Summary: We so often live with tunnel vision. But if we turn aside and look at what God is doing, we will find an experience that will not end, a mission that will direct our lives, and a presence that will never leave us.
I confess to a malady known as “tunnel vision”. Tunnel vision is being able to see only what is straight ahead, as if I were going through a tunnel, and there is nothing to see on the sides, only the light at the end of the tunnel. Tunnel vision is not so much a condition of the eyes as it is of the mind. It’s not that your eyes cannot see anything but the end; it’s more that your mind is so set on what’s out there that you pay no attention to what is off to the side. I am told that I have tunnel vision.
She who normally sits at my right hand in the passenger seat tells me that. If we are off to some place unfamiliar, I am so busy watching the road that I may not notice landmarks or signposts that would tell me where to turn, and so she is designated as the navigator. She reads maps and calculates how long before we take the next turn. And when – if you’ll watch my gesturing now – when she announces, “Turn right here” and swings her left hand toward me, that’s when my tunnel vision kicks in. I don’t see the left hand; I only hear the word “right” and I do not interpret right right. I make the wrong turn and am accused of tunnel vision! Right? Right!
But tunnel vision is not merely a malady of the road. It is more than a car-driving problem. Tunnel vision is a life disease. Tunnel vision is a way of living for those of us who we get so settled into life patterns that we miss much that does not fit that pattern. Tunnel vision means that we build our routines and set our paths and never digress. We miss many of life’s riches. I had a friend who lived in Clinton, out in Prince George’s County, but who worked in downtown DC. She knew only one route to take from her home to her office. Now one day that road was blocked by firefighters; the police sent everyone on a detour. My friend knew only one thing to do: turn around and go home. She missed a day’s work and the adventure of the detour because she knew only one way to go. Tunnel vision; she would not turn aside and look for something else.
I can imagine Moses like that. Moses had had a problem back in Egypt, having killed a man on the desert sands. Moses had fled to the wilderness, a fugitive from justice, but he had created a new life for himself. He had married and settled down, and had a cushy job on the family firm. Well, maybe tending sheep does not sound that cushy to you, but it was secure and it was a set routine. Take them out, let them forage, bring them home. It paid the bills.
But one day, out of the corner of Moses’ eye, amid the scrubby plants of the oasis where the sheep fed, he saw something unusual. Flames, a bush burning, but not consumed. Something he could not explain. And for once in his life, young Moses said to himself, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight.” I need to get out of this tunnel vision, because something special is going on. “I must turn aside and look at this great sight.” A bush aflame with fire but not burned up. What is this all about?
And when Moses turned aside to look, he was rewarded with an experience that would not end, with a mission that would direct his life, and with a presence that would stay with him forever. It’s worth it to turn aside from your habits and look if you receive all that – an experience that will not end, a mission that will direct your life, and a presence that will stay with you forever.
Moses turned aside to look, and he saw a flame that would not go out in a bush that would not be consumed. Moses turned aside to look, and he had an experience that would not end.
Most of the time we experience the thrill of the moment, but then it’s gone. But not this time; this was an eternal flame in a tree that would persist. People in my hometown spend hundreds of dollars for a ticket to Churchill Downs to see the Kentucky Derby. I’ve never understood that. It’s all over in about two minutes. Others, sadly, pay out huge sums for a bottle of booze or a few puffs of an illegal weed. But that dubious pleasure is also over in a short while. The thrills this world has to offer cost too much and are finished in too short a time. But Moses was on to something; he turned aside to look at what God was doing, and found it would last and last, from here to eternity. A flame that would not go out and a tree that was not consumed.