Vision - most of us think of this as the ability to see. When it is not there, such as when we have been plunged into darkness by someone covering our eyes with a blindfold, we grope our way through life, don't we? It is as though we have to rely upon our other senses or else we will stumble. How well do you move in this state? Are your movements as fluid as normal? Not likely. In fact, you probably take shorter steps, feeling your way to make sure your footing is solid before you even take the next one. I think we sometimes approach our spiritual life this same way - with a "blindfold" of sorts making us "stumble along" with uncertainty and a lack of vision.
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. (Psalm 29:18 NIV)
Two words come to mind when I think of vision: Perception and Discernment. It is the combined form of actually "seeing" and "knowing". If you have ever seen something, but then had to ponder for a while what the thing was you were beholding, you might know what it is like to possess sight without understanding. If you can interpret the general shape of an object while blindfolded, you might be able to guess at what it is you are not seeing, but you might not know for sure. Perception and discernment go hand-in-hand. They are God's way of helping us not only walk, but to do so with assurance and firm foundation.
Perception is the ability of the mind to actually apprehend an idea - we call this cognition. Discernment is the ability to put some "discriminating thought" into what it is you perceive. In other words, you can make some "judgment" based on what you know. Our passage today reminds us without vision a people perish. In other words, when we don't have a clear perception of the redemptive work of Christ in our lives, we stumble around a lot. We need to apprehend (comprehend) the redemptive work of Christ - making us new creations in him. We give a lot of "lip-service" to this idea of being new creatures in Christ, but I wonder how many of us are really wearing our blindfolds and just stumbling along trying to perceive, but having our perception blocked by the blindfold.
Open you eyes with a blindfold on and what do you see? The blindfold! At best, with the blindfold in place, we only have "internal reminders" of the things we perceive. In other words, we stumble around the furnishings because we remember their general shape and size. We don't actually see them, but we recall what it is we know about them in order to avoid them. I wonder how many "hazards" in life we merely stumble around, blindfold in place, simply with the use of our "internal reminders" of them being there? The memories we form might give us a perception of the way things "were", but the ability to discern how they "are" now is only possible when the blindfold is removed by the grace of God's work in our lives.
The purpose of the blindfold is to impair the awareness or clear thinking of the one who is wearing it. When we put a blindfold on a child, spin him around, and then send him toward the picture of the donkey on the wall with a little "tail" to pin on it, how does the child respond? It soon becomes evident his awareness of his surroundings is altered by the blindfold. He doesn't think clearly, but blindly walks forward (at least he thinks he is walking forward) and aims at whatever he comes into contact with. The danger is the tail may get "pinned" where it doesn't belong! Awareness or clear thinking are necessary in order to perceive. Until you have clear thinking, the thing you "think" you perceive will be only based on what it is you have formed an internal reminder about in your memory.
Vision is our "V" List trait - the ability to have clear thinking and awareness of the redemptive work Christ is doing and has done in us. The redemptive work began at the moment we welcomed Jesus into our lives as our Savior. The work continues each day until we reach perfection in Christ Jesus. Since none of us are there yet, I believe we need to continually ask him to help us remove the blindfold from our eyes so we see clearly what he desires to do in every area of our lives. We can stumble around with past memories (internal reminders), or we can get a fresh perceptive. The choice is ours. I think it is time to begin to ask God to remove some of the blindfolds we might have just kept on because we were afraid of the light! Light exposes, but once it does, the internal reminders are free to be understood exactly for what they are - past perceptions which need not influence our present reality! Just sayin!