Wednesday, October 19, 2005

screaming at the blind

as i walked out of class yesterday, i saw travis standing in the hallway talking on his cell phone. i knew that every tuesday and thursday, he waited there for my friend randy, and they would walk to chapel together. this particular day, randy wasnt in my 9 am class, so when i walked out, i realized that travis could be standing there for awhile, not knowing that randy wasn't coming.
i waited patiently next to travis as he finished his phone conversation. i think he sensed there was someone there waiting on him. i had met travis a few times before, through randy, but i wasnt sure if he would remember me. as he hung up, he turned towards me, and i introduced myself again. "yeah, i remember you." was his reply. i told him that randy wasnt in class, but i would walk to chapel with him if he would like. "sure," he said, "just let me grab your arm."
so he took my arm and we headed on our way across campus.
did i mention that travis is blind?
far from being helpless, and adamant not to be pitied, travis is much more self -sufficient than you would think. after all, he is working on his masters degree, and plans to pursue a phd. after that. he played (very successfully , i might add) high school football as a lineman. he isnt quite what you would call "helpless".
but still, he can't see. so every tuesday and thursday, travis takes randy's arm as he guides him up and down stairs, around corners, through hallways and doorways, outside, across the street and through other obstacles. today, i got to be travis' eyes.
i enjoyed having conversation with travis as we walked. having never guided a blind person before, i was very alert to potential obstacles and hazards, being careful to point out steps, curbs, doorways etc. at the same time, i didnt want to be insulting. after all, this man has made it this far in his lifewithout sight, and i didnt want to treat him as if he were helpless.
we made it all the way to the chapel without incident enjoying good conversation. but once we reached the chapel, the crowded sidewalks and doorways started making me nervous. travis had his cane, so obviously people could see that we weren't strolling arm in arm because we shared a special bond, but it didnt seem like anyone bothered to get out of the way. everyone trapped in their own little world, with their own thoughts and concerns. i dont doubt or question anyones hearts, and im sure if someone had pointed out "hey, you are in the way and the guy who is blind cant get around you" they would have apologized profusely and obliged. but at that moment, i was frustrated at the lack of sensitivity.
as we waded through the crowd, we approached the rather narrow door way, that included a significant step up. i informed travis that we were at the door with a step up, and waited for him to feel the step with his cane and walk in.

he just stood still. at this point, i felt anxious because i thought he had been insulted that i would inform him of something he probably alreayd knew. after all, he had been coming to chapel for a couple of years and no one had changed anything about the structure of the building.

as i stood there, for what seemed like 3 solid minutes, wondering whether or not to repeat myself, or if he knew what he was doing and it just was taking a minute, he simply said " you go through first, and ill grab your shoulder and follow you in."

it was as simple as that. we made it in, sat down, chatted some more before the service started, and after it was over, we made our way back across campus and i walked him almost all the way back to his next class.

"i can make it from here." he said, as we came down the final set of steps to the hallway where his classroom was." i told him to have a good day, he thanked me and wished me a good day as well, and i walked upstairs to my class.

for the rest of the day i couldnt help but think of his comment "you go through first, and ill follow you". it stuck with me, and still is, and at first i wasnt sure why.

first of all, i want to point out that in no way am i making light of travis' condition, nor am i drawing a parallel between his physical blindness or any spiritual condition of his.

but what did come to mind was this. we live in a fallen world, and in a culture that is decaying faster by the day. we as christians talk frequently about the need for a "christian worldview", and how much our country, and our world, need to follow jesus.
but how effective is it when we sit back, and wait for the world to do something we dont like? we get on our soap boxes and pontificate about how sinful the world is and how they need to follow the truth in god's word. we want celebrities with money to burn and no accountability to act as upstanding christian citizens, and we want our lawmakers and politicians to consult scripture on every issue regardless of their political party or affiliations.
"one nation under god" says our pledge, and "in god we trust" says our money. we fret and wring our hands over the possibility that these two things might come to an end, and we hold rallies in our churches crying out about our rights and hold protests and sign petitions and write letters to the editor.

we are screaming to our world "the door is right there!!! just walk through it!!!" and we forget that the world is blind! and instead of aiding them, by showing them they way through the door, we just criticize their lack of sight.

1 corinthians 2:14 says
"The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God,
for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because
they are spiritually discerned".
in ephesians 4:18 paul wrote
"They [the non-believer] are darkened in their understanding, alienated
from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their
hardness of heart."
why on earth do we scream so loud at non-believers to act like christians?
they are spiritually blind!
just as my telling travis at the top of my lungs to step up and walk through doesnt help him see any better, so it is with the world. shouting directions at them does no good. they need to follow us through the door.we are so caught up in our lives and what we see wrong everyday, just like those seminary students outside of chapel, they couldnt see that they were *in the way* of those who are blind. instead of showing concern, and helping show them the way, we stay in our own minds with our own problems, wondering why people dont just go through the door!

the scrutinizing should start with ourselves. are we living in all ways according to what scripture mandates? what about pride? deep down, is there an inkling that because we are believers, then we are somehow better than those who aren't? oh, we may never say that out loud, but what do our actions show in how we speak to, and about people and issues in our lost world? is our overarching message " you should be more like *me*!!!" or is it "follow me through the door.... that leads to christ!"
instead of sitting back and complaining, and allowing the world to see us as those who... sit back and complain, why dont we pray for those we work with those we voted for, and those we didnt? why dont we show them the love of christ, instead of the wrath and boycott of a christian institution?
am i saying that we never speak out on issues that are destroying our families, our culture and our world? by no means! but how we speak out, and what we say when we do is vital. we should not shy away from the message of christ. more than we seek to influence people to vote for a certain political party, we should seek to influence people with the gospel.
in our churches, are we equipping our members to go out into society armed with the truth of god's word and the gospel, ready to have an answer for anyone who asks about the hope that they have? are we equipping people to live for christ as doctors, lawyers, school teachers (private *and* public {1} see below), politicians, bankers, policeman, buisness owners, etc. ? or are we sending messages that say "withdraw from this evil world, for we know the truth, and we must not be tainted by those who do not!
"the gospel is "GO AND TELL!!!" not, "sit back and complain about how they don't know!!" if we want to make a difference in our world, then we are going to have to get *in* it, just like our savior did. he came to seek and save the lost. not to wait for them to come knocking on the front door of the church after they have decided they want to be like those who always seem mad for no good reason.

when our world looks at us, do they think "they dont agree with me, but i know that they are concerned about me." most likely, all they see is our backs, and our cries of "you are wrong and not like me!!" and our anger.
should we speak out about abortion, gross sexual immorality, blatant disregard for human life? yes, yes, a thousand times yes!! but we should have a reason that is known by all for speaking out! it is not because we want *our way*. it is because there is one trueand holy god who sent his son to die to reconcile lost and dying man to him. and that gift is attainable if you repent of your sins and believe in christ jesus! and that same holy god has called us to a holy life, a life of obedience. and it is because of *THIS* that we speak out against these things!

*THAT* is the message the world needs to hear from the church. not one of "do things our way", but one that shares with them the hope of salvation and eternal life with the one true and holy god.
will everyone repent and believe? no. we know that from scripture. but knowing that god calls to himself those who will believe is no reason to excuse ourselves as his instruments of bringing the good news to them. the fact that the world for the most part will turn a deaf ear to the gospel is no reason for the world to not know *why* we hold the views we do.
this earth is passing away. if the lord tarries another thousand years, if history tells us anything, america will be a distant memory. so what are we fighting for? are we fighting to *christianize* a non christian (because it isnt, people) nation, or are we fighting to share the gospel with all who will listen, to make them citizens of a kingdom that will never fail?
may god give us wisdom and mercy,

-stephen
{1} perhaps a post on this at another time. suffice it to say for now, that while i do not think that it is wrong to have children enrolled in private schools, i shudder at the thought of public schools without christian teachers and students to share the love of christ with non-believing students, whether it be in content of material, or in relationships. if children are educated properly in the matters of faith in the home and at church, it would be a waste to deprive our public schools of such a valuable resource to make a difference in our communities. it seems to do little good, again, to withdraw and leave the lost to their own devices.

4 comments:

Jonathan said...

man, do you need to borrow my digital camera? just kidding. Get your own blog template though. This one's taken. :) It's been great working with ya bro.

katherine said...

i read it!

and i just realized you have a patty griffin link. nice, brother, nice.

seriously, though. there's not much more i can say except to echo what you've already said. thanks for guiding us in the right direction.

Freddy T. Wyatt said...

good stuff my man. i finished reading it this morning. I'm looking forward to the post about the public school stuff. I've done a little thinking on that, and anisipate much more to come. Susan would testify that in her particular private Christian school there are plenty of unbelievers. Obviously there are more in public schools. Anyways, for her it was a teaching job and not a choice between the two. I think you follow. Most of my time has been spent thinking about public school or home schooling. I share the same shudder that you do to think that the light will leave the darkness. However, I'm sobered to think that I will stand before God one day and give an account of how well I educated my children. Every has to critically and honestly evaluate their own context. For instance, I would have little problem choosing public school as the way I will educate my children if it was in the context that I group up in, in middle TN. However, some reports that I am hearing about schools in other parts of the US, leave me a little uncomfortable in choosing to educate my children their.

Freddy T. Wyatt said...

i know i know...yur busy. Well, maybe we can chat more about it later. cool...