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Myopia

Myopia:

  1. Ophthalmology. a condition of the eye in which parallel rays are focused in front of the retina, objects being seen distinctly only when near to the eye; nearsightedness (opposed to hyperopia).
  2. lack of foresight or discernment; obtuseness.
  3. narrow-mindedness; intolerance.

I have a friend who was nearly blinded by a stubborn nail he pulled from the wall of an old building. Several operations by brilliant surgeons restored his vision, but he now drives around with a supply of safety glasses that he hands out to neighbors and strangers whenever he sees one with a tool in hand. He has convinced me that I shouldn’t drive a four-wheeler or cast a fishing lure without wearing certified safety glasses.

There is scientific disagreement on how much humans see and comprehend within their field of vision, but most research suggests it is very small. I, for instance, will not recall the color of the walls in a restaurant I just left because it’s not important to me. On the other hand, I might see a hawk in flight, and even notice its red tail, when someone else might not see it at all. Of course, all of this is related to our brains. Without an optic nerve that connects the retina to the occipital lobes of the brain, we would not be able to process vision in any meaningful way. Even with 20/20 vision, our brains limit our ability to see fully and clearly. 

Have you ever noticed how many of the healing miracles of Jesus involve blindness? Some people speculate it is because vision problems were more prominent in those days, but I suspect there is a deeper message. Jesus healed blind people as a sign and symbol of the intellectual and spiritual myopia all humans suffer from. Simply put, Jesus wanted us to see more clearly with both our hearts and our minds.

One of my favorite miracles of Jesus is told by the gospel writer Mark in the eighth chapter. After being touched by Jesus, the man said, “I see people, but they look like trees.” Jesus had to touch him again to fully restore his vision. What I love about this story is that the man was honest enough with both himself and Jesus to admit that he still did not see things clearly. It is a powerful reminder about the importance of spiritual humility.

Today I am asking God to help me see things more clearly, or at least have the courage to confess my myopia.

Rev. Don Underwood