By Bill Blauvelt
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)
Life’s challenges can provide a unique opportunities to grow in contentment. Given that a person spends sixty percent of life at work, aging and physical impairment can appear counterproductive and lead to discouragement. At seventy, I am now almost completely blind, and I rejoice in working for our Father in ways I never dreamed.
I took early retirement from my profession as a teacher and rental property manager. In both professions, I was often able to extend mercy and generosity, even when not the most prudent business decision. Now, it is I who am the humble recipient of mercy and generosity.
I was unhappy when I had to give up driving eleven years ago. However, I have not missed a CIC meeting, a social event, a bridge game, or other activities for lack of a ride. Family, friends, and many brothers and sisters in the Lord are constantly offering rides. Moreover, I’ve met many delightful Uber drivers. I rarely travel alone and enjoy great fellowship with many good Samaritans on the road.
When I started using the white cane, I felt like a fraud. With the prompting of the Lord and encouragement from my family and friends, I accepted my situation and tried to stay positive. I was lovingly reminded that without the cane I would likely hurt someone or myself. I literally tripped and fell many times. It was also pointed out to me that without the cane I was often perceived as rude because I bumped into or cut in front of others.
After struggling with my pride the Lord helped me realize that I had received a gift in the form of my “Jesus stick.” I noticed that my need brought out Christ in others. People go out of their way to kindly assist me. Store clerks and strangers check to see how they might help. They open doors or touch my arm to let me know it’s safe to cross the street. Even when I am confident of what I am doing or where I am going, I experience the God’s grace and love in accepting help. Through prayer, reflection, and Scripture I have learned that our need for help has always been part of God’s design and that both the helpers and I are blessed in the exchange.
Accepting the Lord’s plan has opened new opportunities in my life. Rather than dwelling on what I can’t do, I have been able to focus creatively on new goals. Vision loss has placed new restrictions on life that highlighted all people’s need for independence, mobility, and self-actualization. In the past I had, no doubt, often taken these for granted. I have grown in empathy for others who struggle with limitations. My visual impairment has inspired me to reach out in numerous opportunities to mentor and counsel needy, as well as visually-impaired individuals.
One of the greatest challenges for the blind is isolation. At ninety-four, my father is completely blind. I saw his need for interactive recreation with family and friends. With neuropathy in his hands, Braille has proven very difficult for him to use. My dad loves cards. With a hole punch and standard playing cards, I invented a unique set of cards which enable the blind to have fun interaction. Seven years ago I started a nonprofit that has allowed me to distribute the cards throughout the U.S., Europe and even India.
With the encouragement of my daughters, I finally got around to writing and illustrating my children’s beloved stories for my thirteen grandchildren. Each one includes a “Scriptural moral” which has allowed me to share with them verses and thoughts that are important to me.
I give the Lord all the credit because inventing, writing, volunteering, and using my “Jesus Stick” were not on my radar ten years ago. Without my handicap, I would not have found these new ways to work for our Father. I am deeply content.
9 thoughts on “New Focus Inspires Good Work”
As a new retiree your story is inspiring and a great reminder that Christ expects us to serve Him even through retirement.. I am so inspired to hear about your amazing work even through your infirmaries. Your spirit and faith in Christ is evident and encourages me as I face new challenges associated with aging. May God bless you as you continue to spearhead new and innovative approaches to reveal Christ’s presence in our lives in all circumstances! Thank you!
Thank you for this testimony. It’s a great reminder that God is always working things for the good. It is also a great reminder that we can live a life trusting him. When I run into these kinds of limitations or discrepancies in life the battle that goes on inside of me I have found to be the battle of whether or not I trust God. He is good all the time. Do I remember that?
Bill, thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us. One lesson I see from it is that God never stops giving us opportunities to be his presence to others, no matter what disabilities and obstacles we may experience.
WOW! What an amazing story. Thank you, Bill. I intend to tell it to my CIC brother in Christ here in Duluth, MN who is 62 and now bLind with his “Jesus stick.” My brother Dean no longer attends our CIC meetings, because of his blindness but your story has inspired me to work with our Father to help him get to our meetings again. God bless you, brother.
I would love to send your brother a deck of my cards for the blind if he has an interest. Our family has enjoyed many hours with my father who is totally blind and still plays cards with my special deck. Thank you for your comments. God bless
Bill, such an inspiring story! God bless you. You are an inspiration to us all especially when we feel sorry for ourselves for the “little problems” we have.
Bill, Great story. As a fellow, former educator I also recognize that retirement brings us opportunities to serve others. Currently, I am Fran’s primary caregiver after she suffered a stroke two years ago. I had just finished my 145-page memoir and asked God for another task to his will. While it has restricted my attendance at some meetings, I am still able to meet with my challenge group.
God Bless you and your family.
Sorry I missed your response last week. Due to travel and the restructuring of CIC I miss seeing you and other brothers. I have always valued our time together, you friendship, and your wisdom. I look forward to reading your story. I will pray for you and Fran.
Bill, your story is an encouragement to me as I discern how to serve the Lord going forward. You’re an inspiration to me to look for the Father’s plan for my life.