On my first day of teaching college students this past semester, in walked a young man carrying a walking stick, poking his way to a seat in front of the classroom. While looking down at the class roster from the corner of my eye, I quickly determined that he was blind. I said to myself, “This is going to be interesting.” I had no prior notice or plan of the accommodations I needed to make for a blind student. Furthermore, I had never taught a blind student to read. I mumbled a quick prayer to myself and took a deep breath.
Then, I proceeded to welcome my class, and I conducted an icebreaker activity where I asked each student to think of an adjective that started with the first letter of their name and introduce themselves. For example, I introduced myself as “Loyal Linda.” I am going to say this student’s name is Joseph. He proceeded to introduce himself as Joyful Joseph. Immediately, my heart leaped at the adjective he chose, joyful, despite his blindness.
I have learned a lot from Joseph. He had perfect attendance throughout the entire semester. He used his computer for everything, which converts text to speech. Many students in the class would often spontaneously grab his arm and help him move around the room or relocate to the computer center. Joseph is always happy, and he tries very hard. Whenever I noticed how he poked his walking stick to find his seat or the door, I would gently guide him with my voice. When I see Joseph on campus outside of my class, I make a point of saying hello, and he instantly recognizes my voice and responds politely. Joseph relies on his ability to hear for most things.
Throughout this experience, I am reminded of the verse in 2 Corinthians 5:7:
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Believing is far more than seeing. It is the ability to put trust in the Lord for our desires and pleas without seeing or knowing the outcome. If I could see everything that lies ahead when I pray, speaking for myself, I probably would not exercise as much faith. Also, when there is no sight, individuals like Joseph rely on other senses, such as hearing and listening.
In walking by faith, do I rely on listening to my Savior’s voice to guide me? I noticed that Joseph hears and recognizes my voice and starts walking in the right path to the exit or to his seat the moment I make a sound. If I remain quiet, he walks in the wrong direction or bumps into things.
Based on my own experience, when I do not exercise faith and attempt to rely on my own vision for things, it is usually a disaster. I need to be in tune to my Savior’s voice because He gently guides me, or else I may as well have a walking stick and fumble in darkness if I refuse to heed His voice. I must put the verse into practice, “For we walk by faith, not by sight,” which will always steer me in the right direction and remove my spiritual blindness.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.