Deer in Headlights

Ever wonder where the expression “deer in headlights” comes from? It comes from the animal’s bizarre behavior when confronted by the headlights of an oncoming car. The deer will freeze in place and stare straight ahead despite the obvious danger.


Science has revealed that this paralysis is not due to stubbornness, but to temporary blindness. Deer have more rods (light receptors) than cones (color detectors) in their eyes, which means they have superior night vision. Their pupils are fully dilated as darkness falls, so when a headlight beam strikes eyes that are already fully dilated to capture as much light as possible, deer cannot see at all, and they freeze until their eyes can adjust. They don’t know what to do, so they do nothing.


People can be like deer in headlights, too. When Elijah confronted the people of Israel with a choice between following Baal or God, 1 Kings 18:21 says: “the people said nothing.” They were as deer in headlights. Elijah was shining the light of truth in their eyes but they had grown accustomed to falsehood. Their eyes had become adjusted to the low light of Baal and when the bright beams of Jehovah were upon them, they couldn’t see at all. They didn’t know what to do, so they did nothing.


Where are you being as a deer in headlights today? Is God shining a light on some attitude or habit that is paralyzing you in place? Are you frozen in fear of giving your all to Him? Or, like Israel on Mt. Carmel, are you being blinded by the light of Truth, and preferring the low light in the darkness? (“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil,” John 3:19.)


The world is getting ever darker and, more than ever before, it is dangerous to be paralyzed by satan’s confusing lights. Too many of us are staring into every light except the light of God’s word, and in the process, our eyes are getting adjusted to oncoming death.


Don’t go into the light. Not the light of satan’s distractions and temptations. Keep your eyes on Jesus and move with Him out of harm’s way.


Randy Maxwell