The LORD Alone Opens the Eyes of the Blind, PART 7
When You Hit Rock Bottom

Personal expectations help to define for each person just what they believe is "rock bottom" for their life. An outside observer might not think the situation for someone else should be quite so difficult to accept, or that it could be much worse. But when hope has diminished past the reserve capacity of coping, the stresses of life can be mountainous to overcome to reverse the trend. Such was the case for me after some personal matters began to dissolve at a time when my confidence on the job had also begun to dissipate. When I first returned to work after the rehab training had concluded in March of 1974, I had renewed hope that I could stay on the job even with my legal blindness, but the weekly routines of life can gradually wear down the resources of the human spirit. I lived in an apartment by myself, and personal matters off the job by late May brought me to the lowest point of depression that I had ever experienced. I was just about to give up on everything, but thoughts of my family, especially my father, kept me from taking a foolish course of action.

Let's back up just a bit to 1968 when my brother Bob and I built his house. We were both at the threshold of legal blindness, but we did the framing, walls, doors, windows, and roof for his house. This experience gave Bob the determination in 1974 that he and I would be the ones to re-roof Dad's house so Dad would not need to attempt to be on the roof. So I left my apartment and walked the several blocks over to my parents house. Dad knew I did not have the best frame of mind that weekend in May, so he cautioned me not to go onto the roof while he and Mom were out of town unless I was sure I would be alright. After I had some lunch I went onto the roof and moved close to the edge to start another row of shingles. Loose grit from the old shingles caused me to loose footing and I slipped feet first off the roof. I blacked out before I hit the ground from this single story house. I was trying to get up from lying flat on my back as some of my sisters gathered around me. I couldn't use either hand and I tried to shake off what I thought was just a sprain. My sister Mary finally convinced me to let her drive me to the hospital where I was admitted with two broken wrists and a slight fracture to my back. When my parents returned, they visited me in the hospital and I could hear the pain in Dad's voice as he quietly said, "I told you not to get on the roof." All I could say was I know Dad, I know. I was in the hospital for four days, and when I was released, my youngest brother Richard came to stay with me in my apartment for a few weeks since I had casts on both arms from the hand to the elbow, and had virtually no strength in either hand for performing common routines. One morning as I awoke, I could not feel or move my legs. I lay there for a moment wondering if the compressed vertebrae had damaged my spinal cord to paralyze me from the waist down. There I was, legally blind, with two broken wrists in casts, and now I couldn't move my legs! I decided to try moving my upper body to stir some life back into my legs, and after awhile I was able to move them again.

This seems like a good place to apply the term "rock bottom," but actually it may not be an apt description of my situation because I had earlier made a choice that was much greater in significance than it had seemed at the time. Alone in my own apartment, just a few hours before I fell from the roof, I had turned my life over to God with a prayer something like "if you are really there take control because I can't handle it anymore." That point was actually my "rock bottom," but also my new beginning. I didn't fully understand what I had done, but my soul was crying out for help. Throughout my life, I could never quite believe that religious effort could earn the right to heaven; but I also couldn't accept any alternative to heaven, or to being religious to reach heaven. As I sat by myself in my apartment, I was feeling that I had nothing left in my life to offer to God. So, my only choice was complete surrender to Him. From that point of simple surrender to God, I gradually gained confidence in Christ. Even during the recovery from the broken wrists, I was being comforted in my inner being in ways that had not been previously available to me. This was perhaps my "Elijah in the wilderness" experience now that I belonged to the Lord, because the outward signs seemed to belie the truth that He cared for me. "1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and with how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. 5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said to him, Arise and eat. 6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again." (1 Kings 19:1-6 AKJV)

The physical loss of my eyesight that I experienced brought me to Christ. I lost something that I could not keep beyond death, and I gained eternal life that I can never lose! The improvement in my life is not just a hope for eternity, although eternal life in itself is worth losing one's physical life completely! God knows that we have many needs even now, and his word says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you." Too many times we concentrate on our physical conditions, and forget that there is an eternal home of far greater importance for focusing our thoughts. "5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he said to him, Will you be made whole? 7 The weak man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steps down before me. 8 Jesus said to him, Rise, take up your bed, and walk. 9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath." (John 5:5-9 AKJV) After thirty-eight years with no muscle development and no accompanying coordination, this man was immediately and totally healed of his debilitating infirmity with no physical therapy needed! "Afterward Jesus finds him in the temple, and said to him, Behold, you are made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come to you." (John 5:14 AKJV) Would another thirty-eight years of being largely helpless be a "worse thing," or is Jesus warning that the worse thing is to remain in sin when there is a way to have it cancelled? And the one able to give that gift of forgiveness of sin is the one who verified His power by the miraculous healing. I am so very thankful that I found the rock of my salvation in Christ, to be saved by grace through faith and have my sin forgiven. What a joy to be able to say with king David, "The LORD lives; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation." (2 Samuel 22:47 AKJV) Praise the name of the Lord Jesus forever!

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Published 7 August 2007