I know that it sounds foolish, but every now and then I still think that I see him — in a car one lane over, at the gas station, in the supermarket line up. “Hey there’s Ricky, the words begin to form before I remember, that it isn’t him, it can’t be him. And then I’m always astounded that for a split second I have almost forgotten that Ricky has died. And I have to come to terms with the fact that my eyes are simply playing tricks on me. And that someone with a similar look or a familiar way of moving has stirred a memory in me, and that memory has linked to an emotion and I have had what is known as a ‘Phantom vision.’
There is technical term for this condition of having Phantom Visions called “Charles Bonnet Syndrome.” This condition has nothing to do with mental agility or stability, when you have phantom vision, your mind is fine; it is your eyes that are just not processing the information that they are seeing correctly. Sometimes this can cause us to believe that we are seeing something that isn’t there, or it can cause us to see something that is different than what we are actually looking at. It is a side effect of low vision.
The side effect of low vision is not just contained to our physical eyes it can affect our spiritual sight as well. Proverbs 29:18 tells us that when we have no vision (revelation from the Lord) that we begin to cast off restraint.
Sliding away from the Lord always starts when we begin to lose our spiritual sight. Our hope fades, our feelings change and diminish. We begin to lose our way—a spiritual side affect of low vision. And then we begin to do what is right in our own eyes. Our narrow path is not so easily navigated—eyes with low or no vision cannot be trusted to see clearly.
Lord Alfred Tennyson so eloquently quoted, “Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.” I would add to his sentiment that sometimes the heart needs to see what is invisible to the eye. Whether it is the unexpected blessing of the memory of a loved one or whether it is the unity of direction, passion and vision that we who are called by God share.
I would like to close by praying for you, for all of us in the same way that Paul did in his epistle to the Romans: "having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all" (Eph. 1:18-23, ESV).
Much Love and Many Blessings to You All in this Glorious Hope Filled New Year!
"Wherever I’m appointed to serve as pastor I plan on encouraging our youth to participate in a Discovery Weekend. Knowing that The Upper Room is a part of building the content, I can trust it as a Wesleyan spiritual formation resource for youth." Learn more about Discovery Weekend here.