By Terry James
“I believe what you have is retinitis pigmentosa,” the retinal specialist said after the test. It was what I believe he called a scleral exam.
In conducting the test, the retinal specialist uses the lower skeletal bone surrounding the eyeball as a fulcrum. He places a hard, plastic instrument that looks like a small shoe spoon beneath the eyeball, and then uses the lower bone forming the eye socket to pop the eyeball out to some extent.
I once heard Sugar Ray Leonard, the welterweight and later middle weight boxing champion say that he would rather go fifteen rounds with his chief nemesis Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns than to again have that examination. Leonard suffered a detached retina from about, so had to have the same type of exam.
I know exactly what Mr. Leonard meant. It was extremely painful and excruciatingly lengthy. The specialist then keeps putting the pressure at different points along the lower eye-socket bone to best pop the eyeball out while shining a painful light on the retina. He then stops to make scribbles on some sort of chart before returning to torturing the patient.
The exam was complete in about forty minutes. The doctor then put his thumb and index finger to chin and said, “I believe what you have is retinitis pigmentosa.”
My obvious question was, of course: “What’s that?”
“Well, it’s one we don’t know much about. It’s a degeneration of the rods and cones that make up the retina.”
“What does that mean?”
He said very matter-of-factly, as if giving a clinical report to a student, “It means the retina is being dissolved.”
“What does it mean about my being able to see?” I naturally asked.
He was looking at some sort of book. “It says here that most with the disease go blind.”
That was all in 1977. They didn’t know much about the disease at that time. They know a lot more today, but still can do nothing about the malady–i.e., it can’t be cured, although they are reportedly making strides toward artificially restoring some degree of vision.
Now, to all who are having retinal problems and must face a retinal specialist’s exam, I must offer this bit of comfort: They now have technological means (machinery) to do–with painless procedures–what the doctors did during that scleral exam. Never fear: You most likely will never have to face the procedure Sugar Ray and I had to face.
I am also commissioned, however, to forewarn a procedure that is going to be infinitely more painful: the Great White Throne judgment. It involves examination of a world of people going, well, blind–spiritually blind.
Thankfully, the Lord of Heaven has been with yours truly all these years of going blind. And, that’s exactly what God has made it possible for me to do. That is, He has kept me going while physically blind.
I’ve been blessed beyond measure by His providing all necessary to accomplish things on His behalf in writing, speaking, and other ministry. I continue to, literally, keep going while totally blind, through God’s grace and permissive will.
What God gives us to do, He makes clear. It might take some time, but, eventually, ultimately, He will dissolve the haze and make our pathway clear.
Of course, we must make every effort to obey. As Dr. Charles Stanley puts it, “Obey God no matter what, and leave all the consequences to Him.”
Proverbs contains the Scripture that encapsulates this directive from on high: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). It is with that divine imperative that my pathway was made clear on Good Friday, April 22, 2011. I’ve written of it many times in this and other forums, as well as spoken about the profound intervention God performed that Good Friday.
I died clinically three times because of the widow-maker heart attack. I knew precisely each time my heart stopped. I was instantaneously in the presence of heavenly beings–beautiful young men and women who were jubilant and inviting me to join them.
The third time my heart stopped and I was with them, I was running with them, as if in a glorious victory celebration.
The Holy Spirit has shown me on a number of occasions since that this was Hebrews 12:1-3 in action. The specific celebration was to impress upon my spirit that the Lord approves of, in particular, the message that Jesus is on the very cusp of returning. Even more specifically, I have had it validated in the deepest reaches of my spiritual heart that He is coming very soon in the Rapture for the Church–all born-again believers, according to Romans 10:9-10.
This will occur before God’s wrath and judgment must fall on an incorrigibly wicked world of rebellious God-deniers. And this gets back to that world of people who are going, blind. Sadly, they think they see clearly their pathway ahead. They believe humanistic endeavor can guide them to a preferable destination. But their vision is shortsighted. They suffer, you might say, from spiritual retinitis pigmentosa, at the basis of which is the soul-destroying infection called sin.
They keep going, while blind to truth, down that broad way that leads to destruction and the black abyss of eternity. So, my mission, my assignment, is to keep going, even though physically blind. Witness of Christ’s saving power is our heavenly mandate. That is what I intend to do. And, that is what you, as Christ’s representative on earth–His royal ambassador—are to do also.
The heavenly rewards for such faithful service are staggering to contemplate: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Our spiritual eyes must stay turned toward Heaven as we negotiate this darkening earthly traverse. The light of Jesus Christ will illuminate our pathway as we obey His commandment to go forth and witness of His power to save the soul, no matter how sin ridden.
Christ’s promises are beyond our ability to fully imagine. Things of unparalleled splendor and glory that we will experience at the moment of Rapture–or death, if we pass instantaneously through that doorway—are incomprehensible from this present perspective. Our vision will be made perfect at that time: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).