My desire for this year of “2020 Vision” is to see more clearly — not physically, but spiritually.
My eyesight is corrected with glasses thanks to the science of optometry. What about my spiritual vision? Is it impaired? How would I know? And what corrective measures are required to fix it?
The Bible is filled with people who had spiritual vision: Adam, Abraham, Moses, the Old Testament prophets, Joseph and Mary. It is also filled with people who were spiritually impaired: most of the kings, Job’s wife and Judas Iscariot just to name a few. Nearly everyone else had moments of brilliance and moments of blindness just like we all do.
My husband and I call our spiritual clarity being “in the zone,” a sports metaphor. It’s when we are in tune with God, filled with the Holy Spirit insight and loving the people around us. Life is good and we rise to embrace whatever God brings to us.
Ah, but there are also moments of spiritual impairment.
Like a car with four flat tires, we can’t quite reach the speed limit and each car that passes us by is an opportunity for road-rage. People are irritating, our pets are ungrateful and we don’t trust ourselves to say what we’re really thinking.
Life outside “the zone” isn’t much fun.
Our biggest battles aren’t with people and situations; the war takes place on the inside. I think I’ve identified five things that are spiritual cataracts in my life.
The first one is pride. In a world that rewards “looking out for number one,” it goes against the cultural current to choose humility. Just when I start feeling proud that I am “in the zone” and start taking credit for positioning myself there, pride instantly knocks me out. Bam! God permits something to happen in my life that reminds me He is sovereign and I am not. Laying aside pride is a daily choice, and sometimes a hard one because it is spiritually sneaky.
The second attitude that clouds my spiritual vision is worry. When tough times happen it is human instinct to react with fear instead of a spirit of faith. Scripture tells us over and over that God is our strong tower. He protects and provisions us. He is our safe place. Trusting Him doesn’t mean we will never be tempted towards anxious thoughts. It means we won’t permit worry to determine our actions.
Third is anger. These past few years have revealed deep-rooted anger in our society: political divisiveness, domestic abuse and bullying to name a few. I’m increasingly convinced that rampant addiction, depression and suicide are directly related to the effect someone’s anger has had on someone else’s life. Only God can transform the hardness of people’s hearts. If we let Him, God can change us into people of kindness, gentleness, self-control and loving encouragement.
The fourth thing that impairs my spiritual vision is materialism. What we have is not an indicator of who we are.
Money and things don’t make people happy. People make people happy. When I fixate on our material possessions I lose sight of God’s great generosity. A new sofa won’t really have lasting value; a new friend sitting on the current one will.
And finally, unforgiveness. Practical forgiveness is a necessary component of every successful relationship. Without it, we are unable to see the good in others. More importantly, we cannot see Christ’s sacrifice until we choose to forgive.
My “2020 Vision” depends on removing the spiritual cataracts of pride, worry, anger, materialism and unforgiveness.
Then I’ll be able to see what God has for me this year.
Sylvia Peterson is a former co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and an author. She and her husband are chaplains for the Bald Hills Fire Department. You can email her at email@example.com.