Friday, March 28, 2014

Hope Unseen - The Story of a Blind Man - Ukulele "I Can See Clearly Now."

Hope-Unseen



Captain Scotty Smiley, a Ranger and combat-diver qualified infantryman, was the Army’s first active-duty, blind officer and its first blind company commander. On April 6, 2005, he lost use of both eyes when a suicide car bomber blew himself up thirty meters in front of Scotty’s Stryker vehicle.

Blindness became Captain Scotty Smiley’s journey of supreme testing. As he lay helpless in the hospital, he resented the theft of his dreams—becoming a CEO, a Delta Force operator, or a four-star general. With his wife Tiffany’s love and the support of his family and friends, Scotty’s response became God’s transforming moment. The injury only intensified his indomitable spirit. Since the moment he jumped out of a hospital bed and forced his way through nurses and cords to take a simple shower, Captain Scotty Smiley has climbed Mount Rainier, won an ESPY as Best Outdoor Athlete, surfed, skydived, become a father, earned an MBA from Duke, taught leadership at West Point, commanded an army company, and won the MacArthur Leadership Award. Scotty and Tiffany Smiley have lived out a faith so real that it will inspire you to question your own doubts, push you to serve something bigger than yourself, and encourage you to cling to a Hope Unseen.



I worked out for forty minutes that day.  Then I walked back out into the chlorine-filled hallway and headed for the exit.  As I've already shared, somewhere along the sidewalk leading to the door of the blind center, my stick missed a mat.  Once I was off my known path, nothing could pull me back.  I had no way to regain my bearing.  For some reason - an act of rebellion, really - I stepped off the sidewalk, further disorienting myself.  The next thing I knew, I was lost in that scorching-hot parking lot.

I struggled for half an hour and then dropped into a lump on the ground and began to sob.  I had no idea who I was or where I was.  Was I even a lieutenant in the army?  I certainly wasn't a leader anymore.  I felt like I was in some warped social experiment.  My entire world had disappeared and been replaced with a joke.  I asked God to tell me how I was supposed to take care of my family if I couldn't even walk back from the gym.  I was tired of basket weaving and Tom's piano playing and being treated like a fool.  "God, what do You want from me?"


I resented the theft of my dreams - my hopes of becoming a fortune 500 CEO, or a Delta Force operator, or a four-star general.  Instead, I was a grown man who needed help walking across the street.  Coming out of West Point and Ranger School, I didn't exactly have my life planned out, but I had options.  And now I can't even walk back from the gym?  I wanted to scream, but all I could do was cry.  I was so incredibly helpless sitting there in that moment, hot, lost, and disabled.


What do you want from me, God?  Why am I even alive?


Oddly, almost instantaneously, I realized that I had never really commuted myself fully  to God's plans.  I'd had my dreams and my plans and my own selfish pride.  I had known God and believed in Him.  I had prayed and tried to love and serve others.  I had asked God to help me with my life's decisions.  But I had never fully depended on God or hoped completely in Him.  In some way, without realizing it, I had hoped in myself.  I had relied on myself, on my gifts, instincts, and natural abilities.  Those gifts and abilities had brought me a long way, all the way to the corner of Route Tampa and Route Porsche.  But they could take me no further.


I had lost my way a while back - my inability to navigate had nothing to do with my eyes and everything to do with my lack of focus on what our finite time on earth is all about.  I paused.   I stopped crying.  It occurred to me that if I was not capable of directing myself between two buildings - a left and then a mat and then a right - then what was I going to do with the big things?  "Scotty," God seemed to be saying to my heart, "humble yourself and depend on Me."  As I sat on that sidewalk I understood with clarity that hardships must occur for people to open up there eyes and see that they are really fools.  If that's not true for all people, then at least for me that was the case.


God continued to work on my heart.  "You are not this guy who can just do things on his own.  You never really were.  No one is."


I thought about Jesus.  God's own Son needed assistance at the toughest moments of His life.  When Jesus fell under the weight of the cross, a man came out from the crowd and carried it for Him.  Paul had Timothy.  Paul told the Philippians he could do all things, not by himself, but through Christ who strengthens.  The me who could see was used to climbing mountains and thanking God for coming along.  The me who could not see was totally dependent.  "You need to trust Me, Scotty."  I sensed God telling me "And you need to depend on others."


I can do all things.   There is nothing in the Bible that qualifies that statement, nothing that says I need eyes.  It says only that I need Christ.  It was a truth that my blindness was going to help me see. My confidence was being moved away from self- from my own ability to see and control - to a new hope, a hope unseen.



In the Gospel of John we hear of Jesus encounter with healing of the Man born blind.  


As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.


Why does God allow blindness?  Why does Jesus wish to heal and perform miracles?  "So that the works of God might be made visible through him."  

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.


We all have to admit first that we are blind.  Like Scotty Smiley "
The me who could not see was totally dependent.  "You need to trust Me, Scotty."  I sensed God telling me "And you need to depend on others." 

We are blind, but we do have a way to see.  We do have hope, we do have a light to guide us on our way.  And this is Jesus.  If we realize that we cannot rely on our own gifts, abilities, and instincts no matter how good they are.  The truth is we are completely lost, powerless, disabled, and blind.

May God continue to work on your heart so that you realize that 
"You are not this guy who can just do things on his own.  You never really were.  No one is."

We can only do all things through Christ who strengthens us. 

As Scotty realized, it seems "hardships must occur for people to open up there eyes and see that they are really fools.  If that's not true for all people, then at least for me that was the case. 


It's when we realize that we are blind that we begin to see.  It's when we realize that we are dependent on God an others that things become bright once more.  

This leads me to a song that you'll all be familiar with and as you listen to these words reflect on the reality that you have been baptized into this faith.  

If you can see clearly now... it is only because you believe in Him.                      "I Can See Clearly Now"


I can see clearly now the rain is gone.
I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
bright (bright) sunshiny day.
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
bright (bright) sunshiny day.
Oh, yes I can make it now the pain is gone.
All of the bad feelings have disappeared.
Here is that rainbow I've been praying for.
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
bright (bright) sunshiny day.
(ooh...) Look all around, there's nothing but blue skies.
Look straight ahead, there's nothing but blue skies.
I can see clearly now the rain is gone.
I can see all obstacles in my way.
Here is that rainbow I've been praying for.
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
bright (bright) sunshiny day.
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
bright (bright) sunshiny day.
It's going to be a bright (bright)
bright (bright) sunshiny day.
Yeah, hey, it's gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright)
sunshiny day.


                                                                               -Johnny Nash
During these next few days of this parish mission I'm going to help you to see by examining your life, by taking a look and noticing when you are being lead by Christ and when you are blind and walking in the darkness.   By the end of this mission you will have the tools and the resources and the experience of your eyes being opened up to Christ and allowing yourself to "see" and not be blind.  

I'm going to be offering you the chance to have your eyes opened, your blindness taken away, and your life lived in union with Christ.  

If you join me these next few days I can assure your future will be filled with bright, bright, bright sunshiny days.  


Read it Now!   or see his website 

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