October 14, 2007 Observation:
The status of my health is as follows: An old farmer wanted to sell one of his horses so he ran an ad in the local newspaper which in part said, "The horse doesn't look so good." A few days after the ad appeared a man drove out to his farm to examine the horse. The horse was just gorgeous and the price was more than right so he bought it thinking he had really put one over on the old farmer. Two days later he was back at the farm with his recent purchase. He said to the farmer, "Why didn't you tell me the horse was blind?" The farmer smiled weakly as he responded, "I said he didn't look so good!"
Well, I'm afraid I am like that old horse -- I don't look so good. However, I can see well enough to not be considered blind for which I am grateful. With very powerful reading glasses, sitting as close as I can to my computer monitor, and using large fonts, I am able to read and write. By the way, if you write to me please use a 12 point or higher font or I can't read it.
Everything is so relative in life. When I was first injured I thought things couldn't get much worse than being paralyzed and on life support; I didn't even think about what a blessing it was to have almost perfect vision, as well as hearing. Now, I don't think about being paralyzed, but have spent some time considering what a priceless gift sight is. Having essentially lost the ability to see out of my right eye and now having impaired vision in my left eye I actually went through a couple of days coming close to asking the question, "Why me Lord?" Thankfully I never got that low and instead, miraculously, began to feel grateful for what vision I still have.
My situation reminds me of the story of a great salesman, who after a serious car accident was left a paraplegic. His friends hesitated to visit him because they just could not imagine what he would be like now. Previously he had been so dynamic, enthusiastic, and happy that they just drug their feet all the way to his door not knowing what to expect. He opened the door and as he greeted them they instantly could see that except for not being able to walk, he was the same wonderful person he had been before. He said, "Before my injury I could do a thousand things. Now I can only do 500; however, I am not eating out my heart because of the 500 things I can't do, but am grateful for the 500 I can do."
Believe me, I will take whatever ability I have to see, and rejoice in it. I have a much greater empathy for those who are blind than I ever had before. With my "long distance" glasses I can watch TV pretty well, enjoy going outside, but can't see well enough to read the street signs. Actually, it has been a blessing to not be able to see really well as Jo Anne drives me about. I have lost the sense of impending doom that accompanied me on most of our journeys on the streets and freeways of Southern California, and I suppose will only realize how dangerous things have really been when it is too late to do anything about it.
Not having been able to read or write has caused me to do more pondering and reflecting than usual. For some reason, almost every evening or morning while I am in bed and not asleep, one scripture from the Gospel of John that has been set to music seems to constantly be playing in my mind. One of the things I miss most about my current situation is my inability to sing. I sang in a chorus at BYU, in the mission field, directed a seminary choir in Ogden, Utah, as well as serving as a ward choir director for a short period of time. For some reason every choir I conducted or sang in, we always learned and performed the following: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." [John 14:27]
Those of you who have been privileged to sing this number, or have heard the Tabernacle choir sing it, are undoubtedly having the beautiful melody and harmony resonate through your mind and heart at this moment. I can never just recite these words but almost involuntarily sing them in my mind. And so, for some months, without consciously striving to do so these words and melody have almost constantly been in my mind in the late evening and early morning hours. I am kind of dense but I began to think the Lord was addressing the fact that my heart was somewhat "troubled and afraid," regarding the possibility of impending blindness. I believe that is undoubtedly part of it -- my heart was "troubled and afraid" -- sure evidence of a lack of faith in Christ and the power of the atonement. However, that was just part of the message the Lord wanted me to get as I began to analyze and ponder the words of the Savior recorded by John.
The verse begins "Peace I leave with you..." Yes, Christ was the Prince of Peace, and was not the great warrior the Jews expected to come to free them from the yoke of Roman bondage. He left the world in peace in the sense that no armed conflict erupted or was inspired by him during his ministry. That was important, but then he goes to the heart of the matter -- something I needed to understand. "... my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you..." Now he talks about another kind of peace -- my peace! And he doesn't just leave it with us; he gives it to us. The gift of his peace enables us to never let our hearts be troubled or afraid. If we seek him and trust in his goodness he will give us his peace -- not as the world giveth. His peace is spiritual in nature and hard to describe to one who has never felt it. Paul said it passes all human understanding -- and it does, but it is real. The peace the world has to offer comes from important institutions of men such as stable government, law and order, and in the minds of some, institutions like the United Nations. Unfortunately, the world's peace seems to have to be enforced by weapons of destruction -- quite an ironic paradox.
In retrospect I have needed this message from John 14:27 badly at this time in my life. Trouble and fear have thankfully been replaced by the peace that only the Savior can bring into one's heart. The Savior's gift of peace is priceless!