only help my unbelief

The day I almost went blind, or how I became Reformed
September 19, 2008, 8:00 am
Filed under: Posts

Note: Parts of this post are taken from a post I wrote for my first blog about 18 months ago. I don’t think it’s possible to plagiarize yourself, but just in case, I’m giving myself permission to adapt that post.

O Father, You are sovereign, the Lord of human pain,
Transmuting earthly sorrows to gold of heavenly gain,
All evil overruling, as none but Conqueror could,
Your love pursues its purpose–our souls’ eternal good.
Margaret Clarkson, “O Father, You are Sovereign”

It was four years ago today. And while the date doesn’t hold some aura of terror that still haunts me, every year, on September 19, I think about that night.

It was my freshman year of college, and I’d been at school for about a month. I was going to a Christian comedy show that was (and still is) performed weekly where I went to college. It was opening night, and one of my new college friends had been encouraging me to come all week. A bunch of other people I knew were going, so, as freshmen are prone to do, we traveled to the event in a large herd.

As three friends and I filed into the huge room with hundreds of other people, I remember being at the front of our group and pausing to let my friends go in front of me.

The show opened with a skit that had us all rolling in the aisles with laughter.

The second skit made fun of Antiques Roadshow. A guy had a big ceramic vase that he kept taking around to different people. They kept telling him it wasn’t worth anything. The punch line of the skit was going to be that it was actually worth a million dollars, but right as he found out, the vase would break.

That actually was how it ended, only the vase wasn’t supposed to break. He was just supposed to pretend to fling it up in the air, but not let go, and the lights would go out. He pretended to fling it, the lights went out, and the handle on the vase broke off in his hand, sending the vase soaring into the crowd.

It all happened really fast. I remember thinking, “That vase hit someone,” and I remember saying so to my friend sitting next to me. There were screams from right behind us, and I realized it had hit someone close to us. That’s when I realized my forehead kind of hurt. I told my friend that I thought it might have hit me, so she suggested we go to the bathroom and take a look (because, as I mentioned, all the lights were still out).

I honestly didn’t think anything serious had happened, although at some point between standing up and getting to the lit hallway, I started to realize that I couldn’t see. Once my friend could see me, she started screaming, and that was when I started thinking I cannot see anything.

I remember handing her my cell phone and telling her to call my mom. I remember someone coming up along beside me and telling me that he was an eye doctor. I remember sitting in a chair, with people holding my hand and telling me it was going to be alright. But mostly I remember planning a future when I wouldn’t be able to see out of my right eye.

People said later that I was really calm considering the circumstances, but I think I was partly in shock and partly sobered at the thought of not being able to see.

As it turned out, the vase hit me almost directly in my right eye, but I didn’t go blind. The reason I couldn’t see when it happened was because there was so much blood in the way.

I ended up in the emergency room getting forty stitches in a portion of my face that probably measured about two square inches. The doctor said that if the vase had been flung with any greater strength, and if the shards of glass lodged in my skin right below my eye had been to the right or the left any more than a millimeter, I would have lost all eyesight in that eye. As it turned out, my vision was still 20/20 an hour after it happened, and now, four years later, you can’t even see the scars.

That event shaped my entire first semester. I missed a week of classes and had a hard time catching up, and I ultimately ended up going to see a counselor. I was super emotional, had panic attacks and, looking back, was an intolerable person to be around. But it was because of that event that I ended up going to Reformed University Fellowship, where I met many of the dear friends whom I have today. It was also through RUF that I started getting to know the female intern at the time. She took me out to lunch numerous times and we talked about what had happened, and who God was, and how I could find comfort in my justification — a word that up until that point I didn’t really know the meaning of. As I read Scripture, and continued to relive the events of the night that vase hit me, the sovereignty of God took on a whole meaning.

I had known God for a long time, since I was six years old. I knew of His love, His compassion and His mercy, and they had been my comfort through many moves and deaths in my family. I knew of His forgiveness. But that night in September, I met with His sovereignty. At first glance someone might say the event was completely random. But as one who personally felt the full ramifications of how close I came to losing vision in my right eye, in time I came to look back on the event as if God was holding the vase in His hand, directing exactly where it went.

And there were so many parts of the story that I just couldn’t ignore. The fact that I had let my friends go in front of me. They could have been the one sitting where I sat, but they weren’t. God wanted me to sit there. The doctor who put the stitches in? He was the father of the guy who had “thrown” the vase, and he was one of the most reputable eye doctors in my area.

Certainly God would have been just as good if I had lost vision in my right eye. But like I said, it was not predominantly His mercy that reached me in this situation. It was the knowledge that all of me, all that happened to me, was completely and securely in His hands. My mom said later that if I ever doubted God’s care for me, if I wondered if He really knew what He was doing, if I feared His love or His ways, then I could look back on this incident as my own personal crossing of the Red Sea.

The God who made my face, the God who created our physical bodies to heal themselves, the God who was the reason behind the creation of the comedy show in the first place, the God who planned for me to go to my college, the God who ordained the skits that would be done, the God who comforted me in my pain, the God who brought me closer to my friends through the situation, the God who carried me through weeks of heartache and did not forsake me — He is the God who predestined before the beginning of the world that He would show grace to me in calling me to Himself, that He would grant me the gift of faith, that He would impute the righteousness of His precious Son to me, that He would sanctify me daily into the likeness of Christ, that He would perfect a good work in me until the fullness of the times when I am glorified, and He is glorified above all.


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