Below are three stories regarding spiritual blindness by Sharon Dando. Sharon sits on Mission Council and has served in a number of different contexts including Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong and Macau.
Physical Sight…Spiritual Sight
A few months ago I got to accompany my Dad to unexpected and emergency eye surgery. His right eye for some time had only been able to distinguish light and dark. The almost non existent sight, pain and ongoing battle with infection sure makes you realise how much we take our sight for granted. A routine check up revealed even further deterioration and potential for the eye to perforate. He was rushed to Wellington hospital and became the incredibly grateful recipient of a cornea transplant.
Whilst he still has some sight limitations, one of my lasting memories is sitting at the dining room table with my dad less than 24 hours post surgery. I felt like I was witness to the blind regaining sight as he exclaimed, “I can see the cup sitting on the window sill…I can see my hand...I can see the medication bottle…”
My Dad was the very grateful recipient of a donor cornea. We will never know the circumstances of the person who lost their life and gifted their organs to improved life of others. We do however have the invitation and opportunity to get to know Jesus and the gift of life He has for us.
Restoration of sight to the physical eye is a miraculous thing, and restoration of spiritual sight a miracle of even greater magnitude, a miracle of eternal value!
Eyes but cannot see…
They have mouths, but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them. (Psalm 135: 16-18).
It’s interesting what memories stick in your mind. Walking along a Macau street teeming with people my eye was drawn to a small idol offering set up near the entrance to a high rise apartment block. A few sticks of incense and a small rice bowl of food. This in itself wasn’t particularly uncommon to see but a little more unusual was the offering had a name and address attached to it. Was it the name of the person who made the offering? Maybe it was the name of a deceased relative?
I couldn’t help reflect on the contrast between the offering being made needing a name tag on it in the hope the idol god will know who to bless or protect with our all present, all knowing, all seeing almighty God who knows the very number of hairs on our head. The idols many put their trust in in Macau might be made of silver and gold but our NZ and maybe more subtle idols (at least at first glance) are also ‘blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another they will both fall into a ditch.’ (Matthew 15:13)
Lord may the people of Macau and we in New Zealand truly know you as the light of the world who enables us to walk not in darkness but have the light that leads to life. (John 8:11-12)
Darkness to Light…
My neighbour on the 20th floor went through the tragedy of losing her mother. Struggling with cancer she saw only dark pain and suffering ahead. In despair and with no hope she sadly took her own life. The same week her mother died she too was diagnosed with exactly the same cancer as her mother. She was part of a small group that met in my home to practice English. On the day she shared about her cancer diagnosis her friends gave lots of advice about treatments and special diets. Trying hard to keep up with the Cantonese conversation I recall calling out to God ‘give me some words to say’ Then one of the group members turned to me and said ‘Sharon could pray for you.’ What an opportunity! We talked about our God who heals and gives eternal hope and peace. After my return to New Zealand she came for a visit with a sister and friend and told me more of the story… One day she found herself considering the option that her mother had taken but as she looked out across the Macau skyline noticed the illuminated cross of a church in the distance. That reminded her of a tract that she had been given on the street some weeks earlier and shoved unread into the side of her handbag. Pulling it out to read she noticed the address of a local church stamped on the back. In her need she made her way to the church and was welcomed and cared for and was introduced to Jesus. What a joy to hear how Jesus turned her darkness to light.