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Blind Spots

It’s officialI have a 20% blind spot. I’ve lost significant vision in my right eye; and what’s amazing, I’ve even had a metaphorical blind spot about my literal blind spot. For some crazy reason it just never occurred to me that one of the reasons traffic often “blindsides me” is that I don’t see it.  Sadly, Linda had to point that out. She sweetly said, “You know, you keep getting surprised by cars on your right, but that’s exactly where the doctor says you lost some peripheral vision.”

It gets worse. After teasing my wife for years about the time that the garage “jumped out” and scraped her car, the same thing happened to me. The other day I was quickly pulling out while putting on my sunglasses and sending a text message. (I’m an amazing multitasker.) Then I heard an ugly and expensive sound. (Guys take note . . . be careful what you tease your wives about, your turn may be coming!)

Don’t doubt iteveryone has blind spots. It’s just that we don’t know exactly what they are; that’s why they’re called (drum roll please) blind spots! We often use that term metaphorically, but in my case it’s literally true. After years of treatment with expensive eye drops to reduce my high pressures, the doctors finally declared surgery to be essential to prevent further vision loss. I’m grateful for that; unfortunately, there is no surgery possible to reduce my blind spot. That’s the bad news. 

Here’s the good news … there is the possibility of “soul surgery” to reduce my spiritual blind spots. That’s the point of daily Bible reading and reflection. Slowly ponder these prayers of King David:

  • “How can I know the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from hidden faults. (Psalm 19:12)
  • “Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.” (Psalm 119:29)

Jesus warned us about noting the speck in someone else’s eye and missing the plank in our own. That explains why I can quickly discern the flaws of others and easily overlook my own. I appreciate how Tim Keller put it: “Self-deception is not the worst thing you can do, but it is the means by which we do the worst things. The sin that is most distorting your life right now is the one you can’t see.”

We all seem to have an amazing capacity for self-deception and self-justification, at least I do. How else can you explain how I can become so irritated over my wife’s tardiness and absentmindedness, yet justify my own? Why do some of her flaws bug me far more than my own? It’s crazy how inconsistent I can be.

I often appreciate the insights of Paul David Tripp in his devotional entitled New Morning Mercies. Here are a few subtle sinful masquerades (which I didn’t appreciate him highlighting) that clearly illuminated some blind spots.

  • A focus on material things can masquerade as good stewardship of your possessions.
  • Building your own ministry empire can masquerade as a commitment to the expansion of God’s kingdom.
  • Fear of man can masquerade as a sensitive heart toward the needs of others.
  • A craving to be known and respected can masquerade as a commitment to ministry.
  • Bondage to the opinions of others can masquerade as a commitment to community. 

Now that I have moved into a season allowing more reflection, I don’t always like what I see. Then again, there is something good about asking God to illuminate my spiritual blind spots. What I’m discovering is that the more of my sin I see, the more I recognize my desperate need for a Savior. 

John Newton saw spiritual things more clearly in his declining years. The former slave ship captain and later author of the song, Amazing Grace, lamented his decreasing mental and physical capacities, yet he confided, “I do remember two things: I am a great sinner and Jesus is a great Savior.”

Today, while I’m lamenting my vision loss I’m celebrating my growing awareness of God’s grace; may it ever be!

Grace and Peace,
Alan Ahlgrim
Director of Soul Care Covenant Groups
The Center for Church Leadership