Our Only Hope

Excerpt

~Chapter 1~

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Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. 


Psalm 57:1 


The bright lights from an occasional car passing in the opposite lane were the only things keeping me from nodding off in the passenger seat of the Bronco. I had agreed to accompany my friend Steve to his hometown so he could take care of some family business. Steve, who did not own a vehicle, asked if we could use my recently purchased Bronco with four-wheel drive, equipped with spotlights on the roof, running boards, and big tires for the road trip. The Bronco looked like something a Texas Ranger would drive, and I was extremely proud of my new truck! Steve offered to drive since he knew where we were going, and I gladly let him.  Steve and I were great friends, and after he finished his business, he showed me around the town. We went to a few nightclubs and stopped at a local diner to get something to eat before the long journey home. As we drove along, I thought about how different my life had been only a month before. Since birth, I had been visually impaired. I struggled to get through school, reading the large print on the outside of the books to barely pass each class. Then I dropped out of school in the ninth grade. My sight seemed to hold steady for many years, and then I found that I was struggling to see the keypad on the telephone. What I was able to see not long ago was now getting blurry. I panicked. “Am I going blind?” I asked myself. It didn’t help that I thought my sight would not improve. “What will I do for work? How will I take care of my family?” I was not one for feeling sorry for myself, but the thought of blindness was almost more than I could stand. I couldn’t help but to feel a little depressed.  I didn’t have any choice but to tell Shelly, my wife, that I believed I was going blind.  Afterward, she was very concerned, but unlike me, she was not willing to think the worst until I went to a doctor. That, however, was not my first choice. Since I’d been a child, the doctors had told me that I wouldn’t go blind, but now my eyes were getting worse. I wasn’t ready to hear more of the same from some brainiac doctor.  Eventually, I relented and went for an eye examination. Shelly insisted on seeing one of the best eye doctors in the area. I agreed, but I was sure it would not make any difference.  After hours of testing, I was getting anxious. The doctor arrived a short time later and said, “The bad news is that you have severe damage to your eyes since birth.”  To be kind, I shook my head as if to say, “I know,” but I was really thinking, No kidding! Is this what I sat here all day for? A moment later, I got the surprise of my life. The doctor said, “The good news is that I can improve your vision.”  What is this guy? I thought. A mad scientist?  “You have juvenile cataracts,” he said.  Shelly sat with her eyes widened, and I was in disbelief! After questioning the doctor, I realized that the cataracts were the reason for the declining vision. The doctor assured me that outpatient cataract surgery would significantly improve my vision. I scheduled the surgery, and a week later, Shelly drove me back to the eye center for the operation on my left eye. The surgery seemed simple enough, but I wanted to think that something would go wrong. What if his hand slips? I thought as panic began to overtake me.  However, it was a success, and the following week, the surgery on my right eye was equally successful. It seemed like in no time at all before the patches were off my eyes and I could see better than I could ever remember. I was amazed!  After going home that day, I started picking objects up just to look at them. I picked up the telephone, and it looked like the numbers were jumping out at me! Next, I looked at the newspaper and couldn’t believe that I could read the fine print.  A few minutes later, when Shelly came home from work, I was still picking up things to find out what I could actually see. “What are you doing?” she asked.  “I can see! I can really see things that I couldn’t see before!” Truly amazed at my sight, I exclaimed, “Do you think I could get my driver’s license?” After studying for a couple of weeks, I passed both sections of the driver’s test. The officer called my name to give me my driver’s license, and when he handed it to me, I just stood there and stared at it! I couldn’t believe that I was finely able to drive! The officer didn’t know what to make of me staring at the license and asked, “That is you, isn’t it?”  “Oh yes, it’s me!” I shouted as I hurried out the door to tell Shelly the good news.  Within a week, I bought the Bronco! As I was thinking about how that day had changed everything, I noticed Steve jerking his head to look at the dashboard. He looked over at me and said, “I forgot to stop and get gas, and we are almost out! I know if we turn around, we won’t make it back to town.”  We pulled off to the side of the road to regroup. “What do you think we should do?” Steve asked. “We know we will not make it back to town, and it appears that we passed the road heading west that would take us home.”  We were not sure how far the next gas station was, so I thought we should go for it. “Keep driving!” I said.  As Steve pulled back onto the highway, our eyes scanned the dark, desolate road for anything that resembled the illumination of a gas station sign.  A few minutes later, the Bronco’s engine began to sputter, and Steve navigated the vehicle to the berm of the road. He exclaimed, “That’s it! We are out of gas!”  We just sat there in silence, trying to come up with a brilliant plan that might get us out of what seemed like a very bad situation. Fortunately, I had a gas can in the back of the truck. As I retrieved it, Steve looked up the road in front of us and said, “There is a gas station up there somewhere, but I’m not sure how far.” He extended his hand for me to give him the gas can.  I said, “No, you stay here with the truck. I’ll go.”  That fateful decision would change my life and the lives of my family forever.  It would have made more sense for Steve to go. He could see better, and he knew the area. However, it was almost as if I felt a need to go, and I just couldn’t say no. I had to be the one to go for gas, and I had to do it on my own.  I took the gas can and started kicking stones as I walked up the side of the road. Before I was too far away, Steve yelled, “Are you sure you don’t want me to go?”  “No, I’ll be okay!” I shouted.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.