The Tunnel

I need to begin with a confession. For the most part, I’ve gone about business as usual, but something dark and dangerous has been festering below the surface.

I haven’t been keeping my eyes on Jesus. As the end-of-the-year papers, exams and deadlines began piling upon my desk, I defaulted into tunnel vision. Responsibilities and duties at both home and school felt all-consuming. In times like these, stealing a moment with a gadget or a hobby seems fairly innocuous. Our culture even promotes and accepts this distract-o-vision for health reasons. We’re all guilty of it. It’s just a fact of life, right? But so is death.

After dinner the other night, I shrugged off Memorial Day and headed to school to finish some work. I marked exams and shoved staplers and highlighters into boxes. I squeezed answer keys into file folders and compacted file folders into file cabinets. And, yes, to give my spirit a little room, I sipped on a hot coffee while I listened to a freshly burned CD of house music. A student shared it with me before he left for summer.

As I was trudging through my workload that night, I found myself thankful for how the electronic rhythms pulsated through the speakers because the music set a comfortable pace for me to punch those final, culminating grades into the numeric keypad.

The music was a welcome distraction, too, because the last few weeks of life and school have been challenging. With too many piles on my desk, figuratively speaking, I’ve allowed worrying and fretting to usurp any free time I could find. In essence, I was popping a musical pill to help me focus.

I can usually count on a steady downbeat of anxiety to loop through my daily tunnels. Anxiety in some shape or form is one of my big battles. Though I don’t suffer from a profound and debilitating anxiety, it can still strike at any moment. Suddenly, I’m living in a dark, unventilated house —

built on the San Andreas fault line.

No one wants to feel trapped in that kind of geography. And so distractions and solutions grow attractive. However, once they find a place in our pockets, they fit like idols.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that a random CD of techno music deserves to be blamed for sin and corruption of the soul. The problem goes deeper than that. It goes to our vision. And to our need for escapism.

The point is that I fill my time, even when measured in minutes, with distractions. It’s so easy to place a meal of prayer on the back burner. It keeps warm for awhile, but it cools in the time it takes to click on the next breaking story on CNN. And if I’m pulling candy from my pockets, the kettle cools without any notice. Meanwhile, I’m forced to cope with the cycling of sugar crashes. And before I know it, I’m feeling bloated and heavy.

Of course, I know the solution: I’m commanded to cast my burdens upon Jesus. But when I read that verse or hear it spoken to me as encouragement, it usually arrives with the weight of a flimsy paper airplane sent on a well-intentioned rescue mission. The words don’t feel exactly helpful or practical because I can’t visualize how they make any difference. So though I long for a better diet, I remain trapped in the same bad habits.

But then Jesus revealed something helpful to me: I carry my burdens in my eyes.

Understanding the weight of my eyes made it clear that I need to let go of any distraction or obsession of focus which prevents me from seeing Him. I’ve never understood the mystery of handing Him a carry-on bag of burdens for Him to stow away somewhere. But now I am learning about stopping and then casting my eyes into His. That’s how letting go begins: in vision.

So why don’t I turn to Him more often? Why don’t I make a moment matter — and count — for eternity? What prevents me from fully casting my frustrations and challenges upon His yoke? Because I’m distracted and free-falling in tunnel vision? Because I’m holding on too tightly?

If I am to cast my burdens upon Him, then I must cast my EYES upon Him. I must consume my vision with Him. I must do a better job of making time for prayer and holy Presence. If I can find time to click play for a CD of house music, then I can find time to enter God’s house, even if only by speaking the name of Jesus aloud before I enter more data into the computer.

“Lift up your eyes,” He calls to us in Isaiah 40:26, because there is a promise stowed away for those who surrender through their eyes.

Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:31

Let’s get out of our tunnels and cast our vision into this Living Water. We will find all the Presence we need.

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