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Posts Tagged ‘blindness’

pexels-photo-461252There we were on Christmas day, waiting for the rest of the family to arrive. I had put some cherries out for us to enjoy and offered one to our three-year-old granddaughter.

‘These are lovely, Maxine. Would you like one?’ I said.

She gazed at them for a moment, then came out with this profound statement.

‘I don’t like cherries because I’ve never had them before!’

Now that obviously made complete sense to her. After all, surely if her parents hadn’t given them to her before this, then those funny red things with stems must be yucky! I remembered too the response of one of our own children, when faced with eating something they hadn’t tasted previously. ‘I won’t like it!’ they would say, obviously fearful of what lay ahead.

Sadly, I suspect I can be like Maxine at times, or that child of ours.  Often I can be very picky—but more so with books than food.  I may find myself turned off by a cover I dislike or the quality of the paper or the size of the print. I don’t mind small print, but I do object when a large font is used and those lines are spread so far apart and the margins are so wide, making that book too insubstantial for me and not worth the money I paid for it! Yet some smaller books I own have turned out to be absolute gems, such as Henri Nouwen’s Out of Solitude or Eugene Petersen’s The Wisdom of Each Other.

Much sadder than pre-judging books, however, are the times I have pre-judged people because of their appearance or something different about them. The biggest lesson I learnt in this regard occurred around twenty-five years ago when I met a young woman at a prayer training course. At first, after discovering she was blind, I avoided her. I felt I would not know how to relate to someone who could not see. And, to my shame, I was reluctant to put myself out to help her. Yet God drew us together—and that young woman taught me so much about myself, about courage, about perseverance, about relating to those who suffer from any degree of vision impairment.

A few years later, I found myself at another course where most participants were from a different part of the Body of Christ. ‘They won’t be able to teach me anything much,’ I decided in complete arrogance. Yet their kind acceptance, attentiveness and intelligent conversation turned out to be a wonderful, healing gift from God for me.

Now I’m hoping there aren’t too many others of you out there like me who are practised pre-judgers.  I hope you taste those cherries or look carefully at those smaller books before making up your mind. I hope you listen to and accept others, however different they are. And I hope I do too more and more. But above all, if Jesus Christ is someone unfamiliar to you, I hope and pray that, in the coming year, you may not pre-judge or write him off too quickly but instead take time to get to know him, to experience his amazing love and to taste his absolute goodness for yourself.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

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For some reason, I can’t say I always enjoy phoning up people, even if they are well known to me.  Firstly, I don’t like the thought of interrupting them in whatever they are doing, but more importantly, I can’t always tell by the conversation that ensues, exactly how they are feeling.  Over the years, I’ve learnt to look at people’s faces and especially their eyes, to try to discern how they are actually travelling – whether they are tired or sad or worried or whether they are doing well and are at peace with the world.  I might come to the wrong conclusions, but at least it gives me much more of a clue than merely hearing someone’s voice on the phone. 

Of course the tone of our voice does often convey quite a bit  – I may pick up at least some degree of tiredness or discouragement or joy or excitement through a phone conversation.  On the other hand, meeting face to face with someone means we can not only see their expressions and reactions but also take note of actual body language.  And occasionally we can just sense in some way too, irrespective of what we see and hear, whether a person is bothered by something.  But beyond even that, I do believe God can give us insights on occasions into another’s heart so that we can help them move forward into greater wholeness.  I have experienced that in counselling with others and have also been on the receiving end myself of such ‘words of knowledge’ or whatever one might choose to call them.  I remember one occasion when I was sitting with a friend of mine who happens to be blind during a training course.  I was worried about something in the course, but hadn’t said anything.  I was simply sitting near her but not touching.  And of course she couldn’t see me.  Yet suddenly she said to me: It’s okay, Joey – you don’t have to worry about it!  To this day I can’t honestly say whether some sense or intuition, heightened by her blindness, caused her to have that insight, or whether God prompted her and gave her the words to say.  Knowing my friend, I suspect the latter, but either way it was a very comforting moment for me.

God can prompt us in this way because he is all-knowing, all-powerful and ever present.  He sees us ‘face to face’ every day of our lives, as it were – he knows my very thoughts and is ‘familiar with all my ways’, as Psalm 139:3 says.  And one day I too will have the amazing privilege of seeing him face to face and will understand so much more:

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

That blows my mind.  How about you?

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