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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Trying on a new pair of glasses


Living Waters for the World’s Steve Young suggests paying attention when the Holy Spirit nudges us

July 7, 2023

Photo by Steve Young

I’ve been thinking lately about glasses. Not the drinking kind, more like the seeing kind. Yet not the ones we use to improve our vision, but those we wear that color our perception. What I’ve come to learn after taking 60 trips around the sun is that we all wear these kinds of glasses, no exceptions — well, maybe other than God — I imagine that God sees purely, no glasses required; we humans, not so much.

Yes, we all have at least one pair of these glasses — some of us have several different pairs lying around. We’ve picked them up throughout our lives, from parents and teachers, from our friends and churches. Sometimes, we choose glasses that inspire us, that make us feel joy. And sometimes, we had a pair of glasses we really loved, until someone or something came along and crushed them right in front of us. We are lost, trying to find a pair that fits, or hurt and angry and choose our next pair accordingly.

Glasses of perception are offered insistently from our favorite media outlets, preferred political party, and our card-carrying groups of affiliation. We don’t just strive to “sing from the same hymnbook” — we love to look through the same prescription of glasses. It feels good to flock together, to belong, to know that we’re right and therefore …

No wonder different kinds of folks can look at the same thing — an idea, issue or situation — yet see it quite differently. The “aha” moment for me came when I realized that glasses of perception have one glaring blind spot — I can easily see the glasses others are wearing and completely forget that I have on glasses at all. Just like God, I believe I am seeing purely.

In case you’re wondering if this is a proposition to learn to take off our glasses, it’s not, because we can’t. We’re human after all — wearing these kinds of glasses has always been part of the deal. However, here are a few things we can own:

  • We are wearing glasses! (If we get this one, everything else gets a whole lot easier.)
  • We choose the glasses we wear for a variety of reasons.
  • Others have equally valid reasons to them for the glasses they choose to wear.

And a few “gut-check” questions we can ask: Do my glasses …

  • leave me feeling positive or negative?
  • truly reflect who I am, or who I think I’m supposed to be?
  • cause me to welcome or reject?
  • help me live in hope or in fear?
  • see with love or with hate?

Steve Young

Recently while hiking, I took a picture. Initially, my glasses of perception told me that these are just weeds and they grow all over the place. Yet, something tugged at my heart and suddenly I saw beauty right in front of me, another of God’s perfect pieces of art to enjoy.

And maybe that’s the thing. We don’t have to choose our glasses alone, even if we think we must. We can ask for help. May the Holy Spirit nudge us all, overcoming our defenses, saying, “Here, give this pair a try.”

Steve Young is Executive Director of Living Waters for the World, a Synod of Living Waters global ministry that equips churches to partner with communities to provide sustainable clean water. 

Today’s Focus: Living Waters for the World

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Catherine Gordon, Representative for International Issues, Office of Public Witness, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Denise Govindarajan, IT Associate Director, IT Application Development, Administrative Services Group (A Corp)

Let us pray

O Lord, help us to see the light and gifts of others. Teach us as we teach your word and love. Place your strong hands upon us and lead us as we lead your children into a life of compassion and service. Amen.