Walking by Faith, Not by Sight, Part 2
About the Guest
Jennifer Rothschild thought college would give her freedom from the restrictions of her recent loss of sight. What she learned and the people she met during those first weeks at college shaped her life for decades to come.
Jennifer Rothschild thought college would give her freedom from the restrictions of her recent loss of sight.
Walking by Faith, Not by Sight, Part 2
Bob: Are you facing difficult circumstances today, and you find yourself in a place of despair, a lack of hope? It may be that God has brought you to this place for the purpose of brokenness. Here’s Jennifer Rothschild:
Jennifer: If it is not well with your circumstance that is not what makes you broken! That is simply what God can use to introduce you to your own brokenness. Do not resist that which God has allowed to shape you and refine you and make you a true woman, a woman of beauty that is refined only through experiencing the brokenness that comes in this life.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, June 25th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Jennifer Rothschild has found herself in difficult places, in places of despair, but she has also tasted the sweet fruit of brokenness.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. You know, letting a child go off to college is a hard release point for every parent, but you stop and think about what it must have been like for Jennifer Rothschild’s mom and dad. Here, their daughter was blind. She had started losing her sight when she was 12, and by the time she was 15 or 16, she could not see, and here they were about to release her to head to college, and it was a risky step for them and for her!
Dennis: Yes, and the interesting thing is she thought she was ready, right up until the moment when the door opened and she stepped out and started her journey toward college, and then she experienced what many of us have which is fear. Sometimes it’s a terrifying fear that paralyzes us, or maybe it’s just a fear that is one of worry and anxiety and just afraid of some choice or some decision that we have to make, and it’s interesting to hear how she handled her own fear.
Bob: Yes. Jennifer Rothschild shared this story with ladies who were at the True Woman ‘10 Conference in Chattanooga back in March, and I happened to be there. I was the MC for the event and had a chance to do a workshop. It was a great event and it was interesting to hear how women responded and how they could relate, even though these were all women who were sighted women, they could relate with the anxiety and the fear and what Jennifer had experienced as she shared stories from her own life.
Let me just mention that the True Woman ‘10 conferences that Revive Our Hearts is hosting this year are going to be in Indianapolis coming up in September and in Fort Worth coming up in October. There is still an opportunity for women to come out. It’s a great two-day conference for women, and I’m going to be there again as the emcee and looking forward to it. They got a great line up of speakers who are going to be there.
Dennis: This would be a great opportunity not only to come as a woman, but maybe bring a friend or bring your daughter. It would be a great experience to come and bring a teenage daughter with you or an adult daughter and just go through the sessions together. You’re going to get a fresh vision for what it looks like to be a woman today.
Bob: Well, there’s a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com to the True Woman website so you can get more information if you want. But let’s dive in here. We’re going to hear Part Two of Jennifer Rothschild’s message on walking by faith and not by sight.
Jennifer: On August 14th, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, it hit me. I’m about to go off to college and I don’t know anybody! And who’s going to help me?! And I remember calling my mom out into the front yard and crying and negotiating, and lamenting, “Mom, I can’t do this! I don’t know what I was thinking! I can’t go to college! Who’s going to tell me what food’s on my plate?! How am I really going to know it’s safe to cross the street in the middle of the campus?! How am I really going to know…?!” I was terrified!
My mom who wiped away her own tears said, “Jennifer, you have to go to college. You chose to go to college. You have prepared to go to college, and you got to go,” but I don’t think I completely understood, on August 14th, when my mother wiped away her own tears, what she was really dealing with.
But several years ago, I was on the phone with a writer for a magazine. She was doing a great interview, and near the end of this interview, she said to me, “I’d love to talk to your mother. Do you think your mom would be willing?” I said, “You know, I’ll ask.” But I really thought my mom wouldn’t be interested, and here’s the reason. My mom is a one-on-one lover of people, and she will give and pour out, but she’s very private, and this kind of setting probably wouldn’t be one she was comfortable with, and I totally honor and respect that.
But even so, I called and I said, “Mom, would you be willing?” She hesitated. It wasn’t for the reasons I expected. She said, “I can’t. I can’t answer those questions for that writer because to her, your blindness is a story, but to me your blindness is a wound. It really hurts.” You see, that’s the truth of life. It hurts. It’s not well with your circumstances, and when it’s not well with your circumstances, you can ask, “What if? What if?”
But I want to remind you of something I learned from my mother that day that she never actually spoke with her lips. My mom carries a burden for my blindness that I believe is much heavier than the burden I actually carry for myself, and there are some women in this room who know exactly what I meant by that statement, because you’re a hero.
Whether you’re a mom who has a child who’s born with some really special needs, whether you’re a daughter who’s watching your parents age and it is breaking your heart, whether you’re a wife who is looking at that husband who has just received a diagnosis and you are not only terrified for him, but you’re terrified for yourself. You know what it feels like to bear that heavy weight of compassion and empathy.
Here’s what I want to remind you of: God’s grace is sufficient. In 2 Corinthians 12, Verses Eight and Nine, the apostle Paul said to God, “I got something in my life that hurts.” He called it a thorn, and it hurts, and whether you possess the thorn or someone you love has it, it hurts. And when Paul asked the Father, “Take it away! Take it away! Make it go away!” God responded with grace, because thorn removal isn’t sufficient in and of itself. Only grace is sufficient.
So those of you who have the responsibility to watch that person you love carry that heavy burden, may I just remind you that what God has given me as the one who carries the burden of blindness, what God has given that child, that parent, that sister, that friend that you love who has to carry the burden of cancer, autism, or Alzheimer’s, God has given us participant grace.
It’s adequate grace to participate with the burden, but you, my hero, sister, who has to watch and cry and pray those silent prayers and cry those invisible tears, God’s given you what I call “spectator grace.”
Now, that’s not in 2 Corinthians, though I’m thinking, when I get to Heaven, Paul and I will discuss that.
The point is whether God has granted you the sufficiency of His grace in the package of being a participant or a spectator, His grace is sufficient. So rest in His grace. Rest. Rest in His grace. God’s grace in Titus 2:11 is what equips us and powers us to say no to ungodliness, but His grace is also what equips us and empowers us to cease our striving and allow Him to be the One who wields and works within us for His good pleasure. So rest.
I was in church last year-well I go every Sunday…
Just to clarify! One Sunday last year, I was in church, and our teacher in small group was going through the book of Luke, and he was at the place of discussing the Good Samaritan, and I remember sitting there and thinking, “Oh great! I know this story!” And I know you never do this, but as soon as Cliff started reading about the Good Samaritan, I started making my grocery list, and thinking how I was going to help Connor with his homework that afternoon, and I caught myself.
And as I caught myself, I said, “Lord, I’m sorry! I want to be very present in this story. I want to be present because whether it’s Your story, whether it’s my story, whether it’s the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus told, every story has the potential of being God’s story, so we don’t want to miss it. So I asked God, “Help me in this story, Lord. Show me who I am.” I’ve done this for years. You may have, too.
Cliff was reading about the man who was on the journey and he got beat up by robbers and he was left for dead on the side of the road. Then Cliff began to read how some men came by him: the priest, the Levite, and they, of course, were too busy or had other reasons for not helping the poor, broken injured man. But then along came the Samaritan, and of course, so countercultural, he helped the man who was wounded. I began to weep as I heard this scripture read. I don’t want to be spiritually elite. I want to recognize my own brokenness.
And here’s the thing: Blindness is not what makes me broken. If it is not well with your circumstances, that is not what makes you broken! That is simply what God can use to introduce you to your own brokenness. Therefore do not resist that which God has allowed to shape you and refine you and make you a true woman, a woman of beauty that is refined only through experiencing the brokenness that comes in this life.
On this stage, I don’t know if you can see it, but I have a stool. I didn’t always use a stool when I spoke. Several years ago, I was invited to be a guest with the Women of Faith tour, and if you’ve ever been to one of their events, it’s in an arena and their state is in the round. So the crew and my husband, who I call Dr. Phil, by the way (laughter), came up with a way by which I could navigate the entire stage and therefore speak to every element of the audience, and they did so by putting rugs in the shape of a plus sign.
And at the end of each rug, there was a monitor, and I would walk toward each rug. I would hear the monitor, I would feel where the rug ended, I would go to the next one, and it worked! I could navigate! And you know what I loved about it? I felt normal!
About six months ago, I went through some real changes. Some of it’s just my age. Some of it’s just what happens when you mourn a loss through the stages of life. Sometimes it takes you off guard. And I just was really struggling. And one of the ways I was mostly impacted was through my orientation. I would stand up to teach to the left wall, and I would have no idea I was speaking that way. I’d hear my husband and my assistant coughing wildly to try and help me know where to look.
First couple of times, of course, I would laugh it off, and then it just wasn’t funny. And God graciously—because it is grace that empowers us to respond according to His kindness and His will—has helped me to refasten the bridle of blindness onto my life and allow it to not be that which defines me, but once again, allow it to be that which refines me and that which He uses as a cross in my life, a place where I can surrender.
A guy named Greg sent me an email recently that said, “I have cancer. I have faith. I don’t know how to have both.” We began an email correspondence, and after about six months, he emailed and said that his cancer was in remission, and I was thrilled. Then I received and email months later, from Greg, “Dear Jennifer, it’s Greg again. The cancer’s back and I am so scared.”
I read my next email, and of course, my computer talks also, and so as I was listening to the next email, it was from a woman. I remembered her. She had been at one of my conferences just a few weeks earlier. She had been very pregnant, and she wrote to tell me that her baby was born…stillborn. She was devastated.
And you know what my spiritual response was? “Oh God, why?! Why cancer? Why stillborn babies?! You can make babies be born on earth, why did you let it be born in heaven?”
“And God, why blindness? Why?”
I went my piano and just tried to process what I had read and felt and thought and prayed, and as I was playing the piano, it was as if, in my mind’s eye, an image of the cross appeared. And my questions transitioned from “Why cancer?” and “Why blindness?” to “Why grace?” That’s what we really don’t deserve! Why forgiveness? Why peace? How dare we be spiritually elite when we, as the broken man on the side of the road, have been given that which we don’t deserve.
When you come to the cross, you’ll realize that God has made it well with your soul. You may struggle with so many “what ifs” in your life, but when you come to the cross, you see what it is, and what it is is divinely unfair and amazingly equipping that you are able to walk with grace in this life. So don’t resist.
I know the many women in this room have been to church, but I’m asking you this morning, “Have you been to the cross?”
Bob: Well we are listening again today to a message from Jennifer Rothschild shared at the True Woman ‘10 Conference in Chattanooga earlier this year. Just as she was closing, I was thinking, Dennis, of a quote I heard last summer from Larry Crabb, who said, “If you don’t see the Gospel as the solution to your problem, then you don’t understand your problem.”
And it really does call on us to adjust our perspective on life and on the issues we’re facing in life.
Dennis: And, undoubtedly, Bob, we’re speaking to a listener or two who is challenged by something he or she is afraid of, perhaps a fork in the road that you’ve got to make a decision and you’re afraid you’ll fail. You’re afraid, maybe like Jennifer, as she was going off to college, “Man can I do this?”
And I just want to remind you of 2 Timothy1, Verse 7. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” Jesus Christ went to the cross and died there so that He can rescue us from our sins, our selfishness. But He also went to the cross so he could ultimately defeat death, be seated at the right hand of the Father, and He can send the Holy Spirit. And He’s given us a spirit not of fear, but of love, of sound mind, and of self-control.
I think for every listener who’s facing something right now and just needs to be reminded of the truth about God, God is for you. He has offered the Gospel to redeem you from your sins, but also to help you today with the issues you’re facing and your relationships, your life, your work, whatever it is you’re facing. God will meet you there.
Bob: Well, and I think Jennifer is an illustration of that. I think her life really gives testimony to exactly what you’re saying. And, in fact, she’s has just written a devotional book for women called Fresh Grounded Faith, where she offers a variety of illustrations from her own life about how God has met her in difficult circumstances and sustained her and given her grace and hope, how the gospel has been her source of life. And we got copies of her book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.
You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about Jennifer Rothschild’s new book, Fresh Grounded Faith. Again, it’s a devotional book for women. Our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also request a copy of the book when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” and then the word TODAY.
Let me also mention, when you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com, there’s a link to the True Woman ‘10 website. If you’d like more information about the upcoming True Woman conferences that are being hosted-one in Indianapolis in September and then one in Fort Worth in October. Jennifer was speaking at one of these True Woman conferences back in the spring in Chattanooga-and they are great events for women-hosted by our friends at Revive Our Hearts.
I’m going to be at both of the conferences as the emcee and hope that we’ll have a chance to see many of our FamilyLife Today listeners out for these True Woman ‘10 conferences. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com, click on the link to the True Woman ‘10 website, and consider attending one of these upcoming events.
In fact, I think today is the last day. They’ve been offering a discount, a kind of an early registration rate, and I think today is the last day for that, so you might want to go today and check the information out and get registered today. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, click on the True Woman link and that will get you all the information you need.
Now let me also say a quick word of thanks to those of you who support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. I think most of our listeners, if you’ve been listening for any length of time you know that FamilyLife Today, like most of the programs you hear on this station, we’re listener-supported. If it weren’t for folks like you who, from time to time, either go online or give us a call and make a donation to help support the ministry, we would not be able to continue to be here.
So we appreciate those of you who, either when you hear a particular message where God really speaks to you through that message, or just, as you stop to think about how God’s using the ministry of FamilyLife in your own life, you call or go online and say, “I’m going to make a donation. I can send them $20 or $50” or whatever it is you can afford. We appreciate whatever support you’re able to provide.
This month, if you can help with a donation of any amount, we’d like to say thank you by sending you a copy of a book written by the founder of the Chick-fil-A restaurants: Truett Cathy. He has taught a Sunday school class for preteen boys for many years, and he wrote a book not long ago about how to instill character in the lives of young men. It’s called, It’s Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men. And again, we’d love to send you a copy as our way of saying thank you for your support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
You can make your donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com, and if you do, type the word “BOYS” in the key code box that you find on the online donation form so that we know to send you a copy of Truett’s book, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. Make your donation by phone and just mention that you’d like a copy of the book on building boys and we’re happy to send it out to you. We do appreciate your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
And we hope you have a great weekend! I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to talk to a four-time national champion, all-American gymnast. She’s in the UCLA Hall of Fame: Kim Hamilton Anthony is our guest on Monday, and she’s got quite a story to tell:
Kim: What I remember as a youngster with my father is just him wanting me to be perfect, wanting my mother to be perfect, and us never really being able to please him.
Bob: Hope you can be here for that. I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back on Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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