Article by: CATHERINE HARRISON
"I can’t do that, I’m blind," I blasted to just about everything I was asked to do. I even used that excuse with God. Not only is it a great excuse, but also it is true — at least the blind part.
For years after I lost the majority of my eyesight I used this excuse. I played it like an ace in a card game. I won the hand, but I soon lost the round. The “blind excuse” became a swindler that stole my joy, isolated me from the rest of the world, and blinded me to God’s will and his blessings.
Excuses have been around since the beginning of time. Adam started the finger pointing with The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree and I ate. [Genesis 3:12]
Excuses serve to justify poor choices, disguise fear, shift responsibility or relieve guilt.
In Exodus 3:1-12 God says to Moses, I want to use you in a mighty way.
Moses makes excuses by saying he is unworthy, unknowing, unable. All of those things may have been true, but are not good excuses because God promised to be with him. Moses is afraid.
We prefer not to take responsibility for a relationship with God – just accuse Him of being far away. It seems easier to point the blaming finger at the circumstances of life rather than overcome them. We make excuses about how some day, maybe we’ll have time for God. Perhaps you feel justified to use excuses because, like Moses, God is asking you to accomplish something you are unwilling, unprepared, or are afraid to do. For me, excuses masked my fear, vindicated my disobedience, and consoled my guilt.
No More Excuses
During the years I was losing my sight, I had so overused my excuses that even I began to believe them. Like a seasoned card shark at the poker table I played my excuses, bluffed about my hand and convinced myself I could win. I threw down my “ace” excuse at the everyday activities I thought I couldn’t do because of my disability. “I can’t read, I can’t drive, I can’t go anywhere by myself, I can’t serve in church, I can’t cook, I can’t”…bla, bla, bla.
The truth was they were activities I just didn’t want to do, didn’t know how to do, or didn’t have enough courage to do. With time, everyone stopped asking me to do anything. Even my children and husband began making excuses for me. They quit counting on me. I felt very left out, useless, and angry at God. I had made my handicap bigger than God’s capabilities to over come it. I was quick to inform God of the limitations blindness imposed, as if it was a news flash for Him.
Somewhere along the line I had forgotten that God was in control and was all He claimed to be. He is the creator of the universe, the one who parted the Red Sea, the God who brought about a virgin birth, the one who forgives our sins, and the God that raised His son from the dead. I am learning the hard way that blindness is not bigger than God. God is not surprised by my circumstances and He does not have any handicaps. God let me know He was no longer accepting my excuses. He was calling my bluff.
All my cards had been taken away. This forced me to seek out the instruction, support and the experience I desperately needed to find my way in the dark. I began to search the Bible for the purpose and reason for my life regardless of my circumstances. I learned to read Braille with my fingers, to use a cane to travel independently (while wearing high heels), to cook without burning the food or the house down, to use a computer that speaks to me, and to do almost everything else that other Moms, wives, and Christians could do.
Each day brings with it many challenges, accidents, comical moments, and learning opportunities. During the first few weeks of my “blind” training I spent a great deal of time lost, frightened, disoriented, and humiliated — all before I ever set foot outside the building. Little by little my training took me outside my comfort zone, pushing me just beyond what I thought I could do.
With my cane extended, tapping it side to side, I walked down the sidewalk to the corner of 49th and Sunshine Street. A busy corner with stop signs, wheelchair ramps and several turn lanes. A corner where impatient drivers routinely ran the stop signs or did what we call “the New Jersey stop” — a rolling pause.
There I stood on this busy corner with my instructor, listening to the traffic pattern. He tried to teach me when it was safe to cross and how to get to the other side. He helped me line up my feet so I would walk straight across the street and then he said, “Now, I want you to extend your cane and walk across.”
I could feel my heart pounding in my throat, my palms sweating, and my mind gripped with fear for my life. I decided that maybe I didn’t really need to learn cross the street. I was comfortable where I was and maybe I could just be content with what this side of the street had to offer. With tears streaming down my face, I turned to my instructor and said, “I can’t do it, I am afraid.”
“I know you are,” he said, “but you have to master this fear or the darkness will master you. Don’t be afraid, I am right here with you.”
It was as if Jesus had just spoken to me. With that I wiped the tears from my face, extended my cane, and began walking across the street..
Faith - Not Fear
Don’t be conned into thinking that I wasn’t afraid any more. I am positive the anxious thumping of my heart was visible clear through my shirt. My steps were quick and my cane tapping matched the pace. An eternity passed before my cane hit the opposite curb signaling my success. I had made it to the other side. My fear was not gone. My faith had overcome it.
I began to realize that there were so many places I could not get to if I did not learn how to cross the street. If I let my fear keep me from learning and going places then the darkness had won. My excuses and comfort zone were holding me back from finding the blessings and from being a blessing.
Jesus said, I am the light of the world; He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. [John 8:12]
Following Jesus will require that you stop making excuses, step outside your comfort zone, claim a faith that conquers fear, and dare to cross the street. Contentment to stay in a holy huddle or rely on your excuses will keep you from discovering the courage, confidence, and protection God will provide you through faith in Christ. There is more to the Christian life than just having faith, you have to put it to the test. Crossing the street was putting my faith into action and literally stepping out in it.
Play the Hand You’re Dealt
God wants to use you in a mighty way. Don’t make the mistake of giving Him excuses. Extend your faith and walk across. The blessings are on the other side of fear and excuses. Otherwise you too may find yourself lonely, useless and no longer comforted by your excuses. God does not buy them and others will stop caring. It is a dangerous and disobedient game that you will lose.
On the other side of fear and excuses I found a message of hope in Christ, the challenge to write, the courage to speak the truth, the words to encourage others, and the plan for my life.
On the other side of fear and excuses I found others who had crossed that same street and were there to say “well done.” On the other side of fear and excuses I found a faith that refuses to be shaken by the circumstances of life. I found a faith that shouted in the face of blindness, “I will see the face of God!”
I’m Blind, What’s Your Excuse?
Learning to live a life without excuses for me involves going through these five actions on a daily basis.
1. Say “No” to fear. Acknowledge the fear then go on in spite of it. You don’t have to wait for the fear to go away; you have to go on anyway. When I am afraid I will trust in you. [Psalms 56:3]
2. Stop listening to hopelessness. If you listen to the lies of hopelessness Satan is murmuring in your ear then you will be defeated before you even start.. The hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast… [Hebrews 6:19]
3. Select an accountability partner. Find someone, a spouse, or Christian friend who is willing to get in your face, use scripture to exhort you and call you on the excuses you are giving. Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I the Lord? Now then go and I even I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to say. [Exodus 4:11-12]
4. Shout “Yes” to responsibility. Stop the finger pointing. Don’t let your pride get in the way of growth emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Take classes, get counseling, get help whatever it takes to build a bridge over the circumstance you are using as an excuse. For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. [2 Corinthians 4:17]
5. Step outside your comfort zone. When you feel your heart pounding and insecurity wells up in your thoughts, then you are perilously close to the edge of your comfort zone. Take one more step over the line and remember the verse: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. [Philippians 4:13]
You will be amazed what you find on the other side of fear and excuses. Put down your cards, God is calling your bluff.
Catherine Harrison is president of Beyond Sight Ministries, Inc. She is an inspirational writer and motivational public speaker. She is a graduate of Baylor University, wife of plastic surgeon, Dr. Craig Harrison, and mother of three boys. Catherine holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She served as a missionary to Nigeria, Africa, with the International Mission Board. She is the co-author of two Bible studies, Walking by Faith and Not by Sight, and Is the Mission Impossible? You may contact Catherine at www.beyondsight.org or Catherine@beyondsight.org.