What I Learned About Faith From A Blind Man

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,

Kevin

***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?

Advertisements

12 responses to “What I Learned About Faith From A Blind Man

  1. It was an amazing show. I can’t imagine that they will ever be able to top it due to the team “No Limits”. Gypsies were great to watch too, but all the obstacles that “No Limits” had to overcome just made it all the more incredible to watch. I was inspired by Jeff’s patience. I have two young sons and I only wish I had patience like him. My boys watched the show with me and my husband and they would walk around the house with their backpacks on the next day playing Expedition Impossible. Hopefully as they watched the show they will be taught that there are no limits to what they can accomplish. I would be too chicken to try the majority of the things they did.

    • Donna, it really was inspiring! I couldn’t believe how they overcame obstacles week in and week out. The unsung hero in this whole conversation is Ike and how he pressed on with the more-or-less broken ankle. Just an incredible performance all around. That’s awesome about your sons. Nothing like the imagination of children. We would all do well to exercise a little of that ourselves!

  2. Great thoughts Kevin and good job tying them all together…I’m volunteering you for a project. This is a great story/devotion for discipleship and what it means to help mentor people to a full life found in Jesus.

  3. Think about this verse today regarding Kevin’s comment above: Matthew 19:26
    New International Version (NIV)
    Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
    What do you think Jeses meant by that? 🙂

    • Thanks for reading Bobby!

      Jesus said that on the heels of telling his disciples, “It’s harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter heaven.” To which they responded, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus responded with the verse you listed above…”With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Jesus was specifically speaking of salvation here, but His words hint at a much greater context. He said ALL things are possible.

      I think it means we can trust Him. Apart from Him it’s the blind leading the blind. But WITH Him, we are able to do far more abundantly than we could ever think or imagine. This is the key though: with Him or without Him.

      There is a right and a wrong answer to that question.

  4. Kevin, what a truely inspirational team…Go team NO LIMITS!! Anyway, I too found my self each week excitingly waiting to see what challanges Erik and his team had to encounter and conquer. Week after week I was amazed at their teamwork and faith in each other, and I as well felt like I could take on the world after watching each episode. Not only was I amazed at Erik’s abilities and faith, but Jeff’s guidance and perseverance was equally astonishing. He sacrificed his own abilities to be able to help someone else succeed. What a selfless sacrifice. Isn’t that what Jesus did for us on the cross? Sacrificed himself for us. I was truely blessed to have watched this team continually do well dispite their disabilities. And, we can’t forget Ike, who pushed through dispite having a practically broken ankle. AMAZING! Team NO LIMITS definanity lived up to their name, and we too can lead lives with NO LIMITS with God as our ultimate Guide!

    • Yeah I agree totally. Put Jeff with two other people who have similar abilities and they very well might have won the race. Jeff was a great lesson in humiilty – putting others before yourselves. That could have been another great post in itself. Wish I would have thought of it! haha…

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  5. Phenomenal post Kevin!

  6. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I read this blog post. I get excited just thinking about Erik perched up on the edge of that cliff waiting for the word jump from his teammate Jeff. By the way blog readers, they had the choice not to jump and could have taken a longer route to get to the next check point, but they chose the road less traveled despite the risk. My husband for the sake of time for sure, also left out that Erik kayaked by himself down white water rapids and rode an Arabian Stallion all by the sound of his guide’s voice telling him where to go next. I don’t know about you but I have a hard enough time listening when I am not scared out of my mind, think about being blind, scared out of your mind, and having to block all that out to listen to your guide.

    Maybe Erik has the advantage. Just, maybe that is what God means by die to self, pick up your cross and follow me. Stop looking at the small picture and remember that God can see the whole parade and not just the one float in your eye site (That is a shout out to my girl Laura who did an amazing job leading Bible Study last night.) Close your eyes, jump, and let the only true guide lead your way

your thoughts??

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s