If you are lucky enough, you know one.
The person who has great faith. The person who perseveres in spite of great difficulty. The person of strength. The person who does not struggle with their faith; they have great ease.
Dr. Willard begins Chapter 6 talking about that kind of person.
I have the privilege of knowing such a person. He is an inspiration to me.
I have known him for many years and I have seen him deal with one of the most devastating things that can happen to a person: death of photoreceptor cells in the central portion of the retina called the macula. He has had to deal with blindness now for 20 years.
I knew him before this happened. In fact he was one of my best friends in high school and was my college roommate at Western Kentucky University. He excelled in college, graduating at the top of the class, no small feat at a large university. He majored in accounting. Upon graduation, he landed a top job at a major accounting firm but eventually wanted to go back to grad. school and become a college teacher. We drifted apart for a while but I heard he got his Master’s in Colorado and his Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky. He came back to WKU to teach.
He excelled in the classroom. He was ranked as WKU’s top professor, again no small feat at a large university.
We would touch base from time to time over the years and he was always the same steady guy, a believer in God from the first time I knew him. A man who knows what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
What intervened: blindness.
I remember the day that I knew something was wrong. We were playing a round of golf and he absolutely could not see his ball in flight. I had to find his ball all day. He said that there were too many floaters in his eyes. Not too long after that I heard that he had this rare macular degeneration in his vision.
I spent some time with him and sure enough, he had serious vision problems.
There was one big difference: it did not seem to get him down.
Some of you may be thinking you did not spend 24/7 with him and you did not see him in his dark nights, the times when he cried out to God “Why?, the times when he just cried. Those times may have happened but he never showed them to me.
He just gets along with life. When others complain, he doesn’t. When others use lack of vision as an excuse, he doesn’t. When others lose their faith in God, he hasn’t.
To me he epitomizes great faith.
Dr. Willard says that great faith has an “ease” about it, “the quality of mercy is not strained.” He comments “most of what we think we see as the struggle of faith is really the struggle to act as if we had faith when in fact we do not.”
With my friend it is not a struggle. He has that ease.
Watch him read a menu in a restaurant. He will pull out of his pocket a lighted magnifier and put it on the menu and he will read it. He won’t make a big deal, he just does it.
When he needs to put a key card in a hotel door, he feels around until he finds the place and he inserts the key and if it does not work he tries and tries until it works. He won’t make a big deal, he just does it.
Watch him exercise on a hiking trail. I get a little worried as he navigates on uneven ground. I see him stumble from time to time but he values the workout more than the occasional stumble. If he does stumble, no big deal. He just keeps going on.
He used to beat me all of the time in golf, but now: well putt-putt is all we play and you might say, I have a decided advantage. I watch him do the best he can as he feels where the hole is. I win. He just keeps on trying.
His lack of struggle is amazing. His ease of faith is amazing.
My friend…[if you are reading in Chapter 6]…my certain centurion.