The LORD Alone Opens the Eyes of the Blind | PART 8, Navigating the New Life.

I asked God to take control of my life while I was alone in my apartment, because as a legally blind man I was ready to give up on myself. Then just a little later on the very same day I fell from the roof of my father's single story house resulting in two broken wrists and a 5% compression fracture to one vertebra -- What would be next? During my five week recovery period from the fall, I had the support of a wonderful family. I had most of my meals with my parents and the brothers and sisters who still lived at home. I am the fourth of eleven children, five boys and six girls. My parents had those eleven children together, and they were married for about 53 years before my father died in 1992. Four of the five boys have the hereditary condition of retinitis pigmentosa, but my eyesight probably declined more rapidly than the other three. I was never able to drive a car, while each of them had a license for a time, but was forced to stop driving as their eyesight deteriorated. I was the first one to use the Ohio Bureau of Services for the Blind to provide assistance and guidance in dealing with my sight loss.

None of my family new of my earlier decision to turn my life over to God, and none of them had an open faith that they shared with others as a source of reliable comfort, so there was no discussion of how God might work in my situation. I didn't have a church, though I had gone to Sunday school as a child, and I didn't know that I could effectively read and understand the Bible now that the Holy Spirit was present within. I didn't even know how my earlier decision had distinctively made me a Christian. There was so much I needed to learn about the Lord, and many changes I needed in my perspective about the standard for living that is presented throughout scripture. I was now made righteous in Christ, not by my own ability to be righteous or even good. The Lord was going to continue working behind the scenes for me because "the steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord." All that I might have judged to be either good or bad things happening to me over the next one and a half to two years could actually be worked to the Lord's glory by Him.

I became more confident and competent on the job with various assistive techniques and devices for sight loss, and I started to get involved in activities to learn more about the blind community. I began attending meetings of a local group for the blind, and this eventually led me into membership in the Springfield Lions Club that sponsored the monthly social meetings for the blind group. I began to date, considering that it might be good to find a partner for life so we could share our lives together. Through this period I did not know that the Lord was working in my heart to increase my desire to know Him through a deeper personal relationship. In August 1975 the Superintendent was promoted to a new staff position, and I was then promoted from Assistant Superintendent, to Superintendent of the Wastewater Treatment Plant for the City of Springfield. The Lord was again working in my behalf, but I was not yet aware enough to give to Him the praise for what He was doing.

Meanwhile on a parallel track, completely without my knowledge, Carolyn had a blind roommate in college. Through that friend she met a blind couple in Springfield, and they were part of the local blind group I had recently joined. Carolyn graduated from Cedarville College and began teaching in the Springfield area in the fall of 1975. This blind couple, the Normans, decided that mike and Carolyn should meet, so they invited us both to lunch on a Sunday afternoon in November. Yes, this was a "blind" blind date! Carolyn and Chet's guide dog were the only ones with normal eyesight. We became acquainted over several hours at the Norman's apartment, and then Carolyn offered to drive me back to my apartment. We talked and listened to music until she was ready to go to the evening service at her church. She asked if I wanted to go with her, and I saw no reason to refuse having additional time with her! That began a string of continuous Sundays that I attended church with Carolyn. Now the Lord was quietly working again, this time to provide the relationship of other Christians in a local church to promote my spiritual growth. Since Carolyn was convinced that I was truly born again (a predetermined requisite for her), she accepted my proposal for marriage in February of 1976 with a projected July wedding date. In April I was baptized and became a member of the church, and on July 17th that year Carolyn and I were married by our pastor.

So how does this all tie in with navigating a new life? Well, as I had learned at the rehab center for sight loss, a major component for successful travel (navigation) for a visually impaired person is to have good orientation to the area of travel before applying the specialized techniques. It is much easier to anticipate and deal with obstacles and hindrances when you have good advance information about the terrain. This is also true of the dangers of traveling in a world littered with obstacles of temptation and the hindrance of sin, and we all begin our journey of life spiritually blind and with sin that must be forgiven. Doing many good deeds, having an abundance of religious knowledge, or even holding a position of religious authority and honor before men does not deal with spiritual blindness. Isaiah spoke of the blind minds of those who had lost the special blessings that were intended for the children of Israel through faith. "9 Therefore is judgment far from us, neither does justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. 10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men." (Isaiah 59:9-10 AKJV). Until I accepted my physical blindness and made adaptations I could not adequately deal with it; and until a person accepts the fact that they are spiritually blind, they cannot have those eyes opened by saving faith in Christ Jesus. "39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said to him, Are we blind also? 41 Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you should have no sin: but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains." (John 9:39-41 AKJV).

I began to take in more of God's word through the solid teaching and preaching of our local church, and I obtained a set of 33 rpm records free to blind individuals courtesy of the American Bible Society. It probably took about a year for me to listen to the excellent recording of the King James Bible as read by Alexander Scourby. The total recording time is 72 hours, but I had to schedule that time in with my job and family responsibilities. I began listening more to Christian radio for music and various other Christian content programs, and even began to build up our personal music collection with Christian music. My next Bible (a gift from Carolyn's parents) was the NIV Bible on a set of 48 cassette tapes which was much more convenient to listen to on the Library of Congress variable speed tape player. I read through the entire Bible in just four months, and found the modern language of the NIV more readily understandable. Reading the Bible personally, listening to expository and exegetical teaching and preaching, and interacting as part of the body of Christ, are key components to that which the apostle Paul terms as "renewing the mind." Christian music also ministers to us through a soothing media that can direct our thoughts more toward God and His many blessings.

Our first son Tom was born in 1978, and Shaun was born in 1981. I gradually needed to make decisions about my available time, so in the early 1980's I left the Lions Club, then the local and national organizations of the blind: because I held offices of responsibility in each of these. My first Christian tract "The Lost and The Gospel" was written and printed in March 1982 and my personal testimony tract "Being Blind Improved My Life" was printed in December 1983. I am so thankful that the Lord God has provided His word and the fellowship of other believers so the Christian has the navigation tools needed to chart and follow Him until our time on earth is completed. These are inexhaustible resources for the Christian in the continually changing course of life. "5 Thus said God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which comes out of it; he that gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I the LORD have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will keep you, and give you for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. 8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images." (Isaiah 42:5-8 AKJV). Amen and amen!

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Published 7 August 2007