The word “blinders” often has negative connotations, but there is a positive and proper use of blinders. In the mountain town where I used to live, I remember the big Belgiumwork horses pulling sleighs loaded with hay. Attached to each horse’s head gear were blinders — big black wings cupping the horse’s eyes.
I used to think blocking part of a horse’s vision was mean. But my friend Sally, who knows horses, said, “It’s not mean at all. Blinders are useful tools and we have good reasons for using them. Because horses’ eyes are situated toward the sides of their heads, they have limited side vision. Sudden movements can frighten them, causing them to bolt or shy away.
“Also,” Sally continued, “it’s hard for horses to see what lies directly ahead, so blinders help a horse focus on its destination.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have spiritual blinders — blinders that would block out what might frighten us causing us to shy away from living for Christ while keeping us focused on our destination: completing a life lived in faith and purity to the Lord?
Shying at Shadows
Have you ever seen a horse shy? A rustle in a bush or a sudden movement can startle a horse send him fleeing so fast he can move right out from under a rider.
I have experienced startling assaults in my spiritual life, too. When a long-time friend came to Christ, I shared the great news with Christian friends. “The Holy Spirit led her to Christ,” one said. “Claiming you did it is the sin of pride.”
I was stunned. I’d expected other believers to rejoice and be encouraged. Instead, hurtful words came suddenly and unexpectedly. Sudden shadows — harsh words, anger, betrayal, criticism, misunderstandings, misinterpreted motives — can cause us to shy.
When Jesus experienced assaults from the shadows — the Pharisees opposing Him (Matthew 21:23), the crowd misunderstanding Him (John 6:15), even His disciples rebuking Him (Matthew 16:22) — He often retreated to spend time with His Father. Through prayer, Jesus could block out the words and deeds of those who would divert Him from His course and refocus on His Father’s will for Him. Jesus was putting on His spiritual blinders.
A good work horse isn’t tempted by juicy clumps of grass, but the mare I rode when I was a kid sure was. While sudden shadows might cause me to shy away, I choose to go off course for temptations. Covetousness. Envy. Gossip. Selfishness. A critical spirit. Materialism. Temptations attract me like green clumps of grass on the side of the road.
It’s time to put on my blinders.
Jesus faced temptations. In John 11:7-8, the disciples tempted Jesus to delay His trip to Jerusalem. And the cross.
When I’m tempted to pause along my path, I try to mentally block out what I see in this visible, physical world and re-focus on the invisible Christ. Then, as Paul put it, I can “fix [my] eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Distracted from Our Destination
I remember one clown in a parade allowing her horse to drift toward the curb to sniff and nibble at giggling children. But drifting toward distractions can be dangerous.
My husband, Hal, a highway patrolman, says the biggest danger to him is the inattention of other drivers. “If a driver stares at my patrol car, he’ll tend to drive straight toward it,” Hal says. “We drift toward what we focus on.”
Ephesians 2:10 tells us there are “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” But even church and Christian friends can draw us off course when asking us to join a ministry, teach a class, hold an office, lead a Bible study… If I’m not careful, taking on tasks God never intended for me can keep me from doing the work Christ has uniquely called me to accomplish.
In Acts 6, “…the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food” (vs. 1). The Twelve might have been distracted by this worthy cause, but they said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables” (vs. 2). They found others to carry out the ministry to the widows. These men had their spiritual blinders firmly in place and their eyes focused on the work God had uniquely called them to accomplish.
Spiritual blinders help me focus on the unique work God has called me to do — nothing more, so I will accomplish nothing less.
Dependent on the Handler
While blinders can help us focus, they also limit our vision causing us to be more dependent on our guide and handler. Limited vision forces us to wait for guidance and to trust the Handler’s course. But we can depend on Him to lead us past the scary shadows, beyond the sideline temptations, and through distractions. When we choose to put on blinders to outside influences, we are better able to “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) and walk straight toward Him, our destination.
Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.
Dianne E. Butts has written for over 50 Christian magazines and a dozen compilation books, most recently Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul II and A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Women. Her work has been printed in Great Britain, Bulgaria, Poland,Canada, and Korea. When she’s not writing, she enjoys riding her motorcycle with her husband, Hal, and gardening with her cat, P.C. They live in Colorado. www.DianneEButts.com