Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Have you had an eye exam lately? It’s one of the regular checkups we need to have as we reach ‘senior’ status. And I’m not talking about senior moments. I’ve been having those ever since I turned fifty. Eye exams are necessary, especially if the exit signs on the interstate are getting a little fuzzy. The conversation goes something like this. Wife to husband: “Why didn’t you take that road that we always take?” Husband to wife: “I will when we come to it.” Wife to husband: “We came to it about three miles back down the road!”

I’ve never really enjoyed an eye exam. First, they have you look in this big black machine with a small light and see if you can read some really small letters. It goes something like this. Lady in the white coat: “Read line 10 for me, please.” Me to the lady in the white coat: “I don’t see but four lines.”

And why don’t they have real words on those lines? They ask you to read something that looks like it’s straight from the Greek language – like G-B-D-R-Q-M. I’d have perfect 20-20 vision if I saw words like ‘c-o-r-n-b-r-e-a-d,’ or maybe ‘f-r-i-e-d  a-p-p-l-e  p-i-e-s!’  

Side road, please. I’m riding down the road the other day on my way to the eye doctor. I saw a small, hand-painted sign by the side of the road. I don’t mean one of those monster-looking, double-decker, lit-up-at-night, message-changing billboards. I think those things cause heart attacks, anyway. People with eyesight like mine are squinting and trying to read ‘em when the pickup in front of us slams on his brakes! He probably couldn’t read it, either, and wanted a second look.

But that little sign I saw about a foot off the ground said ‘homemade fried pies today.’  For the next 500 yards, I’m trying to find a place to turn around! Did it really say homemade fried pies? I must be seeing things. I really do need to get my eyes checked. But sure enough, after the traffic jam I caused cleared up, there it was. Hallelujah! Double blessing. Nothing wrong with my eyesight and a bag of fried apple pies to go.

Back to the eye doctor. After I couldn’t make out those strange looking letters on line 8 or 9, white coat said, “Follow me to the next room. We need to dilate your eyes.” There was a red ‘E-X-I-T’ sign right over her shoulder and I had absolutely no trouble at all reading it! Have you ever had your eyes dilated? Against my better judgment, I follow white coat into a dark room and she squirts battery acid in both my eyes.

Fifteen minutes later she comes back and says ‘The doctor will see you now. Follow me.’ I resist the urge to ask her where the seeing eye dog is. The doctor comes in and shines a billion-watt laser beam into both eyes, read this, read that, which line is clearer, what color is that, etc. etc. etc. And then he says, “Just like I thought.” Then he leaves the room.

I’m thinking he’s gone to get white coat and ask her how this blind guy got to the office. Now he’s back and says ‘It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.” Oh, boy, look out, here it comes. I’ll be blind before I get home. But he explains, “Your eyesight has actually improved since your last checkup. You’re not nearly as nearsighted as you were.” Thank you, Lord, for those candied carrots!

So I head for the car and my bag of fried apple pies. At the check-out desk, white coat says ‘you may need your shades when you get outside.’ Fine, no problem. I’m happy. No new bifocals or trifocals. I can handle the shades. Then I stepped outside. Immediate blindness! The brightest light I had ever been exposed to. I stacked up two pairs of ‘flippies’ on top of my glasses. And I still couldn’t stand the brightness. I had to put my hands over my eyes. Two kids in the car beside me thought I was playing peek-a-boo, and they started covering their eyes, too.

As the battery acid wore off, I thought, this must be a small example of what it will be like to stand in the presence of our Lord in heaven. And then I remembered Daddy’s woodshed words back home at Route 4. When one of us boys would make a dumb mistake, and he wanted to point out the error of our ways, he’d say, “Boy, you can’t see the woods for the trees. If you can’t see that, you need to have your eyes checked!”

Good ol’ Peter, an apostle of Jesus, had his eyesight checked and wrote these instructions (2 Peter 1:4-11) to help us avoid being nearsighted and spiritually blind in the corruption of the world. To have that 20-20 vision and be able to see God’s ‘very great and precious promises, there are some things we need to see. First, Peter says, add goodness to your faith. Then knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love.

And then Peter adds the finishing touch to his prescription (v.8). We can’t just put on these ‘new glasses’ and then sit and soak. He uses the words ‘increasing measure’  to keep us from being blinded by the world and risk missing the rich welcome (v.11) in the Heavenly Light.

The Route 4 translation of that means we are to be green and growing, not ripe and dying.