My wife and I recently watched the first season of the new show on ABC, “Expedition: Impossible.” Staged in Morocco, 13 three person teams struck out each day on a journey that would test both their endurance as well as their ability to work collectively as a team. There were teams comprised of football players, fisherman, cops, firemen, country boys, childhood friends, and the eventual winners – the gypsies.
The gypsies all had mustaches so you knew this game was made for them.
But there was one team in particular that kept us watching the show week after week. The three members were a military man, a blind man, and his guide. On the surface this team didn’t pose a threat to anyone. However, this was no ordinary team. And this was no ordinary blind man. He has climbed Mt. Everest.
We were awestruck as this team went to work each week. If you walked in our house and saw us watching this show you’d think we looked like a couple of two year olds watching “Baby Einsteins.” We were riveted.
The blind man’s name is Erik and he did everything everyone else on the show did – and usually better. He ran – not walked, but ran – up and down rocky terrain. He repelled down the side of cliffs. He rode camels. Did you hear that? He rode camels! He jumped off of 40 foot high cliffs into pools of water below. He swam across rivers. He zip-lined a couple hundred feet from the top of cliff to the other side of the canyon below…alone.
After every episode I was ready to go take on the world.
One thing struck me though. If he were left to this competition alone, who knows where he would’ve ended up? He wouldn’t have been able to accomplish half of the things he did or more. The reason he was so successful was because of his guide, Jeff. Reflecting on the relationship between these two taught me some things about faith. I’d like to share them with you here.
Erik was utterly dependent upon Jeff for direction. He didn’t leave Jeff’s side. Maybe it’s more accurate to say Jeff didn’t leave Erik’s side. In a foreign land surrounded by strangers, if he lost Jeff for even a moment he would have absolutely no idea where to go or what to do. So many times we feel blind on this journey of life, not knowing which direction to go, which job to take, whom we should marry, etc. But we can take heart knowing that we have a Guide who knows the beginning from the end. Never leave His side and trust His guidance and direction.
When Jeff said jump, Erik jumped. No questions asked. This was the thing that struck me the most. On a minute-by-minute basis Erik was being pushed out of the comfort zone of a blind person. But he never wavered or doubted Jeff for even a moment. If Jeff said jump, he jumped. If Jeff said turn here, he turned here. If Jeff said start paddling, he started paddling. Erik was so tuned to Jeff’s voice that he knew it. He heard it instinctively and he trusted it unconditionally. This of course was built over years and years of experience together, but it should be the goal of our relationship with God. He is a good God who has our best interest at heart. We should be so tuned to His voice and His spirit that when He says go, we go. No questions asked.
Jeff didn’t coddle Erik in his weakness. Jeff could have tried to explain every situation, the logic behind every decision, or pleaded with the producers on Erik’s behalf for leniency during certain challenges. He did none of that. If Erik was going to be in the race he’d have to fight the same battle everyone else was fighting. In a way, Erik’s weakness was made perfect in Jeff’s strength. What he would normally be unable to do he was able through Jeff. In much the same way we are in a battle we cannot win on our own. But are still called to fight the battle. In our weakness Jesus shines through. It’s His strength that carries the day, not ours.
Erik didn’t allow his apparent weakness to keep him from accomplishing great things. He could’ve stayed home. He could’ve said, “I can’t do that. I’m blind!” He could’ve been worried about what the other teams would think or whether he might get hurt. But he didn’t. He was aware of his weaknesses, but they didn’t control him. Do you know what God says you are capable of through Him? A lot? More than we probably think? How about “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
Erik was aware of this and he exuded gratefulness. He realized that it was Jeff who made the whole journey possible. He realized that, while he was a willing vessel, he would have been nothing more had it not been for his teammates. So while we see a blind man doing incredible things and praise him for it, he continuously ushered the credit towards his teammates for he knows that a blind man couldn’t do half of what he did without a guiding force to direct him. Humility is the key to the Christian life. We know that it is by Him, and through Him, and to Him that all things exist (Romans 11:36). How could we possibly ever claim glory or honor apart from Him?
That’s what I learned about faith from a blind man.
Oh yeah, Erik’s team came in second place. They beat everybody but the mustached gypsies.
Erik has a website and blog you can check out if you’d like. It’s www.touchthetop.com.
Did you watch the show? From what unlikely people and places have you learned from in the past?
Thanks for reading,
***Update: After publishing this article my sister-in-law forwarded it to a friend of hers who actually knows Erik and he read it on September 11th! I thought I’d share his thoughts with you: “Very cool. What a nice message, especially waking up and hearing all the sad coverage of 9-11. Tell Kevin thanks. -Erik”
Pretty cool right?