On Needing Reading Glasses (And How It Makes Me Think of Drawing Near to God)

"I see that you are forty-one," he said, looking down at my paperwork.

We were sitting in the small exam room where I just had my first experience with an eye exam more thorough than the one given by the Department of Motor Vehicles. I scheduled this exam after noticing that I tended to pull things like my phone or the recipe card further away from me in order to read it.

"This is normal for people your age," he continued. "The lens begins to stiffen around age forty."

I truly had not felt a downside to forty-one until just then.

"Fortunately your eyes are the same, so you can get by with over the counter readers for now."

I used to want glasses. When we spent the summer in the States before my senior year in high school, I bought a pair of fake glasses at a department store thinking they might be fashionable in America. I only wore those fake glasses to school once. It felt silly.

I thought girls who had glasses looked smart. I earned very good grades in school, but a couple girls in my dorm, my closest friends, sometimes called me an airhead or a dumb blond. Not really one to be confrontational, I laughed. I tried to play it off like it didn't bother me. But I never thought it was very funny.

Since I'm often mistaken for younger than I am, I admit that when I entered the workforce it occurred to me that I might be taken more seriously if I wore glasses. People with glasses automatically look authoritative. Picture the librarian: she says "shhh" with such authority.

Now I need real glasses. Well, reader glasses. And I don't feel smart or authoritative with them. I feel silly again, except this time they aren't fake and I really do need them.

It's an adjustment to wear readers. Constantly putting them on, taking them off, pulling them down, pushing them up.

I looked up from my book to talk to my daughter and pulled the glasses down on my nose so that I could see her while she talked.

"Mom!" she said too emphatically. "Don't do that! You look like a grandma!"

I don't always have my readers when I need them. Should I wear them like sunglasses, on top of my head? A perpetual optical headband, just in case? Should I have multiple pairs of readers, one stowed in each place I might need to read?


This morning I sat down to read my devotional before the rest of the house was up. Oh, I felt so tired! I was having such a hard time concentrating on the text. Such a hard time focusing on the words in front of me. Unable to concentrate, I wanted to just close my eyes and go back to sleep. And many mornings the last few weeks, that's just what I did.

But this morning it occurred to me: I'm reading without my readers! So I got up and dug them out of my purse. It seemed like a minor miracle to me, the difference in my experience. Not just my sight, but my whole body. As soon as I could see the words clearly, my body actually felt different. Instead of feeling tired, I was suddenly awake, alert, and ready to process information.


My experience with these glasses helping me to see better has made me think about how I experience God.

Sometimes I feel close to God and can see evidence of His hand all around me. I feel peace and hope. Other times I can't see God as clearly. Then I feel disconnected from Him, tired and discouraged. During those times He seems so far away.

There is a verse in James that I have felt conflicted about. "Draw near to God," it says, "and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8)

Initially I think, yes, I need to draw near to God. And during those times when I feel far away from Him, that's exactly what I need to do. I can draw near to God by reading His Word. I can meditate on His promises. I can find Him all around me in His creation if I really look for Him. When I offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving or when I choose to sing songs of praise, I experience God's presence.

But I read that verse, and I also think, wait! God will draw near to me? Isn't He with me always? 

Even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)

Didn't He say, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)?" 

Wasn't Paul convinced that "neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)?"


And now I think about my experience of putting my new glasses on.

The bible was right there in my hands each morning that I tried to read it. Yet I couldn't quite concentrate and I felt tired and uninspired. The life-giving message was there, I just couldn't see it well enough to receive it. I tried to. I squinted and I held my bible out at an arm's length. But in the end, I just didn't get the message because my focus was wrong.

The words didn't become clearer when I put on my glasses, my vision became better so that I could see the words more clearly.

I think that might be how it is with drawing near to God, and Him drawing near to us. God is already near to us. That's a promise. But when our focus is bad, we don't experience Him very well. He might feel distant to us even though He is right there before us, behind us, like a hem around us. In fact, there is no where we can go to escape Him. (Psalm 139)

Maybe drawing near to God so that He draws near to me looks like me putting on my spiritual reader glasses so that I can experience what is already there. So that I can go from disconnect to connection. From misunderstanding to comprehension.

From far to near.


I love David's prayer in Psalm 139. I think looks a lot like asking God to fix our failing vision. When I pray it, it's like putting on my spiritual readers and drawing near to God.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24"


Jane Ko said...

As I read this, the thought that comes to mind is, "Whoa. The next Beth moore." But then when i think about it more, I need to correct that thought and say that you are the next "Anne Bickle." Your writing blesses me. I truly believe that God is using your honest experiences to bless others. Disconnect definitely is and can be related to a wrong focus. It was a good read and pushed me forward to reflect in areas where I have a wrong focus. I think my problem is I need to take my shades, blinders, and readers off to see clearly. These "tools" get in the way of the simplicity of Christ. Thank you! :)

Anne Bickle said...

I'm humbled that you would even compare me to Beth. I know myself too well to make that comparison! :) But I appreciate your kindness, sweet friend.

Yes, it's true. Sometimes getting right focus involves putting something on, and sometimes it involves taking something off. I'm glad you were able to use my thoughts here to push you on to further reflection.


Paula Jennings said...

Great post! I have also had that experience with readers. I am still only wearing 1.25 at 54 but think that I have arrived at the point where I need regular glasses. I am over due for a visit to the opthamologist. And yes, it surely correlates to how we treat God and seek him (or not draw Him close).

Anne Bickle said...

Thanks, Paula!

Lucy said...

Thanks Anne, I needed to read this.Even though I wear glasses I don't always have my eyes on Him..but I am glad He is always there.

Jan Winnes said...

As I've been focusing on Immanuel, God with us, this post gives that reality new light. So hard to see God with us sometimes, but sharpening the spiritual vision to see Him makes the difference. Lots to think about here, Anne. Thanks.

BTW, tell my granddaughter that looking like a grandma is a good thing! :)


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