Alec Wright - What Do You See? - Harare, Zimbabwe Convention - 2006

Hymn 409

Once the Lord asked one of the prophets a very special question, and gave him a very special compliment.  The question was, “What do you see?”  When that prophet told the Lord what he saw, the Lord said to him, “You have well seen.”  If the Lord asked us today that same question, "What do you see?" it would be quite a thing.  It would cause us to look inside ourselves in self-examination.  What do we see when we look around at our brothers and sisters?

We think about the future and our circumstances but would the Lord tell us you have seen well?  That’s a very personal question whether I have well seen or have not seen well.  We sang in that hymn, “…when I see the moment nearing when I shall sleep beneath the sod…”  Do we see well the time coming when we will be sleeping in the dust of the earth?  Have we well seen?

I see the King in all His beauty when I’m alone with God and this is what David saw.  He beheld the beauty of the Lord and didn’t see the faults.  We are so prone to see only the side of life that isn’t pleasant.  Recently, I was visiting another country and trying to read the newspaper but couldn’t because I didn’t know the language.  Instead, I looked at the pictures and one picture was stunning and very beautiful to look at.  It was a full page picture of a mountain, just a rock jutting from the higher peaks of the mountain, and people were sitting on it. It looked like it was thousands and thousands of feet from the ground and there was nothing in between that rock and the little city or town below, and then the deep blue sea.  It was truly beautiful.  I thought to myself, "Well, I’m not here for sightseeing but I wouldn’t mind seeing this while I’m here. I am certainly going to ask if it’s possible to go and have a look at this while I am here because it’s so very special."  Then I continued looking, attempting to read where this beautiful spot was and discovered it was in South Africa and not in this country that I was visiting.  It was a picture of a mountain in the Cape, known as Table Mountain, and here I was born very near to it.  This set me to thinking, "You can multiply something a thousand times over, as we are closer to something that is more costly, extremely costly, than anything we see in this world, and one day we will say, 'WOW!'"  I am thinking to the time when I was so very close to this mountain and never saw it.

I think of you young people in this meeting and wonder if you are beginning to see the way of God and are beginning to understand, "This is the Way I should be in; this is the Way of God which leads to life and peace for all Eternity."  One day you are going to see this picture and think back to August 2006 and think that I was close by and never saw IT.  That newspaper picture was an advertisement for tourism, and I was so near to that place for many years of my life but never saw that particular spot or that particular scene.  I was close by yet I wasn’t there.  That might be happening to us during these days — we are close by but not really there.  I was at a convention when I was a young man, quite some time ago now, but I wasn’t in the work yet.  My hopes for that convention had been shattered there and I didn’t enjoy it one little bit.  I was misunderstood and filled with self-pity and unhappiness.  Other people expressed what a wonderful convention it was, the best they had ever attended, but I felt nothing.  You know why? I was close by yet saw nothing.  That is sad but it might be a reality for us today — we’re close by and see nothing because there’s something in our minds and hearts that hinder us from seeing.

Jeremiah 1, "I see the rod of an almond tree.”  He saw something that was living and the Lord said, "You have seen well."  I hope we can see this as something living and not dead.  It took the Lord a long time even after I professed to really see this way as His only way on the earth.  I had to come out from a time of doubt to really see it, and hopefully the Lord is able to say to me now, "You have well seen."  In Luke 16, we read of the rich man in eternity seeing something Lazarus had that he wanted so much but never seeing it in this world.  He understood now, "Lazarus was comforted and had water and he can give it to me."  Why didn’t he see it when he was at his gate?  I think again of that picture I saw in a foreign country, when I was far away from it, and I never saw that picture in the country where I was from.  Friends, I hope we realise we are aware of something that is close by and we can get it.  Don’t wait for it to be gone forever for we may never get it again.

To take that picture in Cape Town, I thought of the people that climbed over many rocks to get that particular view at the right angle.  If our angle is wrong when we look at a brother or sister and see only problems and the things they say and do, or should be saying or not saying, we don’t see them then as struggling souls for life and liberty.  If we’re unable to see that, then the Lord will say to us you are not seeing well.  Genesis 13:14 mentions Lot choosing selfishly after Abraham had given him a choice.  If you are a rich man you have great authority, but if a subordinate comes, you are still rich and increased in much goods.  Abraham was rich in cattle and gold and silver and here comes Lot, a family member.  Abraham said to Lot, "You choose," and Lot chose the part he wanted, a selfish choice.  It took a great deal of humility in Abraham to ask Lot to choose, "You take the left hand and I’ll take the right hand," because he had authority.  When Abraham was in the place of humility, he saw well and the Lord said to him, "Look to the north, to the south, the west, and the east — it’s all yours."  When we are in this condition, the Lord can show us what millions in this world will never see.  When proud eyes look upon a brother or sister, or the way of God, or on the future, or the past, they will see nothing that is worthwhile.  It can be done only with humble eyes and Abraham was humble.  "You choose," he said, and then the Lord came to him and showed him.  If the Lord said to Abraham after he had shown him, "What do you see?" he would answer, “The north, the south, the west and the east — all this belongs to me, to us, for YOU have given it to me and to my seed.”  Abraham saw something very beautiful and wonderful in this chapter.

One time, one of the workers went into an old age home in Cape Town for a little meeting; it wasn’t in the choicest spot for an old age home, because a cemetery was next door.  Imagine those aged citizens opening their windows each day and looking out onto a cemetery!  Anyhow, in that aged home, there was a little meeting and these old folk came together for it.  The worker who went there started the meeting by asking if someone had a choice of a hymn.  Yes someone did, and the hymn given out was, “Fair are the prospects all ahead.”  You know why that person chose that hymn?  It was because they saw well; they saw beyond, much further than that cemetery, and were able to see the prospects all ahead.

Sometimes I have taken the liberty of thinking of this human body of ours and what God does.  Can you improve it?  Is there a way you can improve the human body?  We know there are differences because God has made us so — some are more handsome than others, some are prettier than most, some are very fine, but the design of this body, just think of its functions!  If we were to ask a learned famous scientist if he knows of a better way to improve the human body and how it functions, he might say the eye could be put somewhere else, or the nose somewhere else, etc, etc.  Then we could go a step further and ask a very learned theologian if he could improve the body, the Way of Jesus, or how He came to bring to earth; could he improve the way to heaven, and he might say, "Yes, there are many improvements we’ve made and we’re practicing them."  But you and I know we can’t improve this human body.  We know God’s way is perfect and we are so glad for that.  If the Lord asks us, could He say we have well seen because this way is the perfect way?

In the last chapter of Acts, we read that Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all who came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.  If this was me and I had to write about it, I would write about all the adverse things.  Just imagine, here he had to face the king and face charges that he was not guilty of, an honourable servant of God, but the writer never referred to that — he only referred to the side that was positive.  Paul had his own hired house and no one was hindering him.  I was thinking of this country and would like to mention it, that I think we should give a lot of attention and consideration to the fact that we are very fortunate to have the liberty to meet together here today, for there are countries which have not this liberty.  We often visit various parts of the country and have liberty and are thankful to God, and I would like to have that attitude of the writer of the book of Acts, when he wrote this.  A hymn says, “Time bears us away.”

There was a time in Cape Town when I was close to the scene I saw in that advertisement, but now I was in another land for a time and time bears us away from the time when we have health and strength. We know we are not always going to have health and strength and possibilities and privileges forever.  Here we have friends who have had a Sunday morning meeting and privileges for a long time but time bears us away, and we cannot expect to always have these privileges as we now have.  That thought has been very real to me today for when God spoke to Abraham in that place where we are now, He said, "Look to the north etc. and how see good it is, see how good this experience with God is."  It’s very personal where you and I are now at the present time in our lives.  Help us to have humble eyes so the Lord can show us, This is My will for you from where you are now."

I still remember a time in my parents’ home when I was young. It was a Saturday morning and I heard my parents discussing some things about a particular couple living in Cape Town, 60 kilometers away.  This couple was not very hearty although they came to the meetings.  My parents had a 1935 model Nash, an old car, and the roads were not so good at that time or my father the best of drivers, but they went to visit this couple.  At the end of the day, those people were a happy couple and so glad that we had come.  It was a good day.  These days here, are we seeing well?  Are there things we could be doing, some privilege opening up, so we can see a little bit further?  Or are we just seeing our own environment?

When I came back from being abroad and went to convention, an old sister came up to me and said, "I don’t know, but this year I have thought a lot about you and have been praying much for you."  I thanked her and told her I valued those who pray for us, but something bothered me.  I went back to her a little later and said, "I don’t know who put it into your heart to pray but I think I know.  This year has been a crisis year for me, and it certainly was."  Who had put it in her heart?  Who made her see that there was someone far away who needed her prayers?  She had well seen; she had well seen the needs of the kingdom, and maybe I am here today partly because of that old lady.

There was an old man in David’s time who said he couldn’t hear anymore, "My taste and my taste buds are gone and I cannot taste anymore."  David asked him to come and sit at his table but he felt he could not go, so he asked his son to go instead.  This was a time when David was fleeing, being chased by his son and this old man went and took him beds and basins and food to eat.  That old man saw the possibilities, he saw them well. I hope for ourselves that we see well.

A visiting sister told us of her mother who used to sing that hymn, “I don’t know about tomorrow.”  She was on a home visit when her Mum died and she said to her sisters, "Perhaps we should sing that hymn at the funeral because Mum loved it so much," but her sister said, "No.  We’ll sing, 'Sweet is the rest that comes at last.'”  She asked her sister why and her sister said, “Because there is no tomorrow for Mum now; she is in the present and she has received this sweet rest.”

Jay Wicks was getting ready for a meeting once and was not getting anywhere.  He read here and there, and then he thought of a young couple who were avoiding him.  The more he tried to prepare for the meeting, the more he failed to get anything to put on the table for that convention.  Eventually he went to see that couple and spoke to them and there were tears shed.  He came back and took up his Bible and opened it to something he could speak about.  He saw it well; he saw a problem that needed to be fixed and he went and did it and there was blessing.  Jesus said. "Agree with your adversary quickly," and that is what Jay did.  There was blessing in it; he saw well and received a beautiful view that he could speak about.

I would not like to do what the CIB are doing these days, and I don’t think it is for God’s people either, of keeping an account of what every brother and sister has done through the years.  In 1950, they did that and they did it this year, too.  How much better it would be if we could wake up in the morning and feel, "I don’t have anything against anyone and want to genuinely love every brother and sister God has given me."  I don’t need to judge my brothers and sisters, for God will do that.  He did not give me perfect brothers and sisters and I’d like to see well and see them as struggling souls for life and liberty as they’ve been cleansed in the blood of the Lamb.

Exodus 33, Moses wanted to see something and said to the Lord, "Show me Your way, that I can have the assurance that these are your people."  If we can see clearly the way, we will have no problems seeing who the Lord’s people are.  Then Moses asked God to show him His glory.  We cannot see the Lord’s glory unless first we see the way.  Then God showed Moses His way, placed him in the cleft of the rock and put His hand over him and He passed by.  Moses only saw His hinder parts.  When God asked Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, can you imaging the questions he must have asked God, "How am I going to feed this multitude?  How am I going to give them instructions?  Where will I get water from in a wilderness?  If we are attacked, we are not a fit army to fight and how will we defend ourselves?  When we get to the sea, how will we cross the Jordan?"  No, he just went one step at a time and that is all that God asks of us today — just one step at a time, and then we see clearly the next step on our way.

God put His hand over Moses in the rock.  Before the Lord shows us His glory, He takes us through a dark experience similar to Job’s, a very dark experience and then the Lord showed him the glory of His kingdom.  Before Jesus went to that wonderful place at the right hand of His Father, He had that dark, dark experience at Gethsemane.  Sometimes the Lord puts His hand over us and many good things await us, if we don’t fear too much the darkness.  We have seen the Way and God wants to show us His glory now.  I see a picture of those saved ones, God’s people enjoying rest and peace forever.  I was so near once, and for many years I was right beside it and never saw it.  If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t be here today in this place where His glory is, and there wouldn’t be any hope for me now.  I’d arrive in a lost eternity and could only look back when I was so near and never saw the beauty of His way and His people.  Conventions and Sunday morning meetings are for our benefit to see things clearly, so one day we will not have to say we were nearly there.  We are here today because we have seen IT.