Seeing Through a Glass Darkly

Glass Darkly
 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

I shared some thoughts with you last week on the Obama farewell and next week I’ll discuss the Trump phenomenon which begins on Friday, January 20.

But today, I’d like to leave the larger world for a moment to share some personal thoughts. Two weeks ago, I made a change in life that many of you can relate to, but I’d never before experienced. I would describe that life alteration as “seeing through a glass darkly.”


Here’s the story which I hope encourages you.

My change? I’m now wearing glasses for the first time in my life. Early on, I had headaches every day and really struggled with double vision. When I dared to drive, I had to keep closing one eye to make sure which line was the real one that I needed to follow!  When I watched a football game, it was really weird seeing 44 men running around on the field instead of the normal 22. Which guy really had the ball?

The glasses I’m wearing are very thick–bigger than most. Even with them on, I can’t see very well. And when you add in the rounded corners on everything, blurry peripheral vision, sore spot on my nose, and the fact that I can’t see (!), you might want to get out your violin and play a pity-party song for me–while those of you with glasses shout “God Grief! What’s your problem? This is the way the real world looks!”

Well, it’s never looked this way to me before.

I was born with very poor eyes. In layman’s terms I’m 20/800: What what a normal person sees from 800 feet away (almost three football fields), I can see from 20 feet.

Pretty pathetic (violin again…) Essentially, I’ve been legally blind all my life. But there’s one huge caveat. I had the privilege of being born in the United States of America in the 1950s. When I was very young, my parents introduced me to a new invention.

Contact lenses.

It happened in 1963 when I was ten. Our family optometrist, Dr. Carl Alleger, was a Northwest pioneer in contact lens use and was beginning to experiment on children. My mom, brother, and I got our first pair together and really liked them.

I’ll never forget bursting out of his office and seeing the vibrant and amazing colors of the sky, the sharpness of the street signs, and how BIG the world seemed!  It was a miracle for me–and always made me feel like I had normal sight because I could read, play sports, and have no limitations.

I wore those contacts for over fifty years (no violin, just a trumpet sound). Well, not that actual pair. I’m sure I went through dozens of them. In fact, here are a few of the funnier memories:

  • I once lost a contact in a sand pile after jumping off a roof. Miraculously I found it, put it my hand and began to walk home to clean it, got distracted by a sandlot baseball game, forgot why I was going home, and lost the contact again.
  • One time I swallowed a contact. (My doctor said it was okay to clean them with saliva when no water was available. That became a lifetime habit, water or no water.) Fortunately, I found it a day later by going through the contents of a recent bowel moment.
  • I hate to admit it, but I once faked losing a contact during a basketball game because our team needed a time-out. So while I pretended to be looking for my contact on the hardwood, a few of the players met with the coach and came up with the next play. (I’ve asked God’s forgiveness for that one.)

Overall, my lifetime of contacts was a great blessing.

But a year ago, my doc told me I was beginning to get cataracts (cloudiness to the clear lens in each eye) and would need lens implants. They suck out your clouded lens with an ultrasound probe and then replace it with a new one–including vision correction. The entire surgery takes eleven minutes and presto–you can see!–no glasses or contacts (at least until you age some more).

People like me who’ve worn contacts a long time must let their eyes return to normal curvature before they can gauge the prescription and put in the implants. So, for the next three months I am “seeing through a glass darkly.” In April, I will get some new “headlights.”

What am I learning?

1. Eyes are amazing.

The eye is an unbelievable asymmetrical globe, about an inch in diameter, of which the outer part includes: an iris–the colored portion; cornea–a clear dome over the iris; pupil–the black circular opening in the iris that lets light in; sclera–the white of your eye, and conjunctiva–a thin layer of tissue that covers the front.

Just behind the iris and pupil lies the lens, which helps focus light on the back of your eye. Light projects through your pupil and lens to the back of the eye. The inside lining of the eye is covered by special cells–130 million light-sensitive rods and cones that convert light into chemical impulses. These signals travel at a rate of a billion per second to the brain.

2. The wonder of the human eye refutes evolution.

Charles Darwin described the eye as one of the greatest challenges to his theory. How could he explain it? The eye is simply incompatible with evolution. “To suppose,” he admitted, “that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances … could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree” (On the Origin of Species, p. 190).

The essential problem for evolutionists is how so many intricate components could have independently evolved to work together perfectly when, if a single component didn’t function perfectly, nothing would work at all.

“It is quite evident,” says scientist Francis Hitching, “that if the slightest thing goes wrong en route—if the cornea is fuzzy, or the pupil fails to dilate, or the lens becomes opaque, or the focusing goes wrong—then a recognizable image is not formed. The eye either functions as a whole, or not at all.”

That troubled Darwin. He famously said in 1860: “To this day the eye makes me shudder” (The Neck of the Giraffe, p. 86).

3. “The lamp of the body is the eye” (Matthew 6:22).

What we see and take into our lives is crucial. If we focus on God, virtue, noble things, then our life will be filled with goodness.  If we don’t, our real self become trapped in an evil and demoralizing darkness.

4. The invention of glasses changed the world.

The history books tell us that on 16th September 1284, the first wearable eyeglasses of metal lens were invented by an Italian, Salvino d’Armati. The British optician Edward Scarlett in 1727 invented the eyeglasses frame of modern style by putting arms on eyeglasses.

Thus, from the 13th century on knowledge began to double because the wise, learned people of the time could continue reading their books another twenty years or more.

5.  If I’d been born before the 13st century, my life would have been different.

As I look at the hundreds of books on the shelves in my office that I could not have read if I was born centuries ago, I’m deeply grateful for contacts and glasses. I would have been a blind dunce in another time period–cut off from knowledge. Corrective lenses saved my educational and vocational life.

6. When we are weak then we are strong.

I always wondered why people with glasses oftentimes seem more humble and circumspect. Now, I understand why. Living behind the barrier of glasses reminds you of the fish bowl of life, your need of basic help–even to see–and that weakness encourages humility. The Bible says that when we recognize our weaknesses, then we’re really strong (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).

7. Spiritual vision is the most important sight of life.

I also remember when I had spiritual cataracts–my view of God was blurred and clouded and life was dark. Then one day I met Jesus as my Savior and Lord and everything changed. He gave me vision for my life and eternity. John Newton describes it: “I once was lost and now I’m found; Was blind, but now I see.”

Right now my neck is getting sore from leaning toward the computer screen. The words are a little blurry and I hope I don’t make too many typos.

But I’m grateful for eyes, for sight and for godly tools that can aid us on earth.  I’m most glad that the Loving God of the universe sees me, loves me, and has given me the unimaginable vision of enjoying Him forever.

Makes it much easier seeing through a glass darkly. One day it will be face-to-face (with Jesus).

See that?


  1. Gerry on January 20, 2017 at 2:10 am

    Thanks for a some laughs, a "yuck", and an enjoyable article while sharing the truth of God's creation and not evolution. You'll be delighted to have 'new eyes' again. I got mine two years ago when both eyes suddenly developed cataracts. It was amazing to suddenly realize that as beautiful as a tree was/is, it actually has individual leaves!!!! Amazing!

    Love ya

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