When I was younger, nearly every summer our family went on vacation. We could not afford fancy theme parks and hotels, so we would venture into nature. We drove the family van, camped at state parks, and explored the beauty of God’s creation up and down the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. By today’s standards we would have been considered poor. But my brother and I were certainly not aware of it. We saw and did things that many of our wealthier contemporaries only wished they had.
My father often spoke of places he’d seen and places he still wanted to visit. One dream of his was to visit the Western half of the United States; the Redwood forest, the Grand Canyon, Mount Ranier, and Yellowstone were among the places he mentioned.
Sadly, as he began to age his hearing and his vision both began to fail. Where once he could see like an eagle, he had trouble reading without magnification, items in the distance were fuzzballs. Cataracts had occluded his vision. Conversations, in which he could best anyone, became a distant memory as he chose not to engage rather than struggle to make out words. His world, once vast, started to shrink.
Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]–blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he. – Proverbs 29:18 amp
When your dreams and hopes for the future start to slip away, what is left?
Job found himself in a similar place. Nearly everything he once knew and held dear was gone and he did not have the strength or health to change a thing. His vision was occluded by grief and pain. David wrote about this form of blindness.
My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies. – Psalm 6:7
Job’s world was gone and only grief filled the void. Where once he had hope for a future, dreams for himself and his children, there was only desolation.
But I do not have the strength to endure. I do not have a goal that encourages me to carry on. Do I have strength as hard as stone? Is my body made of bronze? No, I am utterly helpless, without any chance of success. – Job 6:11-13
In order to rise above the circumstances of life, hope for something better must remain. Those who have found themselves in extraordinarily harsh circumstances, such as prisoners of war, earthquake survivors, and extreme injury victims all point to hope, a vision for something in the future, a goal, as being the thing that sustained them. But Job had lost all hope, his vision was so occluded that he could not see any goal other than to plead for death. However, if we read to the end of the book we know that everything changed.
Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, good life. – Job 42:16-17
And like Job, my father had family and friends to surround him in his sunset years. While he never did get to go West, he did experience the joy of seeing his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He got to hold them, to laugh with them, and to share in the joy of the life he had made possible for his posterity. He lived a long, good life.
Lord, thank you for my father. I just hope that I can be even half the man that he was. Please help me to invest in my posterity as he did in his. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Go West young man… Jan