I have been thinking about the values of seen and unseen for quite a long time now, but in the last few weeks, the "seen and unseen" has come up in devotions, Bible studies, questions in our family, and other conversations so much!
2 Corinthians 4:18 says, "We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "We walk by faith and not by sight."
Hebrews 11:1, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things NOT seen."
Hebrews 11:6, "Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek Him."
Ultimately, we know the "UNSEEN" in these verses is truly talking about faith! Faith is when you believe in things you cannot see. Those things are a mystery, but you know them to be true. You must trust "blindly," know, and be convinced that it is right, even when you do not see it. Walking by faith is essential to the Christian faith.
In addition, I believe there are a lot of other ways the unseen is at work in our lives. As I have thought about this over the last few months, here are just a few of the examples I have thought about:
Swamped in school work and tasks he actually needs to get done, one of my boys asked me a few months ago when we were reading a book "just for fun" during our read-aloud time in the afternoons, "Why are we reading this book? What is the purpose of it?" You see, he knew the purpose of that Algebra quiz he submits for a grade, the purpose of the grammar and sentence diagraming lessons that he gets red marks on, the purpose of the science reading and tests, etc. Those are tangible lessons and grades that he can mark off and see what he is learning. He also knows he needs them in order to move forward in school. When we sit down and read aloud, my middle-schooler has not heard "Aunt JoDee's" special session on all the proven values of reading aloud to kids--like the close bond that is formed, the intellect, the ability to focus, the better grades, better language and writing abilities, and MORE! Those are some incredible unseen benefits we cannot measure or show for that time, but it is proven that reading aloud has so many unseen benefits. So, daily, I remember the "unseen" that reading aloud is producing in my children, and on an ideal day, we read aloud a few different times.
EXERCISE and WORKING OUT
I love to be productive and have something to show for my time, energy, and work. This little idol of mine tries to sneak itself into everything in my life. One of the ways it gets into exercise and working out for me is that I want to use my time well. During all of my 20s and half of my 30s, I jumped straight into a workout or a run, going fast and hard and ended on the same note. I was out from under any kind of coach's care like I had from high school making me warm up or stretch and cool down. Many fitness professionals--especially if you are doing a video do not warm you up or cool you down, and even worse, when they would do it, I often would just skip the warm up and turn the video off or walk away when the stretching started. I did not know the UNSEEN value of the slower things, the recovery days, the breathing, the stretching, and the rest days! These things have an "unseen" way about them--they are all SO powerful and when used well and rightly, the rest, the slow, the breathing, and such actually work to benefit you even more than the "seen" hard work and grit! I have learned to very rarely skip these things now. I have come to know these unseen benefits of strength, stronger core, rest, and recovery so much more!
In ministry, we are also tempted to look at the seen--the things we can measure--how many times did you share your faith? How many people are coming to your Bible study? How many people are coming to your worship service? Did someone come to Christ last week? There are so many ways we can measure and see the work and fruit of ministry, and those are VERY good things! But, there are two very powerful works that go unseen and remain a mystery--the power of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot see how those two very important elements of ministry work, but we KNOW that they do, and we have faith that they do! Faith in what we cannot see. So, may we honor the unseen work of praying and asking the Holy Spirit to work, all the while doing the seen work that we must do in obedience, knowing that the Lord honors both!
What are ways you could grow in FAITH right now in the unseen?
What are ways you see the unseen at work in your life?
Are there ways you need to focus more on the unseen than on the seen?