I spent last week in the Colorado Rockies in a portion of the mountains that has been a part of my family’s history since the early 1900s. One of our favorite activities while we are there is to hike to nearby lakes. This year was no different, except I brought along a handicap to my hiking ability.
Several weeks ago I woke up to double vision. Three doctor appointments and an MRI later, I was told that one of the nerves (or muscles) that controls the movement of my eye was weak. In my case, it was the nerve that is responsible for the downward movement of the eye—the one we use when we are reading or walking down a flight of stairs. Luckily, after about nine days, my constant double vision left as quickly as it started, but it often returns temporarily when my eyes are tired.
If you’ve ever hiked in the Rockies, you’ll know you spend a good portion of your time looking down. It’s necessary in order to navigate all the rocks and other obstacles you find on your path. When we took a short 3-mile hike early in the week, I realized this was going to be a problem. By the end of the hike, I was seeing double again. But it only lasted a few hours and didn’t hinder me too much, so when some of our group talked about another hike later in the week, I was all in. My husband warned against it. This hike was twice as long as the first, but it was my favorite hike to my favorite lake, so I stubbornly ignored his advice and headed out with the others.
We reached the lake just as a rain shower hit, sending us into the shelter of the trees to eat our lunch. The storm passed and the sun came out, giving my cousin a chance to do a little fly fishing while a few of us climbed up along a beautiful stream that empties into the lake in search of the wildflowers that often hide there.
All was good until the hike home. As we started down the trail, hurrying this time to beat a second storm we could hear rumbling in the distance, I quickly realized my double vision was back and worse than ever. Suddenly the uneven logs, wet rocks and exposed roots that made up our trail became insurmountable obstacles. Yet, when I closed one eye to remedy the problem, I lost my depth perception and was unsure of where to step. Luckily, my sweet sister-in -law recognized my dilemma and slowed down to give me a helping hand.
Our progress was slow, but steady. Because the rest of the group had gone on ahead, there was plenty of time for the two of us to chat. We spent a little while discussing a particularly trying life circumstance she is going through. She told me she was trying not to concentrate so much on the end result, but to focus on the journey itself and the lessons she was learning along the way.
To lighten the mood I asked, “So what did we learn on our journey today?”
We had some fun compiling a list:
- Come prepared for rain
- Choose a hiking partner you can trust to hold your hand over the rough patches
- Take time to stop and enjoy the view
- Seek out hidden beauty
And a 5th one which made us both laugh: Never Hike with Double Vision.
All points on the list make great life lessons, but #5 was the one I stopped to ponder. How often do I go through my spiritual life with double vision? How often do I say I believe what God tells me in the Bible and yet respond to life with my old sinful patterns? How often do I buy into the world’s values and wisdom rather than firmly relying on God’s? In James 1:8 we are warned that “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” The NLT translates double-mindedness as having our “loyalty divided between God and the world.”
I can vouch for the instability of double vision—both literally and figuratively. When I try to look at the world through both mind-sets, my vision is unstable. Lines between right and wrong are blurred and the obstacles in my path seem multiplied.
Want to know what cures my literal double vision? Looking up. If I keep my gaze focused upward, I no longer rely on my weak eye muscle and my vision clears. Now I know each of you is smart enough to take this analogy to its logical conclusion, so I won’t restate the obvious, but I will leave you with this verse of encouragement:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2a (NIV) [emphasis mine]
Keep on looking up!