He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, February 29, 2016

I Was Blind, But Now I See

I was reading an article recently about a blind man who walked the Appalachian Trail.  The story tells how during his journey with his German Shepherd dog, Orient, he fell thousands of times, cracking ribs and suffered from hypothermia as he forged rivers and raging waters.  He hiked the entire 2,100 miles, from Georgia to Maine.

He wasn’t always blind, but had eye surgery, as an adult, after a misdiagnosis of malignant melanoma.  As a sighted person, he drank a lot and smoked up to five packs of cigarettes a day, used drugs and was nearing despair!  But one day on top of Mount Katahdin, Maine he fell to his knees to pray.  

His life was changed, and he made the decision to walk the Appalachian Trail as a testament to his living faith.  He shared his faith as he stopped for food at grocery stores or did laundry at the laundry mat.  He also shared the Gospel with children he passed along the way.  With dedication to his faith, determination and set mind despite his handicap, he chose to not use maps or a compass, but relied entirely on his dog and his faith in God for guidance.1

            Having a set mind with determination and grit can take a person a long way.  I suggest however, that in our day to day lives, sometimes it takes more than resolve, purpose, fortitude or even grit.  Circumstances like health conditions, trauma, homesickness, grief, abuse, stressful events, and exhaustion can all be catalysts in the progression of depression.  When any kind of substance abuse is added, whether it be illegal drug use, alcohol or even prescribed pain medication, the “cup” is tilted and running over into a sinking chasm of despair. This is what happened to Mr. Irwin in his early life.

            Our lives are a journey which cannot be done alone.  It takes human companionship with those who will encourage, build up-or hold up, advise, share trials, and good times.  It’s a connection that must not be ignored, because the lack of it will cause an almost unbearable loneliness.

            Something greater than human companionship is the relationship with Christ.  This relationship is so important, to spend a single day without this communion is nothing less than critical!  We have an innate desire for friendship and fellowship and this desire is greatest for the Christ.  He demonstrates His wonder in the world around us, and His love through the gift of His sacrifice of life on the cross.  Once we come to know Him, there is no greater joy than communion with Him.  Bill Irwin learned this as a blind man, but could see clearer than many of us!

            Great peace and a heart that is full to overflowing fills our being when we stop to talk with the Father.  And when we also listen, He speaks to our hearts in ways beyond description, yet so real there can be no doubt. 

            So I challenge you to consider what it is you would most like to accomplish.  Have a set mind, with determination and grit, but also an inexpressible love for the God of the Universe. He is the Great Creator who can open doors humans cannot.  He is our source of strength, encouragement, wonder, power, guidance and so much more when we ask Him to be.