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Sermon 9/4/05 - Adventures
Isaiah 58:10-11

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Adventures

And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail” (Isaiah 58:10-11)

When challenged to think of activities that could be described as “adventures,” many would come up with ideas such as white water rafting, jumping out of airplanes, or rappelling up mountains.  Actually, there are wonderful adventures all around us, just waiting to happen, and many of them are not only free, but they’re also wonderful!

A couple of weeks ago, we attended a Men’s Retreat, in Payson, Arizona.  There were 43 of us, and I had previously met quite a few of the men, during the years I attended Calvary Chapel East Mesa, in Arizona.  I think I had the best time of any of us, because of the adventure with Pastor Howard and his friend, Susan, who is in a wheelchair.

Howard and I had arranged to meet at the Phoenix Airport, and we connected by cell phone as soon as I landed.  I asked, “Where are you?” and he responded, “I don’t know,” which makes sense because Howard is blind.  He knew he was in the airport at Terminal Four, but had no reference points to guide him beyond that basic information.

He then asked me, “What level are you on?” and even though I’ve landed in Phoenix many times, I never thought about “levels” at all, simply following the signs with arrows that said “Baggage Claim” and “Exit.”  Unlike Howard, I had no excuse to be unaware of my location, and discovered that I was on the First Level.  Howard informed me he was at the America West ticket counter, one level up.  Onto the escalator I went, lugging two oversized suitcases that contained little except sleeping bags for Howard and me at the Men’s Retreat, and I had a carry-on full of books that kept slipping off my shoulder.

I did not see Howard at the America West Ticket Counter.  By now I had learned through the cell phone that Howard’s beloved friend, Susan, was with him, and that she would join us for dinner before we left the airport.  I saw a woman in a wheelchair and asked if Susan was wearing a red sweater.  “No,” Howard responded, and he paused to ask Susan the color she was wearing – she replied, “white.”  I kept looking.

Howard was in mid-sentence, when I suddenly realized that I was hearing Howard from BOTH ears, not just the one with the cell phone.  I looked to my left, and there he was, moving his white cane rapidly from side-to-side, with his other hand holding the arm of a young man in an America West Airlines uniform.  I shouted “Howard!” over the noise of the airport and we connected at last.  Then I met Susan in person for the first time.

She’s not only in an electric-driven wheelchair, but she also has been blind for two years, and it was at that moment the adventure really began.  There were people with baggage rushing in every direction and suddenly I had to learn how to guide two people who could see – nothing!  Howard held onto the back of Susan’s chair, and I was backing-up, giving instructions to Susan, who made turns in either direction in response to my words.  “A little to the leftnow just a touch to the right…” while I back-pedaled and guided them.  We were dodging travelers and luggage, as we went into elevators and around corners, while the loud speakers drowned-out many of my words and Susan’s responses.

We found a suitable restaurant, discovering that Susan’s over-sized wheelchair had about two inches of clearance on either side in the aisles, and that travelers tend to dump their suitcases into the aisles and become annoyed when you ask for them to be moved.  We were in a hurry at all times because the “Access” transportation vehicle was to be at the front of the terminal to pick us up in just forty-five minutes!

What an adventure!  I’ve accompanied people in wheelchairs on many occasions, walking with them as they rode, and was in a wheelchair myself for five years, but none of that was anything like this experience.  All during the time we were together, I was reminded of Scriptures like ours for today, thinking anew that you and I are blind to the pathways and dangers that only God can see, and we usually don’t respond to His leading as-well-as Susan followed me.  Howard followed Susan and Susan trusted in me, enabling us all to get safely where we needed to go.

In today’s Scripture, God was speaking to so-called “Able-Bodied” persons (as the disabled community refers to everybody else), and He is essentially saying, “if you will help others, I will help you.”  “If you lead the blind, I will lead you,” and please note that YOU (every one of us, each in our own way) – you and I are “blind” as well.  If you would like to argue the point and say you are not “blind,” let me ask you a question: “Can you “see” tomorrow?  I don’t mean GUESS about how it is likely to be – can you actually SEE what is going to happen to you, to this world, the next day and the one after that?  We are blind to what will happen in the next MINUTE of our lives!

God CAN see tomorrow.  The Holy Spirit “will tell you things to come” (John 16:13), if you are willing to “hear” to the degree Susan intently listened to me.  He WILL show you the way because HE KNOWS the way.  “The Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail” (Isaiah 58:10-11).

When we arrived in Payson for Howard’s first Men’s Retreat, I was privileged to be his guide for the weekend.  I led him up to trees so he could feel the trunks of them.  I was surprised to learn that, through feeling, he knows the TYPES of trees better than I do, even though I can see the leaves and he can’t.  He asked what a squirrel looks like, and I did my best to tell him.  We talked about the clouds and what they are like.

Please note that when you and I respond to the Lord’s command to love one another (John 13:34), WE benefit tremendously, for we are given much by the Lord when we do.  Best of all, “the Lord will continually guide you.”  You and I ARE blind, but you don’t need to ever be afraid again, for He is with you and He will show you the way.  Let’s pray:

Father, help me to trust in You and be willing to help others.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
First Church On The Net
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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