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We Need Spiritual Vision To See Reality Correctly

Buying things on Amazon can be tricky. Sometimes, something may look exactly like what you want when you saw it online; however, it’s not what you thought it was when you finally received it. For instance, one time, I thought I was buying some socks made by Nike, but the ones I received had a funny-looking swoosh that made me think otherwise.

I bring this up to emphasize the importance of seeing things correctly. Specifically, we need to see reality correctly to live in it well and experience the deep, joy-filled relationship with God that we are meant for.

To see reality in this way, we need spiritual vision.

What is Spiritual Vision? It is a proper understanding of the reality that we live in and can be defined by 3 elements:

  1. Knowing that there is a spiritual world alongside the physical world.
  2. Viewing life as a parable through which we grow in wisdom and understanding.
  3. Judging everything by God’s standards, not society’s standards.

 

While spiritual vision does not necessarily mean seeing with your eyeballs, it means seeing reality as God sees it with your intellect. We could call this wisdom, as that is a definition of wisdom: seeing reality as God sees it. Still, it is a vision or way of seeing that one has, and it involves maintaining the understanding that the spiritual realm of our existence is just as, if not more important than, the physical realm.

With the first element of spiritual vision, which is the awareness of the spiritual and the physical, we see that understanding this allows us to see more deeply into reality with the awareness that more is taking place than what is physically experienced. Having spiritual vision is seeing reality as it truly is.

Seeing reality as it truly is includes understanding that you have a soul, angels surround you, and God is present to you at all times, whether you feel close to Him or not. Furthermore, you are not only keeping the existence of these in mind but also remembering that they interact. These interactions have a profound effect on you and your life.

The next part of having spiritual vision is viewing your life as a parable through which you grow in wisdom and understanding.

The Gospels’ parables of Jesus show us that there is a different way to view the world. Jesus uses everyday activities, events, and physical things to teach about spiritual realities. His stories of real life point to deeper spiritual understandings we can receive if we truly engage.

We are never truly alone in this endeavor, as the Holy Spirit guides us and gives us a supernatural vision we can use to discover more of God as we encounter Him in the natural world. The Holy Spirit enables us to see reality as a vehicle for carrying Gods teachings.

“”Everything is grace” are the notable words of St. Therese of Lisieux. This can be better understood as we unpack” what grace is. To truly understand grace, we must clearly distinguish between grace as Gods life and Gods help. The term used to clarify the grace that we call Gods life is sanctifying grace,” which is hand-delivered to us by God through the sacraments. The other type of grace, Gods help, is known as actual grace,” which leads us to God and eventually to receiving Him in sanctifying grace.

Anything that leads us to a better relationship with Him is actual grace. If we truly perceive the world around us correctly, if we look at our lives through a Godly lens, everything can lead us to this relationship with God, and therefore, what St. Therese says is true.

If everything is grace, then we are never without an opportunity to think of God and be reminded of His goodness in the world. Jesus illustrates this perfectly in His parables. His stories perfectly illustrate our message, exemplifying how we must view life and our experiences.

For instance, the parable of the sower is told in Matthew 13:1-23. This story is about planting seeds, in which Jesus expresses the difficult-to-grasp reality of what happens to people when they hear the life-giving truth of the Word of God. The analogies are profoundly rich as we see deeper into the experience of one who falls away to temptation, compared to birds stealing seeds from a path.

We are also told of the opposite reality: a seed that falls onto rich soil grows deep roots and bears tremendous fruit, which is a beautiful real-life illustration of one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold” (Mt 13:23).

In this and other parables, Jesus does more than teach us about spiritual realities. He is showing us that we can discover similar things on our own just by viewing the world around us. The rich analogies of life, the world around us, and even everyday human activities constantly point us to God. You just need to know how to view the world correctly to extract these treasures.

I have been amazed at the circumstances through which God has communicated to me His saving truths. For instance, while feeding our baby a bottle, I suddenly realized that God nourished me the same way I was doing for my son. It was then that I understood, especially during times of difficulty in my life, that God had nourished me and helped me grow more robust and mature. Then, I thought of how eating bitter vegetables, like Brussels sprouts and broccoli, does something similar to our physical lives. All these everyday occurrences pointed me to spiritual concepts and helped me grow closer to God, as I now better understand the beauty of going through hard times in life.

Our lives are parables. What we currently perceive as ordinary—friendly conversations, walking the dog, the ocean, the seasons of the year—can convey deeper meaning if we view them as signs of our spiritual lives. The meaning is there for our discovery, like precious gold found after digging underground and sifting through the dirt.

The third element of spiritual vision is to judge everything by God’s standards, not society’s.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7.

In this verse, we have a brief masterclass on how to view ourselves and the world around us. We should not judge things only based on what can be measured externally but also keep in mind that there are unobservable forces at work, and things are only sometimes how they seem.

For instance, in the passage from 1 Samuel above, the prophet Samuel visits Jesse and his family to anoint one of Jesses sons as the next king of Israel. Samuel does not yet know which son God has chosen but must have each one come before him and wait for God to show him the next king. Several of Jesses sons look like they would be amazing kings, but God has someone else in mind.

Eventually, Jesse brings his youngest, least kingly-looking son before Samuel. God makes it known to Samuel that David, out of all the sons of Jesse, who seemingly would have made much better kings, would be the newly anointed king. Why? God knew the hearts of each son. He saw what their physical features did not show and knew Davids heart was the best.

Sometimes, we can fall into the trap of measuring ourselves and others by the wrong metrics. We allow poorly chosen standards to crush us because we cannot live up to them or incorrectly think poorly of others when they do not meet them. Even without these false metrics, life is hard, and we must learn to judge ourselves and others better.

We need to judge with Jesus. We need His help viewing the world and ourselves to see things correctly and avoid making the wrong assumptions.

Jesus will guide our minds to discern our hearts and circumstances to ensure that we are right where we are meant to be in life. My favorite example to make this point is when Peter is called out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus.

Peter is standing on water with the God of the Universe before him, but the storm gets louder and steals his attention. Peter begins to focus on the storm, falls victim to his fear, and starts to sink into the water. He correctly calls out to the Lord, who saves him.

I wont pretend that I am above this chosen Apostle of the Lord or that I would have handled this situation any better, but I will use the story to learn from for my own life. In this story, Peter misjudges what is going on. He puts too much faith in his circumstances and not enough in his God, who has the power to save him.

Peter believed in the power of the storm more than in the power of Jesus. He judged his situation by the storm’s metrics, forgetting that he was in the presence of a God who commanded the winds and the seas, and they obeyed Him.

How many times have I done this? In my struggle with addiction, I looked at my life many times and mistakenly determined that I had no future. Furthermore, I, too, have looked at the day ahead of me in dread thinking that joy and peace were impossible for me. However, my eyes at these times were on the storms of my life and not on Jesus.

When we learn to judge accurately, as God judges, we can better receive the good things that God wants to give us. This is how David was able to look at the giant Goliath and see victory, this is how the woman in Mark 5, who suffered from hemorrhages for 12 years, looked at Jesus and saw healing, and this is how Jesus was able to look at the Cross and see Eternal Life.

When we develop our spiritual vision by 1) understanding that there is a spiritual world, 2) viewing life as a parable, and 3) learning to judge everything by God’s standards, we grow in our understanding of reality and are better able to live out the abundant life that God wants for all of His beloved children.

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