Learning to See
It was Napoleon Bonaparte who wrote: “The gospel is not a book; it is a living being, with an action, a power, which invades every thing that opposes its extension, behold! It is upon this table: This book, surpassing all others. I never omit to read it, and every day with some pleasure.” While many have told me that I’ve been brain washed or tricked into a religion, it quite hard to say that to a man like Napoleon who based most of his life on conquering. After all can you imagine Napoleon submitting to God?
When pastors get up and present a message they’re called swindlers, pimps and worst. However many business owners commit far worst crimes, yet no one calls them out. The only explanation I can come up with is — Pastors are held to a higher standard than the rest of society — many pastors after all claim holiness but yet few are. My life as a Christian — though affected by pastors and the churches they shepherd — is based more on my everyday experiences than on my time spent at church. I’ve learned to see beyond the mere externals and observe with a different set of eyes.
My father for example has served in various churches over the years: he was an elder, a bible worker, and a colporteur, yet none of the positions he has held, has given me hope & strengthen my faith. Though he is committed and serves with passion, it is his daily struggle with blindness that increases my faith. Very early on my dad experienced the effects of a degenerated disease know as Retinitis Pigmentosa, a disease that slowly made him blind. Although my father can see light and shadows he cannot distinguish objects or shapes but being around him one can easily forget his handicap. His lack of vision becomes clear when he meets someone for the first time as he wont give the eye contact many are use to but despite it all he doesn’t allow his lack of vision to hinder him.
There are many individuals in various churches who ask about my father and how he seems to function from day to day, despite his blindness. To me the answer is simple: God! Many would argue with my faith and simply say: his other senses have improved to make up for his lack of vision, but when I see my father I see that he was selected to live the life he lives. With his handicap he is able to connect with people and leave impressions that lead them to think of God.
For example: in the mid 90s my family and I lived in a 2 bedroom apartment a short distance from Gun hill Road in Bronx New York. After several years of moving from apartment to apartment — yet still within the same building — my family started to fall behind on the rent and after several months of keeping the landlord waiting. The landlord finally confronted my father and asked when will he be paid? My dad simply told him that the payment was in God’s hands and when the time comes he will pay off the entire amount with one payment. The landlord replied with a reluctant Ok. Needless to say after a few more months of non-payment, God provided all the funds that we owed in rent. The other remarkable thing was how the landlord responded: Mr. Cromwell you really do know your God! This encounter though small gave me a glimpse of trusting in God. It helped me to realize that God expects us to work and take care of our families but he wants us to depend on him each step of the way. God expects us to use the strength, skill, and resources he’s given us and to remember daily that all these gifts come from him.
Sight & Insight
I often look back on my years in New York and think: how can a blind man along with his wife provide for their 2 kids in the city of New York, without any outside support? My father’s disability indicates to me a greater power at work, it is also clear that many of us have sight but we lack a deeper awareness. We might even have common sense but still lack depth of understanding. Dexter Thomas a good friend of my father who is also blind once said: There’s something far worst than blindness and it’s a lack of vision, Hosea 4:6 makes it even clear when it states my people perish from a lack of knowledge. Insight is a far greater value than sight it can create unity, build a future, and start something from nothing. Proverbs 4:7 has a clear progression of how we can achieve insight: “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.”All good gifts come from God, (James 1:17) the sooner we recognize this fact, the sooner God will be willing to give all these gifts to us. However to know and accept this fact takes faith and insight.