The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.
And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
I don’t remember when I started to lose my vision.
Little by little, my eyes stretched. They grew long instead of round. The curvature became more and more irregular, and more of the details I used to be able to see became blurry.
At ten years old, I started getting headaches in school. When my dad realized I couldn’t read the titles on the bookshelf across his office, he knew it was time to get me glasses.
At thirteen, we switched to contacts, hoping that placing correction directly on my eyes would slow the progression of my vision loss.
At fourteen, the eye doctors started recommending surgery.
At twenty, they stopped using the vision chart during exams of the naked eye. I couldn’t tell where it was.
Last month, a dilation test confirmed that my eyes have stopped changing and my prescription has stabilized.
I am left with three inches.
Three inches away, details are clear. It’s a small world without my glasses. Past three inches, there is a collage of colored shapes with smeared edges and poor definition. I lose facial features and can’t reliably tell who someone is unless they’re talking, and then I can’t always tell what they mean because I can’t read their body language. In a familiar setting, I do a pretty reliable job guessing at what things are, but then again, I did grab a set of earbuds from the nightstand this morning because they looked like glasses to me.
When I could wear my contacts I didn’t notice it that much. Now that I can only wear glasses, it’s more obvious. That square of clarity makes a big difference, but above, below or to the sides, I’m back to three inches. I can’t see down and ahead at the same time, and I have the bruises to prove it!
I lost my glasses in a lake a few weeks ago and spent three hours with my three inches while I waited for Cody to bring me a back-up pair of glasses. It gave me some perspective.
I am not blind. But I rely heavily on being able to either put on a lens or bring something closer to my face. If I can’t do either, I don’t rely on what I see. I know I’ve lost my bearings and, especially outside of familiar surroundings, I feel helpless.
It’s a silly illustration, but what if one day I woke up and decided to live like that? What if decided that what I was seeing was normal and didn’t adjust for it? What if I forgot my glasses on the nightstand and just went about my day guessing about what wasn’t clear?
What surprises would I bring home from the grocery store? What social cues would I misread? What if I decided to drive? Who knows where I’d end up and what damage I’d do on my way there?
I wonder if this is the concept Jesus was getting at when He described the deep darkness of someone who thinks they’re seeing light when they’re not. When you only have three inches, but you act like you can see miles ahead, you don’t recognize when you’re in deep trouble, much less see it coming in time to avoid it.
I would be in bad shape if I decided to ignore the fact that I have an eye condition that requires correction, so I don’t try to live without my lenses.
There is a Psalm that speaks of relying on God’s counsel that way:
“I have set the Lord always before me, because He is at my right hand, I will not be moved.”
Always before me. Like a pair of glasses through which I see life clearly.
Always before me. Because I am near-sighted in more than one way.
Always before me. Because it’s not enough to have eyes that work; they must focus on the right thing.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
I don’t do anything I consider important without my glasses on. Why don’t I carry the same assumption toward my need for Him?
What if I didn’t start a single day without stopping to regard Him; to linger, to pause, to reflect, to remember that He is my confidence, that He is what I need for this day? How different would I be if I kept in mind that it is not something out there I must go after, that there is no higher pursuit than the God I kneel before in this moment?
If I have not set my eyes on Him, I am walking out into the day without corrected vision, and my soul has an even higher prescription than my eyes.
I don’t trust my eyes past three inches; teach me to regard my heart with the same suspicion. Unaided, it is an unreliable judge of what’s truly important. It is near-sighted, and the way it sees the world is as small and suffocating as those three inches I lived in when I lost my glasses.
Me, my wants, my worries, my ambitions, that is all I see until I stop to gaze on You.
I don’t see the big picture without the adjustment of worship and the lens of Your words. They are as necessary to my day as any pair of glasses, and more so. In the midst of all the things that call for my attention with the first tone of my alarm clock, that urge me to rush out and meet them without pause, I must remember this:
I need to wait until I can see what I’m doing.
Lord help me to remember.
As I look to tomorrow, the day I hope will bring me to where I open my eyes in the morning and I’m not guessing anymore; where I see clearly, without the smudges and scratches and borders of glasses; I also look to the day where it takes no extra steps to see and recognize how central You are. The day when my heart’s vision is permanently corrected.
When You are revealed,
and I shall be like You,
for I shall see You as You are.
(1 John 3:2)
What a difference good vision makes! Help me to remember, Lord, that LASIK does not solve my daily need to correct my view of You.
*Photo Credit: David Heckman