Horse Sense


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 12; 146, Hosea 2:16-23, Acts 21:1-14, Luke 5:12-26

Horses’ eyes are positioned to give them a horizontal field of vision spanning nearly 350 degrees, but the trade-off is a lack of depth perception. Their optic nerves function fairly independently, and an object seen first from the right side will be perceived as a new object when seen from the left. Raising their heads to look forward improves visual acuity, but then the field is reduced to about 65 degrees. The same world, containing the same information, can be perceived very differently by a single animal, let alone a herd.

As Paul prepared to leave Caesarea and return to Jerusalem, the prophet Agabus warned him the Jews would capture him and turn him over to the Gentile authorities. Naturally his companions did not want him to go, but Paul was ready to be bound and even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. God’s love was present both in Paul’s friends, who valued his life, and in Paul, who valued his mission over his personal safety. We can imagine the discussion was more heated and heartfelt than Acts describes.

People of good will in service to the Lord can see and understand that service very differently. At times, across and within faith communities, they may even seem to be working at cross purposes. Rather than insist on a single way, let’s consider the horse. We are limited in our perception of God and reality, yet that perception is all we have to work with. Each of us sees only a single slice. When we are focused on what’s in front of us, which may be exactly the right thing to do at the time, it’s difficult to maintain a wider view. When we try to take in the bigger picture, our comprehension will only ever go so deep. Only God knows the whole picture, and points us in the direction that is right for us.

Though we may not be in accord with each other’s point of view, like Paul and his friends we need only agree on one thing: the Lord’s will be done.

Comfort: Your slice of the plan doesn’t have to cover everything.

Challenge: Be open to the idea that God may be working in ways that will never make sense to you.

Prayer: God of Wisdom, grant me both clarity and humility. Amen.

Discussion: Do you have a favorite optical illusion?

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Invitation: I Can See Clearly Now


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my eyes. Design-wise they aren’t so great. I am very near-sighted. I’m fortunate that my vision is easily corrected with glasses or contacts, but without corrective lenses my adult vision has landed somewhere between 20/220 and 20/240. Legal blindness is 20/200 in the better eye. I can’t read normal print more than about 6 inches from my face, and headlines are a strain at arm’s length. Since eyeglasses weren’t invented until the latter half of the 13th century, I am grateful to have been born afterward. In the 12th century, despite a pretty capable brain, my options would have been quite limited by my visual impairment. My potential – maybe my understanding of the world – would probably never have exceeded the length of my arm. Ironically, my inability to see would have rendered others unable to see me for who I truly was. Continue reading