About a year ago, a routine eye exam turned into a day at the neurologist office. After an MRI and a spinal tap later that month, I learned that my optic nerves were swollen, but thankfully, my vision had not been impacted. I was encouraged to continue visiting a neuro ophthalmologist as a precaution — at each visit, I participated in a visual field test. The purpose of the test was to determine if my perception had narrowed — Was I able to see objects on the outskirts of my view? The test is necessary because often we are not able to discern the peripheral vision loss as the decline is very gradual, and we have subconsciously learned to compensate.
Webster’s defines “discern” as detecting with the eyes, senses, or mind; to recognize or discriminate as distinct. To discern, whether with the eyes or the mind, is a skill — one that can be lost if neglected. Spiritually, my vision can also be crippled without my consciously being aware of it. Ephesians 5:8-10 (HCSB) challenges us: “For you were once darkness, but now [you are] light in the Lord. Walk as children of light — for the fruit of the light [results] in all goodness, righteousness, and truth — discerning what is pleasing to the Lord.” The key to strengthening my spiritual discernment is to remain connected to Christ. He helps me to
- distinguish between good and evil as I hear His voice (I Kings 3:9; Hebrews 5:14)
- reign in my will and emotions to stay on course (Proverbs 15:21)
- see through facades and determine the true motives of others (Malachi 3:18)
- perceive the right time to act and determine the best course of action (Ecclesiastes 8:5)
- gain insight that helps me understand His will and purposes (Proverbs 2:3)
- learn from my mistakes and make wiser choices in the future (Proverbs 19:25)
- recognize my own selfish, fleshy motives (Luke 12:56; Hebrews 4:12)
Just as light must penetrate the eye for us to see, we must connect to the true, eternal Light through Bible study and prayer in order to see with keen spiritual eyes. Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1 encourages us to purposefully pursue this aim: “My prayer for you is that you may have still more love—a love that is full of knowledge and wise insight. I want you to be able always to recognize the highest and the best, and to live sincere and blameless lives until the day of Jesus Christ. I want to see your lives full of true goodness, produced by the power that Jesus Christ gives you to the praise and glory of God” (v. 9-11, PHI).
Have you had a visual field test? What negatively impacts your field of vision spiritually?