He loved the Lord, and he thought the Lord loved him.
He had a good job at a soap factory. He had a loving wife and family. He had dear friends.
Then, he started having to squint to read the newspaper. Thinking he needed glasses, he went to the eye doctor and then an eye specialist. He found that the soap fumes were slowly blinding him, and he would fully lose his sight in the next few months. The blindness was irreversible.
He lost his job.
His wife, unable to cope with his depression and his increased drinking, took the kids and left him.
His dear friends were so pained at seeing him ruin his life that even the non-fair weather friends deserted him.
He left his home taking whatever he could fit into an old soap box he kept from his first days at the factory.
He became a nomad travelling from place to place and drink to drink.
On a very cold, January day, he found himself alone and freezing. He fell into a deep sleep on a church step.
He began to dream.
In the dream, he could see! He was sitting at the foot of a man he understood to be Jesus. Jesus was smiling at him. At first, he turned away from Jesus.
Jesus, still smiling, asked, “Why do you turn from me, my son?”
“’Cause you took my sight, my family, my friends. Everything I had. You made me a homeless drunk! And, all I did was love you! Why would you do this to me?”
Jesus reached out to him and touched his shoulder. Jesus’s warmth flooded through him. He understood what he had to do.
He woke to a pastor gently shaking him by the shoulder. He asked the pastor for a Bible. The pastor, surprised by the request, came back with a Bible, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a cup of milk, and a list of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. It was the first time, he had been given anything. The small gifts moved him and made him secure that the dream had been a sign.
I saw him standing on a box waving his arms like a crazy bird. I walked to the other side of the street. I was in no mood to be accosted by an insane, homeless man.
I heard him yell to me, “Do you fear God?”
I thought, “I fear my Dad and the government and snakes. But, do I fear God? What does he really have to do with anything?”
I pretended I didn’t hear him.
Later that day, my step-mother called to tell me my Dad had died.
I felt numb.
As I walked home, I saw the man on the box again.
A voice like my Dad’s whispered to me to listen to this man if I ever wanted to feel again. The voice was so commanding I had to obey.
“So, what’s your story, old man?” I asked.
He smiled at me and said, “He made me blind, so I would see…”