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Seeing With Your Souls

Somewhere along the way in more than 35 years of preaching I ran across the following, which may be a "preacher's story" — but it is a good one that makes an important point. In days gone by, there was a certain old recluse who lived deep in the mountains of Colorado. When he died, distant relatives came from the big city to collect his valuables. Upon arriving, all they saw was a plain shack of a house with a dilapidated outhouse beside it. Inside the shack, next to the rock fireplace, was an old cooking pot and the old miner's equipment. A cracked table with a three-legged chair stood guard by a tiny window, and kerosene lamp served as the centerpiece for the table. In a dark corner of the little room was a well-worn cot with a threadbare bedroll on it. The relatives picked up a few of the old relics and started to leave. As they were driving away, an old friend of the recluse, on his mule, flagged them down and asked, "Do you mind if I help myself to what's left.in my friend's cabin?" They told him, "Go right ahead." After all, they thought, what could possibly be inside that shack that was worth anything? They left and the old friend rode up to the house, got off his mule, and entered the shack. Once inside he strode directly over to the table, reached under it, and lifted one of the floor boards. He proceeded to remove a pile of bags containing all the gold his friend had collected over the past 53 years — enough to have built a palace. The old recluse died with only his friend knowing his true worth and wealth. As the friend looked out of the shack's one little window, he watched the cloud of dust behind the relatives as their car disappeared. With a slight smile on his face he said out loud to himself, "They should have gotten to know him better."

Whether the story is true or fictional, a powerful and important spiritual application can be drawn from it. In Ephesians 1:15-20 the apostle Paul prays a prayer that reminds us that God is rich, and that Christians can be rich, too — if they are careful to know God. In verses 17-20 Paul asks that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places." It's good to pray that the sick will get well, that the bereaved will be comforted, that the wars will soon end, that the economy will soon improve, that preachers will live and be useful to God for a long time, and that the elders will make wise decisions. But Paul's prayer expresses concerns that get way beyond the physical things that are the focus of many prayers heard in the modern church. His prayer is that Christians might know God better in order to understand more fully just how fabulous our spiritual riches in Jesus Christ really are. In effect, he prays that we might come to see with the eyes of the soul. Then, and only then, will we realize how immeasurable is our wealth and worth in Christ. Think about it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ