about tunnel vision skillz

I spent well over half of the past nine years working in restaurants. I like to think I was pretty good at it. I was Employee of the Month at one of them and still have the shirt somewhere to prove it. By the time I quit working in restaurants, I was the girl who could take between ten and twenty orders at a time without writing them down and get them all correct. Working as a hostess/busser/server/bartender taught me a lot of skills I’ve been able to use in everyday life, as strange as that may seem. Things like: anticipating what people were going to do or say next; knowing what’s going on around me without having to look up; focusing on facial expressions and tones of voice to remember specific conversations; knowing how to handle drunks, jerks, hecklers, and sexual harassers; and multitasking like you wouldn’t believe. I also learned how to make a darn good mojito, but that’s probably irrelevant for this blog.

One of the first lessons I learned was that tunnel vision is bad, bad, bad. Instead of focusing on going from the server station to the expo counter to the table to the dish pit and back again, I was taught to stay alert to everything going on around me. If someone walked in the front door and needed to be greeted, I should see him and greet him. If there was trash on the floor, I should see it and pick it up. If a guest at another server’s table needed a refill, I should see it and take care of it. Let me tell you: this is an easy lesson to learn for someone with rabid ADD, so I learned it quickly and I learned it well. Almost every job since that first restaurant has required my anti-tunnel vision skillz.

So here’s what God’s telling me lately: Forget all that. Get tunnel vision.

In a previous blog, I shared my Chazown–the very specific vision God gave me for my life. The writing, the speaking, all of that. I also shared how God led me to quit my job and send support letters asking for people to be a part of this vision by supporting us financially while I write. It was a very clear vision he gave me, and as I’ve followed him, the peace I have with all of it is astounding. And when I’m in tunnel vision mode, God’s vision is all I can think about. I’m committed.

But then all these “opportunities” started coming up. Well-meaning people with offers of jobs or suggestions that don’t fit into the vision God gave me. In fact, they would pull me far away from that very vision I was following when all this started. The offers and suggestions play on my need for financial stability and job security and health insurance and pride and others’ approval and, well, basically everything that contradicts faith. All these things might make sense, but choosing them is like me saying to God, “I trust in you, kinda’, but just in case, I’ll have this fallback plan.” God keeps reminding me he doesn’t need a Plan B and neither should I. He keeps telling me to have tunnel vision. Focus on his vision and block out anything else.

Remember Acts 20:18-25?

“[Paul] declared, “You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now I have done the Lord’s work . . . I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus. And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again.”

God gave Paul a vision very early on: to be the Apostle to the Gentiles, to share the Gospel with everyone, regardless of whether they were Jews or Gentiles. Several times, Paul’s friends and followers discouraged him from going to Jerusalem, knowing they would never see him again. But he clung tight to the vision, the Chazown, God gave him and pressed forward. Even when it didn’t make sense, Paul kept his tunnel vision. He wasn’t distracted by well-meaning people with logical opportunities.

That’s my prayer for us this morning. God, give us tunnel vision.