St Paul by Bartolomeo Montagna
Last month I wrote imaginatively from the viewpoint of Saul of Tarsus during his blindness, before Ananias came to restore his sight. As I was meditating on this story, my mind went on to what we know about the rest of his life – in particular one aspect of it. We know that in the years to come, despite being healed of blindness, Paul had a continuing problem with his eyes and his sight. He failed to recognise the High Priest when he appeared before him (Acts 23. 1-5), he had to use a scribe to write his letters for him, such as Tertius who wrote down the epistle to the Romans (Romans 16. 22) and his own handwriting was abnormally large (Galatians 6.11). He wrote to the Galatians that it was because of an illness that he came and preached to them, and that if they could have done, they would have plucked out their own eyes to give to him (Galatians 4. 13-16).
It also struck me how often Paul uses the language of vision and sight in his epistles. In Romans he describes how God’s eternal qualities are clearly visible in the world around us. In 2 Corinthians he reminds us to fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen, and to walk by faith, not by sight. In 1 Corinthians 12 he uses the sense of sight to demonstrate that all of us are necessary in the Body of Christ – if the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? In the opening chapter of Ephesians he prays that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened”. But perhaps his most famous use of this language is in his great chapter on love, 1 Corinthians 13, in which he says, “For now we see as in a glass, darkly, but then, face to face.”
Could it be that in the dimness of his own sight he found a powerful metaphor? That though at present we see the One we love through a dim haze, like someone whose sight is failing, yet a time is coming soon when all myopia will be healed and we will see Him in perfect clarity, in His true splendour and majesty, and will recognise in the face of the supremely glorious King of Kings, the welcoming smile of a Friend and Lover. Paul had already glimpsed that sight on the road to Damascus and knew that his destiny was to bask in its glory for ever. No wonder he wrote so many more letters, overflowing as he was with the memory of that sight and the longing to share it with all who would listen and respond.
Ros Bayes has 7 published and 4 self-published books, as well as some 3 dozen magazine articles. She is the mother of 3 daughters, one of whom has multiple complex disabilities, and she currently works for Through the Roof (www.throughtheroof.org) as their Training Resources Developer, and loves getting paid to write about disability all day. You can find her blog at http://rosbunneywriting.wordpress.com and her author page at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ros-Bayes/e/B00JLRTNVA/. Follow her on Twitter: @rosbwriting.