Take Me to the Eye Clinic
I work at an eye clinic located in a hospital that serves a large amount of underprivileged people. Many of them are homeless, have serious mental health issues, or are very poor. Every day, there are many patients who come to our clinic who have very low vision or are blind. Blind patients are often brought in by loved ones, a nurse’s aid, or other attendant. As you can imagine, they are either being led by their companions or brought to their appointments in a wheelchair. This story is about a man who made me stop and contemplate what it really means to be blind. I can’t tell you his real name, so we’ll just call him Joe.
I sit at a desk station in front of the eye clinic, where I check patients in for their appointments, schedule follow up visits, and so on. The eye clinic is right next to a set of elevators. One busy morning, a man gets off of the elevator and shouts very loudly, “Can someone help me find the eye clinic!?” A man nearby points in my direction and tells him where to go. Joe yells, “Where?” The man repeats himself, saying, “It’s right over there, right in front of you,” while pointing in my direction. Finally, frustrated, Joe yells, “I’m blind, I can’t see it.” He is using his white cane (the cane used by blind people to help guide them). Since he is only about twenty feet in front of me, I call out to him, letting him know to walk forward a few steps. “You’re almost here, walk forward a few more steps.” He takes about three steps. I tell him to take a few more, which he does, while swinging his white cane back and forth. People on either side of him are jumping out of his way so he doesn’t hit them. Joe continues to inch forward at the sound of my voice and when his guide cane hits my station, he stops. “I’m here for my eye appointment.” When I get his necessary information, I see that his appointment was the day before and that he had missed it. He was extremely disappointment and began to get upset. Calmly, I told him that I was going to try to help him find another appointment soon. I went and spoke with the low vision doctor, and she wrote orders to work him into her schedule for the following week. She also put in a consult for the patient to be picked up by a transportation service so he wouldn’t have to ride the bus and get to the hospital without any assistance.
He was very happy about this and told me he needed to get to the ER for something else. He asked if I could tell him which way to go to get back to the elevator. I told him I would come around to the front of my station and lead him there. I offered to walk him all the way to the ER, but he told me if I could get him to the elevator, he would find his way by getting someone downstairs to help him get to the ER. He held my arm and we slowly made our way toward the elevator. He was swinging his white cane back and forth, and I admit I smiled a little as I watched people jump out of his way.
On the way to the elevator, I asked him about his home situation and discovered that he lives alone. He told me he’s had people who have stayed with him before, in order to help him, but he confessed to me, “I am a difficult person. Most people don’t stay with me for more than a couple of weeks.” I told him I was sorry to hear that, and that he was precious and that he would be in my prayers. I asked him again if I could go to the ER with him, but he declined and thanked me for helping him find his way. I put him in the elevator and told him where to stand so that he could hold on, made sure he was stable, then I pushed the button for the ground floor. I also found it interesting and unusual that no one else who was waiting for the elevator wanted to get in. I chuckled a little to myself as I imagined him getting off the elevator downstairs asking for help to get to the ER, swinging his white cane. I had nothing but admiration for this man.
Later that day, I could not stop thinking about Joe. He was living his life in complete darkness, completely alone, with no help. Even though I gathered that he was quite self-sufficient in coping with his disability, I imagined him at home trying to cook himself a meal or do all the numerous self-care tasks and household chores that we all need to do on a daily basis. My heart was broken for this man and I cried for him and prayed that God would help him somehow. In my heart I knew that God was giving me the tiniest glimpse of His love, not just for this man, but for people in this world, for the lost. Jesus is relentless in his hunger for relationship with us, unwaivering in His pursuit for the lost.
It's funny how God uses random experiences in our lives to show us truths, to remind us of His call. I knew by how much this affected me that God had a lesson in it for me. I began to research blindness in the scriptures, and I asked God to teach me whatever it was that He wanted me to learn. Scripture after scripture, I found a common theme and began to see with new eyes, pun intended.
We are living in a time where people want nothing to do with God or Christianity. People all around us, in the media, in our workplaces, even perhaps in our families, are denouncing Christianity, normalizing depravity, and we see our culture and even our churches rapidly becoming more secular, more humanistic, more dysfunctional. We’ve seen the breakdown of families, with more single parent households in the US than ever in our history. Additonally, the marriage rate has fallen to an all time low of about 29% in 2020, down from 37.5% in 2008, and about 76% in 1960. There are powers at work that lie and make people believe that this is to be celebrated! We are living in an age where the blind leading the blind is an understatement. But let us not forget that Jesus is all about that ditch!
Meanwhile, many Christians have become discouraged, flailing, forgetting the power and light that we have been born into the moment God breathed that resurrection life into us upon salvation and baptism of the Holy Spirit. We have forgotten who we are and whose we are. In allowing me to experience that tiny glimpse I mentioned, I am reminded that God has not stopped just because our culture has turned away from Him. Thinking about Joe, I can’t help but understand with new comprehension that Jesus is all about the ditch. God is still at work in humankind. He is still madly in love with his people. He is chasing after the lost with increasing intensity. He is chasing after you and I and He has not forgotten His promises. His love is greater, even when we can’t see it or feel it. He is very much alive… He lives! And because He lives, we can proclaim the good news to this generation of fatherless people. After all, they’re crying out for help to find the “eye clinic.”
Faces of the Fatherless
“When I look into your eyes
I see the faces of the fatherless
Jesus you’re calling us
Hungry people everywhere
With deperate hearts they are crying out
With a silent shout
Do you love?
Do you forgive?
What is the reason
That I live?