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The Invisible Gorilla

“so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” Matthew‬ ‭15‬:‭14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I remember the play vividly but I’m not sure if he does. Lined up, one of two players in the second to last row of our kickoff return team, my job was simple and well defined. 1) Under no circumstances could I touch the ball and, 2) Find the person closest to my general area wearing a different color jersey and deliver a bone-jarring hit to them.

The ball went high in the air and landed just a few feet behind me. The other team sprinted down the field in their kickoff lanes with eyes on the ball and on our star kick returner who averaged a few TD’s a game from anywhere on the field. My target came full speed down the right sideline and for some reason he failed to see my large frame just a few feet away. His focus was solely on the ball, forgetting the danger directly in front of him.


Upon running directly into me, he went four feet in the air and was perfectly horizontal to the grass below and blue sky above. His focus had been so intensely directed on the ball that he never saw the hit coming, a mistake he likely learned to never repeat again.

Eyes Wide Shut

In life, it’s easy for us to fall victim to this as well. We are focused on the promotion and miss seeing the negative work environment that comes with it. Our concentration is on winning the big game or client and we miss the signs that our teammate is struggling with a serious life issue. Or we get so wrapped up in our kids getting the right grades and going to the perfect school that we miss the chance to have life-giving conversations with them on what truly matters.

When we forget to stop, slow down, and remember what is most important we are blind to what God wants us to see. Make sure your eyes are open to what really matters.

How Did I Miss That?

In their book, The Invisible Gorilla, Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons share an experiment that demonstrates this phenomenon in daily life. They provided a short film of two basketball teams, one in white shirts and one in black shirts, and asked viewers to count how many passes were made by the white shirts only.

Highly focused on their task the viewers were unable to notice anything different going on in the background. Most notably, a woman dressed in a full gorilla suit walking onto the court, beating her chest and walking off over a period of 9 seconds. Yet nearly every viewer failed to notice.

As Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman writes in his famed book, Thinking Fast and Slow, “The gorilla study illustrates two important facts about our minds: we can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness”. [1]

The Blind Leading the Blind

As Christians, it’s important that we don’t fall blind due to the distractions of this world. It’s too easy to focus on the blinking lights of money, success, harmful temptations, mind-numbing dopamine-providing technology and so many other soul-sucking diversions.

Be honest, when was the last time you went anywhere, even into the next room over, without your phone? If you did, how many times did you do the phantom reach for your pocket to “check something”. We are consistently buzzing and bombarded with in some cases “good” distractions rather than focusing on what is “great” and life-giving.

Eyes on Me

““What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.

“My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭10‬:‭51‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When we understand that we need to reclaim our attention and to focus it upon God we no longer miss seeing what matters. As Jesus asked the blind beggar, “what do you want me to do for you?”, we must also ask this of ourselves.

Do we seek God and His Kingdom above our earthly needs? Can we put away selfish thoughts, anxious worries and tempting glances so that we can see what God is calling us to witness?

Open and fix your eyes on your Savior and don’t miss the blessed path He has put before you. Watch out for the blind side blocks and invisible gorillas out there. God has something much better for you to see anyway, so seek Him first and you won’t be disappointed.

[1] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow, pg. 24

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