“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa
About a month ago, as I write this, Maplewood UMC’s own Brent and his friend Mike, who also attends MUMC, had an amazing adventure. The two of them went skydiving. What makes this even more remarkable is that Brent and Mike are blind. Personally, I can’t imagine blind skydiving. Then again, I can’t imagine skydiving at all. I don’t get along with heights. The thought of cleaning gutters fills me with dread. I can’t imagine jumping out of an airplane under any circumstances, let alone for enjoyment. The threat of death might compel me but that’s about all. Instead it would be, for me, a truly terrifying experience. And yet, Brent and Mike plummeted 10,000 feet—nearly two miles—while blind and they enjoyed it.
I shared my trepidation with Brent and he replied, simply, “Be blind.” Interesting advice: “Be blind” to the altitude. “Be blind” to how far away the ground is. “Be blind” to how small everything looks.
Faith is, in a sense, about “being blind.” Brent and Mike had faith in their instructor, in the people who packed their parachutes and inspected their gear, and in the pilot of the plane. There are many examples in the Bible of when God’s people had to ignore what their eyes told them—“be blind”—and trust God. One such example comes from the life of the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 6:8-23).
Syria was at war with Israel and several times Elisha warned the king of Israel about their tactics. The king of Syria found out what was happening and that Elisha was in the city of Dothan. The king sent an army, which surrounded the city at night. The next morning, Elisha’s servant saw the army and he was dismayed. But Elisha told him, “‘Don’t be afraid, for our side outnumbers them.’” (vs. 16b ESV). Then he prayed, “‘O Lord, open his eyes so he can see.’” (vs. 17b ESV). Suddenly, the servant saw horses and chariots of fire on the hill around Elisha. Then Elisha prayed for God to cause the Syrian army to become blind. When they approached, he told them they were in the wrong place and pretended to lead them to the man they were seeking. He led them to Samaria and then asked God to open their eyes. Then they saw that they were surrounded. Elisha told the king of Israel to give them food and drink and send them back to the king of Syria. After that, Israel had no more trouble from the Syrians.
The men of the Syrian army were blind but so was Elisha’s servant. He couldn’t see the army of God that surrounded him and Elisha. He had to “be blind” to the physical army of Syria before he could see the spiritual army of God. In much the same way, we often don’t see God at work around us. Hundreds of years after the time of Elisha, another man of God would write these words: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2 ESV). In other words, Paul decided to “be blind” to everything except Christ.
And of course we all remember the story of Peter walking on the water (Matt. 14:23b-33). Late one night, Jesus came to the disciples, walking on the Sea of Galilee. Peter saw him and said, “‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’” (vs. 28b ESV). Peter was all right at first but the thought of what he was doing finally overwhelmed him. He was fine as long as he was “blind” to the wind and the waves. But as soon as he took his attention off Jesus and considered his external circumstances, he began sinking.
John wrote “. . . he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4b ESV). In other words, “Don’t be afraid, for our side outnumbers them.” Just as Elisha and his servant saw an army from God that was greater than the Syrian army, we have a God who is greater than our circumstances, a God who outnumbers anything we might face. That doesn’t mean things won’t be frightening or disturbing. It doesn’t mean there won’t be pain or loss. Knowing God is in charge doesn’t guarantee there will be a “happy ending.” But it does mean we won’t be alone. All we have to do is “be blind” and have faith.
“He replied, ‘Don’t be afraid, for our side outnumbers them.’ Then Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so he can see.’ The Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw that the hill was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:16-17 ESV.)
Copyright © 2012 by David Phelps