PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Walking By Faith

“For we walk by faith and not by sight” — 2 Cor. 5:7

My vision recently altered.

I had the flu in January and in the aftermath, my previously very controlled prediabetis/diabetes went haywire. It took me awhile to figure out what was going on because I just thought it was residual from the flu and an infection that followed.

At the same time, I started having trouble seeing. First, I attributed it to the fact that I was ill. Then I thought it was because my glasses were askew as a result of falling face first into an asphalt parking lot with my glasses taking the brunt of the fall. (It was a bad month …)

After a few weeks, I went to the doctor, found out what was going on and forged ahead with a plan to address the health issues (under control now!), but I still couldn’t see clearly, even after I had my scratched glasses replaced.

FInally, I went to my optometrist to get an exam. Much to both of our shock, my vision had IMPROVED by 30 percent. It is still awful, but I went from a correction of 11 to 7.75. My doctor told me she had heard about a diabetic incident impacting vision and occasionally seen it but never anything like this kind of correction. She even found and sent me an article about it from one of her journals.

As we talked, she said because such a radical change is so highly unusual (my correction was more significant than the one in the article), and because it is likely that the eyes will take some time to normalize, my correction is likely to change in the weeks and months ahead, until it settles into a new normal.

In the meantime, I needed to order new glasses so that I could see the world sharply and clearly again (and be safe to drive … should I need to).

I think this is a good analogy for what is happening in our world, and especially in our country, right now. Because of a virus, everything has gone kittywampus around us, thrown up in the air and coming down in complete disarray. Radical changes are occurring, and that leaves us feeling off kilter and unable to see things perhaps as clearly as we would like.

We know that this will not last forever, that someday our world will return, if not to normal, to a “new normal,” which hopefully will be an improvement on what we had before. Perhaps with a deeper understanding of our interconnectedness, the importance of fostering community connection and our need to work together for the common good.

But as we wait, during this time of isolation, we need to alter our vision from business as usual. We are remaining at home to protect our community, especially those with compromising conditions. We make sacrifices because we care about those who are at risk, rather than assuming because it may not impact us severely, it won’t matter. Right now, we are getting a real, hands-on exercise of what it means to “love our neighbors as ourselves” in honest and concrete ways.

In addition, our vision of the world and the role of government may need to change. It is truly amazing to see the real leaders of both parties, especially the governors, who are stepping out right now, proclaiming that we are called to consider the needs of the most vulnerable rather than casting them aside as “useless” to us because they are old or have health issues. We are seeing what we often assail prove how vital good government can be.

I am humbled to see some politicians in a world that often sees them all as self-serving show what it means to be true public servants. So many are working tirelessly as they rely on science, on facts and on the needs in the community. Talk about seeing something in a new light.

At its best, we are adjusting our sense of self as the center of our society and improving our vision of what matters most.

And as we do this, we need to walk by faith not by sight. That means that we are called to listen to our better angels. Walking by faith means that we care about “the least of these” even if it means a time of economic sacrifice.  It means making adjustments in how we live because it isn’t just about us. It means sharing not hoarding, it means trusting God and the knowledge God gives our public health and medical professionals.

Walking by faith means taking the path that doesn’t necessarily make the most sense for our bottom line but rather the path that follows the values that are instilled in us by God. It means trusting that God will guide us using the tools He has given us and relying on them.

Walking by faith means that we alter how we view things. I needed new lenses to see sharply and clearly right now, and each of us may need new lenses to view the world — knowing that eventually, the world will adjust to a new way of living but trusting that if we walk through this path by faith not sight, what will ultimately appear is an improved view of the world.


Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart, Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art,

Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light. Amen

(Words from the hymn “Be Thou My Vision.”)

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