by Calven Celliers
It was apparently a preacher who invented blinders for horses, or so I’ve read. The story goes that one day this preacher was leading his horse down some unfamiliar stairs when the horse suddenly stopped, and no matter what the poor ol’ preacher did he couldn’t get his trusty steed to budge. When the preacher realised that it was because of what his horse saw, he covered part of his horse’s vision, and hey presto, problem solved! The blinders helped the horse to keep on moving in the midst of uncertainty.
Horses are known to be distracted by activity in their peripheral vision, and so that’s why they wear blinders to keep their eyes focused on what is straight ahead of them. Without them, it is very difficult to keep a horse from being side-tracked by what is happening to the right or left. And while I’m no Italian stallion, I’ve found the same is true for me.
In the book of Joshua, after the death of Moses, we read God’s words encouraging Joshua, as he is installed as the leader of the Israelites, to wear spiritual blinders to help him maintain the focus he needed:
“7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” (Joshua 1: 7NIV)
Only by keeping his eyes fixed on God would Joshua be able to minimize the obstacles and distractions that threatened his success. If he let the obstacles around him into his focus, they would grow in their capacity to lure him off God’s path, and the exact same is true for each and every one of us.
Though not many people I know are called to conquer a land, we are all called to conquer our fears, bad habits, and the sin that so easily entangles. And to do that we will need spiritual blinders to help us. I like the way one author put it when he wrote – “One way of putting on spiritual blinders is to think of adjusting a camera lens. When your lens is set at a wide angle, you capture many things in your photograph. When you zoom in, everything but the object you are focused on disappears from view. This is the focus you need to move forward in your trust.”
As I read that I immediately thought of Peter when he walked on the water toward Jesus; when he kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to take a few miraculous steps. In his gospel account, Matthew records, however, that “30 …when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”” (Matthew 14:30NIV)
Peter learned the self-same lesson that Joshua learnt: Keep your focus on Jesus, despite what’s happening around you. But let’s get real, there is so much noise! With all the stuff going on in the world, plus the insane pace of our own lives, it’s no wonder we lose sight of Jesus so easily. At every turn, there is an opportunity to get lost in the chaos of the world. So how do you stay focused spiritually, amidst all the craziness? There’s no getting around it, discipline is the name of the game when it comes to spiritual focus. Or at least that’s my own personal experience. We simply can’t do or be what God has called us to, if we’re not staying connected to Christ. But, doing that takes some effort on our part. You need to put on your spiritual blinders.
In closing here’s 3 simple suggestions:
- Create a routine for your daily life, that puts the focus on God;
- Remove distractions / negative influences that take your focus away from Christ; and
- Surround yourself with reminders of Jesus!
Yours in Christ,