of the same challenges over and over again, leading to frustration over my inability to change. As some of you know, but most of you may not know, Matt and I have had our share of personal and relational challenges in the 4 years we have been married. Our relationship started off quite rocky in large part due to my required re-location to Harrison, quitting my job, selling my home and leaving my family and 37 years of friendships behind to start a new life with Matt.
One may assume this would be an exciting, honeymoon-like period. But all I felt was anger, bitterness, and resentment toward my husband. These negative feelings began to take root and before I knew it, I put them on each morning and wore them as one would wear clothes. They were veils – distorting my vision, my perspective, and my outlook to where I lived, who I was living with and even of the loving kindness of God. “If God cares, why would I feel this way for so long?,” I asked myself. Maybe you ask questions like that to.
At the end of 2013, the women’s group I lead each Sunday morning completed a 3- week period of prayer. Instead of starting the year with resolutions, we prayed for God to give us a word; a word He had for each of us pertaining to our lives, our Christian walk, our growth, giving us a divine-focus for 2014. And my word was “miracle.” This word came across my path in such a way I knew God was giving me this word for 2014. Then, January was awful and February was worse, when it came to Matt and I. Exasperated, I screamed, “Where is this miracle God??”
Soon, I began to realize, my wanting and hoping for a miracle was a nice start, but miracles are often found only on paths of true brokenness and surrender. Miracles are not experienced through positive thinking but through real change. And change is not easy, and it hurts. It requires a clearer vision only found when we release our veils we so easily hold onto – veils that become so familiar we are not sure what living is like without them. Those veils needed to be gone, and I realized I was utterly powerless to do it.
In Uganda, as one day led to the next, I experienced a shift – a shift not initiated by my own efforts. I began to look at Matt and see him for who he is, instead of who I envisioned him to be. I vividly remember one evening, looking at him, and not feeling guarded or critical anymore. A haze lifted, and I could actually see. The next morning, I found myself clothed in different feelings – hope and peace. Those old veils began to lift, and through the fabric of bitterness I once wore, I was beginning to see my miracle – freedom and restoration.
Jesus does not want us living with veils that separate us from Him. When He came and died on the cross, it tells us in Matthew 27, that “51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” The things of the temple were shadows of things to come, and they all ultimately point us to Jesus Christ. He was the veil to the Holy of Holies, and through His death the faithful now have free access to God. Jesus Christ, through His death, removed the barriers between God and man, and now we may approach Him with confidence and boldness (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Wearing veils shields us from living in truth. Jesus came to rid us of the lies that impact our vision and be the one and only pathway towards real freedom. Isn’t this what maturing in Christ or becoming more Christ-like requires? Asking, surrendering to and allowing Jesus to take away these veils that hold us back and keep us in bondage?
I love this picture taken in Uganda. To me, it contrasts my veiled vision with God’s clear vision. My veils, your veils, cause us to see the world, ourselves, and those around us like we see the boys behind the dirty panes of glass – unclearly, inaccurately, causing us to strain to make any sense of the image behind the window. But when I see that sweet face, sticking out through the window, I envision how God really wants us to see – clearly, truthfully, and honestly.
Friends, God is faithful. He is our pathway to freedom. As you allow Him to tear down your veils, you may just see your own miracle peeking through.
II Corinthians 3: 12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away.14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Hebrews 10: 19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
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