Theology in the Trenches: ‘Be Thou My Vision Lord’

Kathleen Kjolhaug
Religion Columnist

The sacred words of the old hymn had been making their way through my mind repeatedly for some time now, “Be Thou My Vision Lord.” I loved those words, and one day, they jumped to life as I was literally looking to see more clearly. 

You see, the glasses I’d been wearing were over seven years old now, and well overdue for replacement, but I kept putting it off.

I’d been faithful in getting my eyes checked every couple of years, but thinking I could see “good enough,” I never filled the prescription. Making yet another appointment, I was soon in and out of the check-up in no time. The clinician at the testing center had been able to show me the distinct difference between my current prescription and my new needs. As things came clearly into focus, my sight improved drastically and what a difference it was!

Now for the fun part, I was going to get to pick out a new pair of glasses! Dashing through the store like a one horse open sleigh, I managed to try on pretty much all of the frames that appealed to me and then some. I began to get excited and my thoughts ran wild. How on earth am I supposed to pick only one, I should perhaps get two! As I normally wait about seven years or more between pairs, I was feeling quite justified!

The excited crowd within the clinic just never stopped energizing, with the loudest cheers coming from the sales committee upon the floor. Assuring me they did not work on commission, I slowly worked up a trust level and soon, their opinion mattered greatly. Fun we all did have as I spent the better part of the day just dawdling over multiple choices.

Finally, I made my decision and placed the order. Two pairs it would be!

Within a week I was able to return for the much coveted specs that would soon be upon my face. Trying on the first pair, I marveled at how much better my vision truly was. Concise were the words I was reading, and my ability to decipher the fine print upon the sign clear across the street was impressive. The second pair took some adjusting, but in time, the room came into view.

Once home, I marveled at myself in the mirror, but ... oh wait. Why, I had no idea that there were that many divot like gullies making their way around my upper lip! And those fine lines under my eyes were now quite visible as I could now see with clarity.

Bemoaning the fact that I’d actually given up the older lenses which apparently had filter like qualities, I began to have buyer’s remorse. That’s when the horrid thought came. These older little gems had been protecting me from seeing a much harsher reality for years! 

The new reality was that I had just paid a higher premium for the little truth tellers. Now, instead of praying, “Be Thou my vision Lord,” I pray, “Be Thou my discernment, Lord.” This clarifies vision which truly matters. For the definition of discernment is something I too, hold dear.

“Help me to see things how You see things, and now how I perceive them to be.” Amen. 

(Kathleen Kjolhaug is a religion columnist.)