Last night, Yan Hadley spoke on the subject of boldness and the things that blind us and spoil our vision of God.

Hebrews 10:22 urges us to ‘draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.’ The confidence of our relationship with God is determined by the clarity of our revelation of God. When we see the presence of God in our lives, we gain confidence. Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing. He had clarity of revelation which enabled Him to endure the horror of the cross (Hebrews 12:1-2). We need to share the psalmist’s confidence that ‘I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.’ (Ps 27:13)

The Bible assures us that God is with us (see Is 43:2, Matt 18: 20, Hebrews 13:5, Ps 46:1). Our problem is sometimes a failure to recognise God’s presence with us. God is always with us. 2 Kings 6 reminds that we need our eyes opening to see God, rather than the problems which surround.

Problems which blind us
1. A critical and judgmental spirit

In 2 Samuel 6:12 onwards, we read of the return of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. David is overcome with joy and danced before God with all His might, for the symbol of God’s presence was returning. He was filled with excitement and jubilation at this, but his wife (Michal) was critical of David because she had no revelation of what God’s presence meant. She despised David in her heart, for she could not see the significance of what was happening. Her attitude blinded her to the reality of the presence of God.

Similarly, the Pharisees often failed to perceive God with them in the form of Jesus. They had religion but no revelation (see Luke 19:28-40, Matthew 23:16-26). Jesus condemned them as blind.

2. Fear and the storms of life
Worry, fear and anxiety often overshadow us and shrink our faith, causing us to lose focus. In Matt 24:22-27, we see the disciples afraid in the storm – so afraid they fail to recognise Jesus walking on water to them. The magnificence of past revelation (they had just witnessed the feeding of the five thousand) was diminished by the magnitutde of their present problem. So often, we allow the present circumstances to rob us of our spiritual memories. Fear grips us like a vice. In these circumstances, we need to ‘magnify the Lord’ (Ps 34:3) in order to see how big God really is – far bigger than the circumstances and than our fears!

3. Heartbreak and emotional turmoil

Mary’s heartbreak at the death of Jesus meant that she failed to recognise Jesus, even when He was standing next to her (John 20:11-16). Feelings often dictate our faith, but we need to let our faith determine our feelings. Psalm 42 encourages us to speak faith into our feelings. When ‘heartbreak hits like a hurricane’ (Kutless), we need to draw on the grace and help God provides. Tragedy can either turn us away from God or draw us closer to Him. His grace is always available to us.

4. Disappointment and disillusionment
When we feel disappointed and let down, we can easily feel devastated and lose our vision of God. Luke 24:13-32 looks at the disappointment of two disciples on the road to Emmaus. All their hopes had been pinned on Jesus, but His death left them confused and disillusioned. All their hopes were shattered and they did not recognise Jesus even as He walked beside them. Prov 13:12 reminds us that ‘hope deferred makes the heart sick.’ The disciples were speaking about Jesus in the past tense but needed to understand that He is that ‘ever-present help’ we need. Prov 3:5-6 reminds us not to lean on our own understanding in times of disappointment, but to trust God’s ways.

5. Unbelief and low expectations

In John 21:4-6, Jesus is cooking breakfast for His disciples on the shore while they are struggling to fish. Even after the Resurrection, they still have difficulty recognising Jesus at times. Sometimes we just don’t expect God to intervene in our situations or have low expectations of His involvement in our daily lives. We need to be careful not to let unbelief blind us (see Mk 16:14, Heb 3:19). Instead, we need to understand that if we will believe, we will see the glory of God. (John 11:40) Our unbelief and low expectations must be confessed and repented of so that we, the righteous, can be bold as a lion (Prov 28:1).