His Reassuring Whisper
by Janet Perez Eckles
While my friends and I munched our delicious salads on a hot Orlando summer day, we chatted about our adventures. “You’ve got to see these pictures of my trip. Let me get them out of my purse,” one of them said.
I gave a shy smile. Inside, dark thoughts attacked me. How I wished I could see those pictures and how I wished I could be independent, free to travel as she does. Secretly, I cursed the retinal disease that robbed my eyesight and forced me to stay home most of the time.
But I hid my disappointment behind a fake smile. “You guys will have to describe them to me,” I said. “Wish I could travel like you.”
“You can,” one friend said. “Airlines have assistance available for the blind.”
Assistance? Not the kind I needed. I first needed help in overcoming my apprehension of going anywhere alone. And I also had to possess enough boldness to ask for help.
For a long time, I went to bed with that sense of helplessness in my mind. I prayed for freedom and asked God for answers.
“It’s been years,” my cousin called on the phone from Bolivia. “You need to come and visit.”
She knew I had problems with my eyesight, but wasn’t aware of my complete blindness. Yet, I longed for a chance to go back home. How could I miss that opportunity? Visiting my hometown in Bolivia was a desire I’d tucked deep in my heart for years.
My sons were old enough to stay with my ever-supportive husband and the airline ticket was affordable.
Still, my muscles tightened at the thought of traveling alone with no eyesight. At night, I tossed in bed wondering if I was about to do a foolish thing. The “what ifs” filled my head—What if I missed my connecting flight out of the country? What if I ended up somewhere else? What if I tripped or fell on an escalator? Or what if I needed something but had no one to help?
But God was about to grant me the help I needed. While I listened to His Word, His message lit my heart. “Do not be anxious about anything,” God had said in Philippians 4.
And what followed in that verse had more clarity: “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7).
I gave a grin of delight. Thank you, Lord, for you will provide all I need. Thank you for the protection you will grant me. I praise you for the peace as I prepare, board the plane and reach La Paz. I praise you and thank you in advance.
Receiving the peace He promised, I dialed directory and contacted an airline, requesting a round-trip ticket from Orlando to La Paz, Bolivia.
“Anything else?” the airline rep asked.
I took a deep breath. “Yes,” I said. “I’m blind and wondered if you would have anyone to help me navigate through the airport?”
“Yes, ma’am,” she said, “Just a moment and I’ll document that in the system.”
I whispered a soft, “Thank you, Lord.”
Once in the airport, I sharpened my hearing to listen to announcements and to pick up sounds around me that told me what went on.
And in this journey, I learned a bit about the airline employee who helped me navigate through the airport. And I met folks who were interesting, helpful and some that were even fun. Once in La Paz, my cousin and I hugged and hugged at the reunion. I relished every moment of my visit to my hometown.
That first trip decades ago was the beginning of my life-time habit—to be grateful. Appreciating God’s way to open my spiritual eyes to see His protection to be real, His power to be available and His presence to be constant.
And now with resolve in my heart and confidence in my thoughts, I declare that my blindness is my biggest blessing. For through it, I can see my need to lean more on God. To trust in Him more and to recognize that He is the one who adds richness to my life.
He added wisdom as well. He showed me the path to freedom from fear and worry. Without these two destructive emotions, there’s room for sweet expectations during each trip I take.
And those trips, those traveling experiences sparked a new passion in me. The desire to inspire others who might be blind of their potential. And to encourage many who might be bound by their perceived limitations.
To accomplish this, God nudged me to impart illustrations of His limitless ability to help us overcome, thrive and triumph. And I share this through my story, my adventures and my own victories.
Each victory sparks more gratitude and in turn, more diligence to continue speaking. Like an airplane on a runaway, my career as an inspirational speaker took off. Dozens of trips across the country and also internationally now fill my calendar.
“Do you travel by yourself?” folks often ask.
The answer is a qualified ‘yes.’ But with white cane in hand, the Holy Spirit accompanies me on all my trips.
And as I plan each trip, what fills the suitcase of my heart is a positive attitude and gratitude for God’s promise to meet all my needs. And more importantly, a deep appreciation for the privilege of helping others see the best of life.
“Let’s set a date to get together,” my friends said as they called. “We have to hear about your adventures in South America.”
As we share lunch, I paint for them the picture of my visits. The people I met and inspired. The impact God made in their thinking through my story. And the transformation I see in their attitudes.
And my own resolve to be thankful gave me eyes to see beyond obstacles. To look at a new horizon. To anticipate fresh adventures. And during peaceful nights, to hear His constant reassurance that whispers in my soul.
God’s grace touched Janet Perez Eckles’ life for her to look beyond her physical blindness and become the author of four books, international speaker, radio host, missionary and Christian life coach. Janet would be honored to address your women’s group and have inspiration dance into the hearts of those who attend. www.janetperezeckles.com
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