In my care of my dad some new things are beginning to develop in his life. These things have to do with what he sees. My dad was diagnosed with macular degeneration when he was in his early 60s.
“Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss in people over age 60. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. Because the disease develops as a person ages, it is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration.” (Quote from WebMD)
This condition has literally left him basically blind. It has been a progression. He lost his license to drive when he was in his 70s. He wasn’t happy about that but it was best for him and everyone else on the road. I’m not sure exactly how much he can see but I know that in his own home, he can navigate fairly well. However, it’s unnerving when I’m sitting across from him and he speaks to the right as if I’m standing there. He just doesn’t know where I am. It has to be extremely hard to live with this. I know it’s his major complaint most of the time.
There is so much that he misses. He can’t see the flowers in bloom or the tomatoes on his vines. He doesn’t get to appreciate the sunrise or sunset. If someone has a new car, he can’t see it. The expressions on faces are lost for him. The smiles of others given to him are unaccepted. My heart breaks for him in the losses he experiences because of his condition. But now he seems to be experiencing sight of things that aren’t there.
He shared with me the other day that he was seeing people. It’s not the first time he’s seen people that aren’t there. He had an elaborate story about dancing people in the street with fireworks a couple of weeks ago. My thought is that he sleeps most of the day and his dreams are becoming very vivid. So much so that he believes them to be true. When I correct him and tell him there’s no one else around, he hangs his head. How hard for him! He says, “I’m seeing things.” His mind is playing tricks on him and I wish I could make it stop for him but I can’t.
I can be like dad and see things. How many times do we see what we want to see? We color our world with our own perceptions instead of truth. Our desire is for what we want and we’ll seek to see it happening. We can even put words in God’s mouth by saying things like, “this is what God told me” or “this is what God wants me to do”. When we look at our world and see what we want to see, our world is revolving around us and not God. This world was created by God and is his, not ours. So how are we to look at the world or our circumstances?
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and the perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 NIV
Do you see the terminology here? We are to fix our eyes on Jesus. What does that mean? This is all about concentration on Jesus and what he’s accomplished for us. As we move through this life we need to always remember that the gospel of Jesus is truth. There’s our lens for life. It’s not about what we want to see or think we see but about the truth of what Jesus has done for us. This is so helpful because frankly, life can be very hard at times. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus, not on the circumstances of life.
Another great reason for concentrating on Jesus is so that we’ll be able to rejoice in all the things the Lord is doing around us. We get to see the blessings when we concentrate on Jesus. By doing this we’ll develop a heart of gratitude rather than a disappointed heart when life doesn’t go our way. Even in the difficult things of life God is at work and we can trust the work he’s doing on our behalf.
We need to be aware that we can have spiritual macular degeneration. Our eyes can become accustomed to seeing the dark side of everything rather than the light of Jesus in everything. As I care for my dad my desire is to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. I’m not always successful in my endeavors but God is always successful in his.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for god, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first born among many brothers.” Romans 8:28-29