Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Diabetic retinopathy, part 3: Following Recommendations

"No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays." (Luke 11:33-36 NASB)

We are currently taking a detour through a few eye diseases to help us understand the concept of "clear eye" and to make spiritual applications. We have previously considered Macular DegenerationGlaucomaDetached RetinaCataractsDiabetic Retinopathy, and Diabetic Retinopathy #2. You can click on the links to see those.

When I was reviewing information about diabetic retinopathy a few days ago, I came across a sentence that astounded me. "People with proliferative retinopathy can reduce their risk of blindness by 95% with timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care."1 The risk of blindness is not completely eliminated, but carefully following the recommendations of skilled physicians can decrease the risk of blindness tremendously. Considering how many times a day I "see" with my eyes, it seems foolish not to do what is recommended, yet diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness. Even though blindness can be prevented, we often fail to do what is needed to prevent it.

I don't have diabetes, and I don't want it. One of the things I fear most about diabetes is the business of following recommendations, "doing what I'm told". As an adult who was once a strong-willed child, I still want to understand "why" and "why not". The one diabetic recommendation I don't think I would have trouble following is the one about treating eye disease and preventing blindness. If we don't want blindness, we must do what it takes to protect our eyes. I can embrace that.

The world is full of recommendations and guidelines.  Lists of "twenty things you should do", "ten things you should never do" abound, and some of them sound good. How do we sort through all the information available today? How do we know what is true and what is not? Wouldn't it be nice to have a standard of truth against which everything else can be judged? 

It turns out that there is a standard. As followers of Christ, the Bible is our plumb line and everything else can be judged against it. If we obey the instructions God have given us in His Word, we will have a life that is filled with love, joy, peace. That does not mean we will be rich in material things, but in those with eternal significance. The Bible has many if/then promises. They are a little like the 95% reduction in blindness, but they are 100%. If we do what God says, He will do a certain thing.

Here are a few of my particular favorites: (an implied 'then' is in parentheses)

2 Chronicles 7:14 - "IF My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (Just to be sure we're clear, this is a directive for God's people, not the ones who don't know Him.)

Isaiah 1:19 - "IF you consent and obey, (THEN) you will eat the best from the land."

John 15:10,14 - IF you keep my commandments, (THEN) you will abide in My love.

Matthew 6:14-15  IF you forgive men when they sin against you, (THEN) your heavenly Father will also forgive you..."

Matthew 17:20 - IF you have faith as small as a mustard seed, (THEN) you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Those are not simply good recommendations, they are promises from Almighty God. If we do what He says, then we will have such good results as He promises. As encouraging as the 95% prevention of blindness is, these verses should be even more encouraging because they are 100% sure. If we obey, God will respond in ways that will astound us. It only makes good sense to obey.

If we need wisdom for today, we don't have to turn to a "twenty things to do" list that we download from the internet. What we need is TRUTH that stands the test of time, and that truth is readily available. Let's be sure we turn to the One who IS truth when we seek truth.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; 
no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6 NASB