Life is full of challenges of many kinds. For some, the most monumental ones present themselves a good ways down the road. In my case, life’s main challenge made itself known shortly after I was born and remains with me to this day. I am blind.
Doctors were never able to determine the exact cause for my blindness, and could do nothing to remedy it, but the impact of this disability was especially painful during childhood. One occasion stands out. I was seven. My family would read to me from the Bible, and I was accustomed to sometimes holding the book in my hands. Then my parents ordered a Braille Bible. Rather than a single volume, my fingers now touched a pile of 18 huge volumes. What’s more, each page had line after line of dots across it. I couldn’t comprehend how these seemingly meaningless dots could in any way be associated with the verses I listened to as my parents read to me from their Bible.
There were many other moments that brought home the reality of my situation, such as the inability to participate in many of the recreational activities of my peers, or being unable to fully understand conversations that were centered around color, fashion, and other things that require vision. There was also my greater need for assistance from others in day-to-day life … and the list goes on. The realization that I lacked a physical sense possessed by everyone else around me was a painful one.
Around the same time, my parents received a letter from some missionaries who had heard about me and had been praying for me. They had asked God for insight into my situation, and He had spoken to them. He told them it was certainly within His power to give me sight, but He planned to use me just as I was. He likened my situation to that of the apostle Paul, with his “thorn in the flesh,” described in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, and encouraged me to “walk by faith, not by sight.”[1 Corinthians 5:7]
This gave me a new perspective. My mother, the determined soul that she was, found a book about the Braille system and studied it until she was able to read Braille by sight. She then set to work on teaching me to read it with my fingers. It was a tedious task, but in a little over three months, I was reading.
The years that followed saw many other challenges and victories. I learned to play various musical instruments and have since used this gift to bring people into God’s kingdom.
When I was 20, my mother passed away and I found myself at the bottom of a deep valley. Although with time I managed to pull myself out of it, I failed to fully accept what had happened. Later, God drew my attention to the need to exercise more gratitude toward Him—not just when things were turning out right, but even regarding my losses.
When I did, through my tears, He in turn washed away my resentment, pain, and hurt in a flood of joy that cannot be explained in earthly terms. That was when the message contained in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We live by faith, not by sight,” took on a new meaning. Only after I “walked by faith”, through giving thanks for those things that I had previously not been able to thank God for, could I be rewarded with the marvelous gift of “seeing” with the soul, that would propel me into a deeper relationship with the One who knows, loves, and cares like no one else.
I am of the opinion that we all face a universal challenge: learning to look beyond what we perceive in the physical through eyesight or logic, and instead to see with the eyes of faith. The question isn’t whether or not we are capable of this, but rather whether or not we are willing to take it on. If we choose to allow the Creator to open the eyes of our soul and enhance our vision, we will find ourselves in a new and limitless world with endless possibilities.