What follows is a conversation I imagined I might have with Paul in heaven, following a little editorial comment he made during Pastor Sam’s prayer at church last night.
There are at least four significant theological issues embedded in here. More than one isn’t entirely settled in my own mind and will probably generate questions I’m not prepared to answer! Maybe someday I’ll tackle those issues.
For now, an imaginary conversation between my son and me, in heaven:
“I like to see.”
“I like that you can see now, son. And I really like that you can talk to me and we can worship together.”
He nodded. “Was your sight like this before you came to be here with Jesus?”
“No.” I paused to think of the right words. “It was nothing like this. Physically, I needed glasses because they wouldn’t focus on things far away. My eyes would get tired after a day of work or difficult reading.”
“That’s funny,” he replied, obviously amused about something I said.
“What’s funny about it?”
“Here we can go forever without getting tired, Dad. I went from not being able to see because I didn’t have any eyes to being able to see perfectly. My eyesight has never been anything but perfect – either perfectly incapable of seeing and now perfectly capable.”
“True. But being tired wasn’t the worst thing,” I replied. “My mind took in what my eyes saw and frequently turned my heart away from Jesus.”
Paul’s face betrayed his astonishment. “That’s horrible!”
“Yes, it was,” I replied. “Especially knowing what I did from his word. Experiencing this extraordinary reality now, it was beyond horrible. God is very merciful.”
“And people actually felt sorry for me that I couldn’t see?”
“And they felt badly for me because my mind didn’t work exactly like theirs?”
“Oh, my, yes.”
“Yet your mind would turn from Jesus, just by what your eyes took in?”
He smiled again. “How foolish everyone was to feel sorry for me. My mind didn’t have the capacity to turn away from God like that. What a grace! And I never once worried about my next meal or if I was loved or where I would live. Not once. Just like here.”
“And,” I reminded him, “God used you to call me to him. I’m very glad for that!”
“There were some very sweet and funny moments raising you,” I said. “Like the time we took a chance and brought you into the Saturday evening service with us. Pastor Sam was praying and just as he said, ‘let all the world keep silent before you,’ you said, ‘do you want to go home?’ loud enough for several rows of people to hear you!”
“Was he upset, or anyone else?”
“No. I don’t think he even heard you. And even if he had, God had made him very tender toward you.”
Paul looked at me seriously. “You didn’t realize what was happening in that moment, did you, dad?”
I had to admit, I did not.
“Dad, you rightly saw that there were times the Holy Spirit was working in me. You remember those times when, out of the blue, I would just start to sing about God? Or I would laugh with pure joy when nothing and nobody was around me? That was God being very close to me. And that night in church I wasn’t talking about going to our house on Buford Avenue; I was talking about going home to be with Jesus. God was very close to me that night.”
He chuckled to himself. “And you all felt sorry for me. What a strange and awful existence you had, Dad. What a terrible thing not to be born blind for the glory of God.”