An unflappable person has the patience of Job, as the saying goes. And for many who are familiar with the Old Testament book, Job’s patience seems to be on full display. After all, most remember that Job’s life appears to be the subject of some form of wager between God and Satan. But, by looking at the book that way we might conclude that Job really didn’t deserve all that happened to him. We might, secretly, do exactly what Job did NOT do.
Corey was blinder than a bat, of that there was no argument. He wasn’t born that way. For forty years he’d enjoyed perfect 20/20 vision. His piercing black eyes were his most remarkable tools of his trade. With a fierce stare, he would deliver resounding points to conclude his Sunday message, leaving a lasting impression upon everyone in attendance, with possible exception to those in the last few rows.
Then, at the age of 40, his lovely wife Esther contracted a rapid case of breast cancer, which claimed her life in a matter of months. With her passing, his eyes simply died and the world turned black.
Neither doctor nor specialist could uncover the cause. Most suspected this to be a case of psychological “blindness.” No amount of time on a therapist’s couch, however, could expose a mental block that might be removed to restore his vision. Likewise, the thick cataracts that formed over his ebony orbs could not be attributed to a psychiatric condition.
With each week the gathered faithful dwindled to a small band of misfits. Most followed after a promising pupil of his who struck out on his own, forming a much different “ministry.”
Corey sunk to his lowest by the anniversary of Esther’s passing. He no longer heard the voice of God speak from his time reading Scripture. His prayers felt flat and seemed to bounce off a cold, hard sky.
As he slumped on the soft ground in front of Esther’s tombstone, he heard some leaves rustle and a furry face with a wet nose bump into his cheek.
A warm tongue licked him.
The old golden retriever had no collar and no one ever responded to Corey’s notice in the paper about the dog. He named him Scooter because he could hear the dog walk, dragging his rear paws across the floor in a long stretch. It sounded like he was scooting across the floor.
The name fit. As did the dog, which seemed to be trained to lead a blind man.
It was then, during that unseasonably warm autumn, Corey fell down beside his bed and unloaded all the pain and anger he was nurturing into a bitter brew. He gave God ‘what for,’ so to speak. With a sprawling list of well-remembered injustices, Corey presented his sad case before his Savior.
Blessing or cursing.
It was on that threadbare floor in the upper room of the aged parsonage of a dying church that Corey heaped a shovelful of dirt on the old, dead corpse of his old man. The new Corey, the one to whom God’s spirit gave birth so long ago, had been like a twin in utero, struggling for supremacy and life with the dead sibling. And while there was no contest of which was alive, the living twin couldn’t grow until it divested itself of the dead half.
Suddenly, Corey could see. Not with his piercing black eyes. No, those remained as dark as the heart of all those who cling to the earth, rejecting God’s love. But he could see God’s tender love in all the hurt through which he’d traveled, dark valleys, filled with deathly shadows. He could see his Father preparing the cups filled with bitterness, but with loving care, as a mother would administer some noxious medicine that must be swallowed to cure a vile disease.
Corey loved Esther. But he loved her too much.
The eyes that drilled his messages into parishioners had become more important than the heart that longed to worship God.
Those who regarded him highly didn’t hold God in as high esteem. He’d supplanted his Lord with his personality and ego.
For his own wellbeing, God needed to bring him to the lowest point. And now he waited, mindful that Joseph spent years upon years in a dungeon, falsely accused, having been sold as a slave by his brothers, before rising to the second highest position in Egypt and saving couples lives during the famine. Moses fled Egypt to live humbly as a shepherd for 40 years in the wilderness before being called back to serve God in the great Exodus.
Corey sat on the park bench, scratching Scooter behind the ears and rubbing his head, praying silently to be used in whatever way God would see fit.
Just then, a horrid smell wafted past his face and hung around in the air as someone sat down beside him. If a person’s smell could indicate the state of their soul, this man resided in the deepest pits of damnation.