Clarity in the Midst of a Changing World and Uncertain Times.
Clarity, "to make clear". Clarity has become a hot topic, a popular word in leadership vernacular. Everyone seems to want clarity in their personal lives and even demand clarity from their leaders. A clear view, or visionary leadership is important but what happens when the sure minded individual or the leader extraordinaire doesn’t know which way to go next. Let’s be honest.....in a perfect world everyone has 20/20 vision but this is not a world without imperfection. What if God chooses to make the way unclear? What if you must start walking by faith and not by sight? What if his plan for you turns from one of clarity to one where you must walk step by step every day? In an age where change is becoming more rapid and the storms of life seem more severe how can we still find our way? When the winds howl and the lightning strikes, when the rain is as blinding as an East Texas gully washer what do you do?
In 2002, Jill and I had our first child. We had a beautiful baby girl. What a blessing. When she was 2 to 3 months of age we realized that something was wrong with her eyes. We took her to an ophthalmologist and found that our little girl was blind. It took 6 months and numerous tests before we found her blindness was due to a genetic problem. She has what is known as Lebers Congenital Amaurosis or LCA. We were told that we had a one in four chance with each pregnancy and that there is no treatment. In November 2006 we were blessed with a little boy. Within a few weeks it became clear to us that he also had LCA.
Even though the first year or two was difficult to deal with, my wife and I have come to know that we are blessed. Both of our children are healthy and have no other problems related to their blindness. They are both bright children and delightful. God has given us two living, breathing, illustrations of walking by faith and not by sight.
An absence of clarity is exactly what my children have. Metaphorically they are like many children of God...."they see the light", but there is absolutely no clarity. I have asked my little girl many times, "What does Daddy look like to you"? Her answer from the very beginning has been "You look like a blob daddy". My children have absolutely no clarity but they do see light, shadows and areas of extreme contrast. They are able to see the line where a white tile floor becomes a dark colored carpet. To survive in a very unclear and changing world they have developed four modifications in their behavior. They do not despise the changes or the uncertainty but instead have made adjustments. These modifications have helped them go forward. I believe that these modifications can help anyone who is unclear of Gods direction during the uncertainty of storms and changing times.
Turn to the Light
My little girl uses what she has! We must all learn to use what we have. A wise man once said “It’s not what you have that makes you great, but what you do with what you have". Since she can see light she uses light to get a bearing and use as a standard for movement. She can come back to that light and know where she is in relation to everything else around her. It is the same in our lives. We must use what we have. You have seen the light, so use the light, and use what you know to be true. Truth is always truth. You may see it from a different angle, but it is still the same truth. What are your "Lifetruths"? Don't abandon them in a crisis of vision, but stick with them. These are principles that God has laid down for your life in his Word. The world may look different than it did 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, but the gospel is still true and it’s still saving souls. If you know something to be absolutely true it will always be absolutely true. My daughter has two categories for light. They are "God light" and "Man light". She learned early on that the light that comes from God’s creation is more trustworthy, but light that man has made can be easily turned off or moved. Unfortunately, many have built their lives and ministries on what they assumed to be true light but it was manmade light or a mirrors reflection. My little girl often goes by mirrors and says "Daddy, what is that light coming from that room"? She sees the light but doesn't know it is a reflection. If she were to walk toward that light she would crash. Follow the true light; use it to get your bearings and don't settle for manmade light or mere reflections. Jesus is the Light of the World and the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
Take Your Time
My little girl takes forever to do a number of daily things. Many of you parents can sympathize with what I am saying but this is even more than that. Allison has learned that if she goes fast and collides with something it hurts more than if she was going slowly. So, one of her modifications is that she has learned to walk in a way that gives her the most speed with the least amount of pain. Just like an apex is the fastest speed at which a car can go through a curve without hitting anything, Allison has developed an apex for travelling without a clear view. This speed is sloooooww. If you don't have clarity in life you could go ahead and put the pedal to the metal and travel a hundred miles an hour if you wanted. Frequently you will hurt yourself and others in the process. How many times have we felt "pressure" to make a quick decision because everyone was waiting or because "That's what good leadership does"? Did you ever think that God wanted them to wait, and he was expecting you to wait on him to show you the way before you made a decision? Did it ever cross your mind that God was trying to use you to teach people who are immersed in a "Drive-thru" culture to learn the forgotten Christian virtue called patience? Maybe a lack of vision in life, family, ministry, company, job, etc. is God reminding us that patience means to "wait on the Lord". Don’t come to hasty judgments about things you don’t understand or when you don’t know what’s going on around you. Let the Lord show you how things really are. When you can't see its best to go slow!
Trust His Voice
God had to slow Elijah down. Elijah was emotionally spent and thought he was the only one still serving. God got him alone in a cave, showed him some grand things and then "a still small voice". So many times I am blinded by my ambitions, my visions, my accomplishments, my victories, my disappointments, my defeats, my voice, and the voice of others. I fail to see that I am exhausted and in a bad state of mental being. Sometimes I become so wrapped up in a God given vision or message that I forget that there may be more to come. My first vision seems to be running out of gas. Like Elijah, despite my past victories, suddenly it seems my enemies are overtaking me and I wonder if God really knows what he is doing. God takes away my certainty. He does not need me to understand what he is specifically doing. He strips me of everything that might say "I'm in control, I know what’s going on, and I’m in charge". This is almost debilitating, however, it is only when I come to that place that I am qualified to lead. It is then that I am ready to listen to His voice, it is then that I am reminded I need him and there is nothing I can do without him.
When walking in a crowded room or a place where furniture has been rearranged, Allison has learned to listen more intently to my voice. She trusts that my eye is on her. She knows my voice in a special way. She has learned to depend on and trust my voice. She knows I love her and want no harm to come to her. If I call out to her through the noise in a gentle voice, "Allison, stop". She hears my voice in spite of the crowd, and she stops. She knows she cannot see and that I can. Many children would keep walking or running until their parents chase them, but not Allison. She knows her daddy's eyes are on her, and she listens to my voice. Maybe, it is time again to remember that we are blind and that it is God who sees. Maybe you have started to think it is you who does the seeing. Maybe things shouldn’t get crowded or people shouldn’t move furniture, but that is unrealistic. It’s time again to trust his grace and not our ability. In the midst uncertainty and changing times rather than trust my ability or memories of how things were its best to trust His Voice.
Take His Hand
There is something special about holding hands. I can still remember the first time that I held my wife's hand. I can only imagine how special it is for someone who is blind to hold the hand of a sighted loved one. There is incredible safety, an easing of the mind and heart. A voice brings comfort, gives direction but is gone. Was it real or was it my imagination? Was God really speaking to me or was it my own thoughts ringing in my mind? Holding hands is a constant contact.
Allison was not very old when we realized that she was doing something unusual. To our amazement her fourth modification was to interpret what we were doing subconsciously with our hands. When we were stepping up on a curb we would raise our hands slightly before we got to them. She was alert to our movements and began stepping up before we could tell her there was a step. She knew by the movement of our hands when we wanted her to walk in front of us, to walk behind us, to go right, to go left, to stop, to back up, to duck, and to step down. To this day we can guide her through a very crowded or small area and she will not run into anything at all. She is so good at it that while holding our hands most people never notice that she is blind. When your way is unclear and your path is uncertain....take your Father's hand. Keep constant contact with him and know him so well that you can discern the very intimations of his will. This isn’t something you learn by going to church once, twice, three times a week. This knowledge comes only from an experience gained by walking with the Lord daily. When my child wants to hold my hand without saying anything and without knowing where I am she stretches out her little arm and hand. Sometimes it’s in the wrong direction, but like a good Father that doesn’t stop me.
Psalm 139:10 "Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."
Isa 42:6 "I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee."
If you would like to learn more about LCA or think you may know someone that has LCA and it hasn’t been diagnosed please go to http://1sttouch.org/project3000.html.
If you would like to read more about Jonathon and Jill Smith’s story you can visit http://sightisfortheblind.blogspot.com/