Growing up, I was always fond of going to airshows and watching the various acrobatics performed or the high-speed flybys by some of the more elite military jets. I’ve always possessed a great affinity for military aircraft-well all types of aircraft for that matter but especially those belonging to the military. Having studied aircraft and flying for many years, and watching many different documentaries on the subject, one of the things that became apparent was the strict training and requirements needed to fly such aircraft. The body must be able to undergo extreme circumstances and situations while in flight so that the pilot can retain strict focus on both flying and engaging the enemy. One of the phenomena encountered in much of the acrobatic and high speed flight is what is called ‘tunnel vision’. It occurs at high speed turns, banks and rolls by the pilot and is caused by the high amount of G forces applied to the pilot’s body. When tunnel vision occurs it narrow the pilot’s view to only that which is directly in front of them, cancelling out their peripheral vision. This of course is very dangerous and pilots must learn to combat this so they can keep a full view of what is in front of them.
As a Christian, we also are subject to many types of extreme conditions throughout our lives. Especially in this day and age, there is so much coming at us from many different angles; technology is at an all-time high, even worsening the situation and, the pace of life is racing at Mach speeds all the time! With all this transpiring, it can be difficult to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. It can be very hard to keep in faith with our attention being pulled this way and that.
Tunnel vision is defined as the following: defective sight in which objects cannot be properly seen if not close to the center of the field of view. The tendency to focus exclusively on a single or limited goal or point of view.
Now typically focus is a good thing. When it comes to our purpose and living for Christ we most definitely want that focus-with Christ completely in the center of our view. What I’m about to discuss though is seeing it through the reverse angle of things.
The Bible is very specific about where we are to place our thoughts and focus – on Jesus of course. I’ve listed a few scriptures below outlining what the Bible says about this:
“Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], KEEP SEEKING THE THINGS THAT ARE ABOVE, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. SET YOUR MIND AND KEEP FOCUSED HABITUALLY ON THE THINGS ABOVE [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. (Col 3:1-2/ AMP)
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, FIX YOUR THOUGHTS ON JESUS, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” (Heb 3:1 / NIV)
“Let us KEEP OUR EYES FIXED ON JESUS, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.” (Heb 12:2 / TEV)
One of the devil’s main tactics is to get us to focus on ourselves instead of those around us. If the devil can get us bogged down on our needs, our finances, our jobs, our kids, our health, our situations, etc., we then lose sight of Jesus and our heavenly goals. We can easily take on what I call ‘spiritual tunnel vision’ and become engrossed, and eventually overwhelmed, in our own problems! Once this happens, we no longer possess the ability to correctly see situations around us. Then all we see is, typically only that which is right in front of us – being our own problems. This is spiritual tunnel vision.
God has designed the life in Christ to be a form of rest. Although the scriptures tell us we were created to do good works as a result of our faith, those works birth from our love for God and His love for us – at least they are supposed to. When we begin to feel burdened and tired, it’s usually a red flag that we are out of faith somewhere. At some point, we missed it. We stopped leaning on the Holy Spirit and started leaning on ourselves. Spiritual tunnel vision is a symptom of just this thing.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt 11:28-30/ MSG)
The enemy plays on the core sin from which all sin stems: SELF. Self is our biggest problem. We are our own worst enemy. When we are engrossed with self, we no longer see others. Seeing others is the crux of our purpose in Christ. We are to love others above ourselves. We are share the Gospel with those around us. We are to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. Self opposes all that is about others. Thus…
Spiritual tunnel vision is a ploy of the enemy AND we must combat it! This requires us to be aware of our situation and if red flags start flying, we need to step back, assess and ask the Lord where we missed it. Here is a small checklist of ‘Have we’s’ to go through to find the misstep:
- …stopped reading the Bible regularly?
- …stopped praying for others?
- …stopped fellowshipping with other Christians?
- …become too engrossed with our job?
- …allowed sin in our lives somewhere?
- …started hanging out with the wrong people?
- …started dating the wrong person (a non-Christian!)?
- …begun pursuing our own interests rather than the Lord’s?
- …become occupied with ‘good’ things rather than ‘God’ things?
- …become entangled with sports and activities taking priority over our time with the Lord?
- …started worrying about things rather than just giving God praise and trusting Him to see us through?
All of these things…or any one of these things can begin to pull us away from the peace of God and place we are to reside within Him in life. The Lord wants to use us to impact others with the Gospel. He wants to use us to pray for others and offer help to those in need around us. He wants our schedule to be pliable to His timeline-not our own. God’s plan is us. It’s you. There isn’t a plan ‘B’ if you decide not to let Him use you. God saves people through you and me. It’s how this all works. This is why spiritual tunnel vision is so deadly. It pulls us away from our very purpose in life. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. He does it through us!
My prayer is that we all regularly take a self-inventory of where we are spiritually. Tunnel vision causes stress, anxiety and worry. Walking in His plan brings peace, tranquility and purpose. May He always be the source of all we love and pursue so we can avoid spiritual tunnel vision and BE the impact this Earth needs.