I Can Be Your Eyes

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When Mark and I first started dating, he revealed to me that he had an eye disease called RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa). There is no cure and it is a progressive eye disease which eventually leads to blindness. Being married to someone with a progressive eye disease brings a whole new dynamic to a marriage. Part of my wedding vow to Mark should have read “I promise to watch out for you and not let you walk into those yellow ‘Wet Floor’ signs. I promise to steer you clear of lolly-columns and telephone poles. And when we are climbing around the rocks near the ocean, I promise to save you from stepping off the ledges into the water.” Being Mark’s “Seeing Eye Wife” (and I told him that I refuse to wear the harness that you see service dogs wearing!!), I sometimes feel as though I’ve stepped out of the role of being his wife and stepped into the role of being his mother or caregiver. We’ve had many conversations about his continued loss of vision and what our future will look like. I’ve told him that I want him to be totally honest with me when he feels as though I am hovering over him too much or keeping him back from doing something he wants to do. Recently, while we were visiting one of our favorite falls in Maine, I asked him if I was being too cautious. Mark told me that if I see he’s headed for danger, he most definitely wants me to warn him (well, duh!) and that he trusts me to keep him safe. He relies on me to see for him, to be his eyes in dark restaurants or other places, to warn him when he’s headed for something that will cause him harm.
While I was thinking about my role as his additional set of eyes, the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Isn’t that kind of what I do for you?” God sees what’s ahead for us and does what He can to protect us from pain and heartache. Instead of a cane or seeing eye dog, God gives us His word to direct us and keep us on a safe path.

Psalm 119:105 says:

thy word

And sometimes, I get distracted by something shiny and forget that Mark is relying on me to make sure his path is clear of any obstacles. Only when he bumps his shin or runs into something am I brought back to what I was supposed to be focusing on: his safety and what’s ahead of him! Isn’t that the same thing that happens to us believers when we take our eyes off what we should be focusing on? And then when something in life comes our way because of our lack of focus, we realize that if we had just been listening to that still small voice or had been using the “lamp/light” (His Word) that has been given to us, we may have avoided this pain or obstacle.

What a comfort knowing that God sees further down the road than we do. What a comfort that our loving Father sees that the pain and heartache that we are experiencing now and knows that there is greater purpose that will one day be revealed to us. And what a comfort to know that God never gets distracted and forgets to be our “eyes”! What a comfort to know that one day, when Mark arrives in Heaven, his eyesight will be perfect!

And now I need to go because goodness knows what type of mischief Mark has gotten into because I haven’t been keeping an eye on him.

Do you smell smoke?

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One of my all time favorite things to do is to sit around our fire pit in our backyard or the campfire while we are camping.  And usually, for the next few days the smell of the fire and smoke stay with me even after washing my hair a number of times.  I have a love/hate relationship with the smell of smoke.  When I do catch a whiff of the lingering smell of smoke in my hair, it brings back the memories of sitting around the fire with family and loved ones.  But then, while I’m sitting at work and a co-worker is standing by me and I smell smoke, I think “They must be thinking ‘Does she ever bathe?!'”  Lol.

Sitting around the fire also reminds me of one of my favorite accounts in the Bible: the time when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego found themselves in a fire pit themselves!  We read about this hot incident in Daniel 3.  The background of this story is that King Nebuchadnezzar had ordered that when the trumpet and other instruments was blown or played, everyone was to bow down to the golden image that he had made.  Whomever did not bow down to the image would be thrown into the fiery furnace.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, being believers of the one true God, would not bow down. They told the king that they knew that God could save them, but even if God didn’t deliver them from the furnace, they still would not bow to the image.  So  they were bond by ropes and thrown into the furnace. King Nebuchadnezzar looked in on the trio and saw four men instead!  The king summoned the three young men out and noticed that their hair was not singed and their robes were not scorched. The only thing that was consumed in the fire was the ropes that had bound them.  And I love this part of the story: “and there was no smell of fire on them.”

So many times I, like other believers, pray that God would spare me from unpleasant and painful situations.  I’ve been lulled into this thought that my life should be pretty easy, carefree and comfortable.  But the reality is this: life is painful!  Life is not always easy!  I will go through and have gone through some pretty difficult times in the past few years.  And even though God did not spare me (and other family members) and prevent me from going through these times, I know for certain that just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, God was walking right beside me in those “fiery” times.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had the ropes that bound them burned off while they were traipsing around the furnace and that got me thinking “What ‘ropes’ were keeping me bound while I was walking through painful times?” Maybe the “ropes of unbelief“:  Why would God allow this to happen to me?  Isn’t He a good God? This doesn’t feel very “good” to me right now! Maybe the “ropes of doubt”:  Does God really know what He’s doing?!  Do I really trust Him to see me/us through this time of being uncomfortable? this time of being in pain? this feeling of being lost? of feeling abandoned?  How about the “ropes of anger”:  How could You possibly allow this to happen?  “Ropes of pride”:  I’m/We’re one of your children and THIS is how You choose to treat me/us?  I’ve been living a pretty good life testifying to how I believe you and THIS is the thanks I get?!  As you can see, I should have bought stock in a rope company!!

And just like our three heroes of the Old Testament, it sometimes takes a fire to burn off these ropes that keep our hands, our feet, our hearts, and our minds bound.  And just like our fire walkers, we realize that no, maybe God didn’t deliver us from having to go through these fiery times of pain and hurt, but we know without a doubt, that we didn’t traipse through that fire alone. God didn’t keep us from going through it but He certainly was right there the whole time.

Oh and that favorite part of that verse: “there was no smell of fire on them”?  The Holy Spirit gently taps me on the shoulder and reminds me that even though I have walked through some fires in my lifetime, because of His presence and His grace, people won’t be able to tell that I’ve gone through the fire.  Because instead of the lingering smell of smoke on me (and in my hair), they will only be able to smell the sweet smell of Him saving me by grace and walking beside me while we both watched those ropes disintegrate and disappear.  Yeah, every once in a while I pick up those familiar ropes again and start wrapping myself up in them.  But soon enough, the Holy Spirit reminds me of what it took to burn those things off.  I can stop and remember that even though I had to go through those times, I’m not the same person who was thrown into that fire and I’m certainly a different person after I came out of that “furnace”.

And with that being said….who wants some s’mores!!  I’ll grab the lighter and the marshmallows!!