Jeff Lawrence

Blind Man in the Forest

“they may indeed look, and yet not perceive; they may indeed listen, and yet not understand…” Mark 4:12

On a recent trip to the Rocky Mountains National Park, I had an experience that stirred deep reflection. As we ventured along a particularly challenging trail, my eyes were drawn to an unusual sight: a blind man, accompanied by his therapy dog and two guides, navigating the rugged terrain. My initial reaction was one of puzzlement – what’s the point? He can’t see the breathtaking vistas, the towering pines, or the cascading streams. But as I watched him proceed with determination, it became evident that there was a profound lesson unfolding before me.

We often take our ability to see for granted, equating sight with understanding and perception. Yet, watching the blind man on the trail suggested a deeper truth: perhaps he could see more than we ever could. This man, though devoid of physical sight, seemed to embody a different kind of vision – one that transcends the physical and touches the spiritual.

This brings to mind the words of Jesus, who, quoting the Prophet Isaiah, said in Mark 4:12: “so that ‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’” Jesus’ words point to a paradox of human experience: the ability to see and hear does not necessarily equate to understanding and perceiving the deeper truths of life and faith.

In our fast-paced, visually driven world, we are bombarded with images and sounds. We are constantly seeing, yet often we fail to truly perceive. We hear, but we do not always understand. The blind man in the forest, relying on his guides and his faithful therapy dog, teaches us that perception is not limited to physical sight. He navigates the world through trust, dependence, and an acute awareness of his surroundings that many of us, with our eyes wide open, might lack.

This man’s journey through the forest mirrors our spiritual journey. In a sense, we are all blind, stumbling through the dense and often confusing forest of life. We rely on our own “guides” – our faith, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit – to lead us through the darkness. And just as the blind man trusts his companions to guide him safely, we must learn to trust in God’s guidance.

Jesus’ reference to Isaiah highlights the spiritual blindness that can afflict anyone. Seeing but not perceiving, hearing but not understanding – these are symptoms of a deeper malaise, one that stems from a heart that is not fully turned towards God. Physical sight can often be a distraction, leading us to focus on the superficial rather than the substantive.

To truly perceive, we need a different kind of vision. This is a vision that comes from the Spirit, a vision that sees beyond the visible and understands the eternal. It’s a vision that recognizes the presence of God in every moment, every trial, and every triumph.

The blind man in the forest, with his therapy dog and guides, is a living parable. He reminds us that true vision only comes by the pathway of wisdom. His physical blindness is not a limitation but a different way of experiencing the world. It forces him, and us as observers, to rely on deeper truth, to trust more fully, and to perceive more profoundly.

In our own lives, we often find ourselves on difficult trails, unsure of the path ahead. We face obstacles that seem insurmountable, and we struggle to see the way forward. But like the blind man, we are not alone. We have a Guide who leads us, a faithful companion who walks beside us, and a path that, though difficult, is navigable through trust, reason and faith.

As we reflect on the lesson of the blind man in the forest, let us consider our own spiritual blindness. Are we seeing but not perceiving? Hearing but not understanding? Let us turn our hearts fully to God, seeking His guidance and trusting in His Word. For in doing so, we may find that we can see more clearly than ever before – not with our eyes, but with our hearts.

In this upside-down world, where what we know to be true is often questioned, let us hold fast to the eternal truths of God’s Kingdom. Let us navigate the forest of life with the same determination and trust as the blind man, knowing that our true vision comes from God’s Spirit.  Only then, we’re not so blind after all.

 
Jeff Lawrence

Some say seeing is believing.  Yet in God’s Kingdom, believing is seeing.  It’s upside down.  An unlikely encounter with a blind man on a trail in the Rocky Mountains is a bold reminder of this truth.  Although blind, he was seeing far more than those who were rushing past him.  For the blind man was perceiving and understanding.  His blindness became a gift just as our presumptive sight becomes a curse.

Jeff Lawrence

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“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World

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