Once I had the privilege of hearing Jennifer Rothschild at a Women of Faith conference. Jennifer is a well-known Christian author and speaker, and she has been blind since she was a teenager. Hearing her testimony of faith through literal dark circumstances was inspiring. I know often times we hear great speakers and it is hard to remember all they say, but one comment that Jennifer made that day has stayed with me since I heard her many years ago. She said, “If God restored my sight and I could see anything that I wanted to, of course I would like to see my husband’s face, the faces of my two sons, and my parents, but right there with seeing the people that I love the most, I would want to see the promises from God written in the Bible. Words on pages I have heard but not seen in so long. Words I trust and live by. Words that are trustworthy and true.”
So many times I think about how this woman has never seen her husband or two grown children. She has not seen her sweet parents’ faces since she was around sixteen, yet she longs to see the words printed in the Bible as much as she longs to see these people. Makes me stop and think. How many times do I let my Bible sit unopened and unread? How many times do I myself take those words of life for granted? Makes me thankful for my sight and things I can visually see, but I am also thankful for things unseen too because that is what hope is all about. We are all blind in a sense just like Jennifer. We can’t see the future; we have no idea what tomorrow really holds. All we really have for certain are those words in the Bible, promises of truth and hope.
When Holt’s accident happened, the youth of our church were meeting each Sunday night at our house. The accident occurred right before Thanksgiving when holiday events for the young people had been planned, so those events allowed our youth to have other places to meet for a couple of weeks as we dealt with being at the hospital and having the funeral. The first Sunday after Thanksgiving, the youth would be back on their regular schedule which meant they would be meeting at our house. Now I could have said, “No way do I feel like having anything ‘normal’ at my house at this time,” and believe me, my human emotions felt that way. But something deeper inside my heart told me otherwise. It became very important to me for those young people to come back to our house, Holt’s house, and see a family who believed in what they could not see. I desperately wanted those young people to know that the Rowland’s have hope. I wanted them to know that the God we serve and love is real. His word is true and can be trusted.
The best way I felt I could do this was to force myself to take all of my Christmas decorations out of the attic and make my house look like a house ready to celebrate Christmas. I put up our tree and tried my best to make our home feel cheerful and merry. It was not easy. My mind told me to do otherwise and ignore the season, but something in my heart wanted hope to win. When the youth showed up that Sunday night, the Rowland’s house was ready to visibly show hope.
Just like Jennifer sometimes I cannot see. My future is dark and hidden from view. If I could only see one verse that could inspire me for the rest of my life, I know my choice. Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” I have read those words over and over since Holt’s accident, staring at each word. Thinking hard what every single word means for me and my loved ones. What every single word means for Holt. I believe those words are not just there for the living but for those already in heaven too.
We all need hope. We cannot see it with our natural eyes, but when our hearts look much deeper, hope is there. It’s in our answered prayers, and it’s the peace we feel when those answers are not what we want or expect. Hope is there whether we see it or not. Hope is real.
Before Jesus was born, the prophets foretold of a hope that would one day come. Hundreds of years passed as people held out hope for a savior that would change the world. When Jesus was born, hope walked on the earth. Helping, healing, teaching, serving, and loving, He gave us perfect examples of hope time and time again. After Jesus ascended to heaven, a new form of hope came to dwell in the form of the Holy Spirit. Jesus in our hearts and working through our lives. We can be those same examples to one another that Jesus was to us, but we have to realize that it’s not with our natural eyes that we see it. God’s Holy Spirit uses people to encourage one another in order to show hope, in order for people to see Him.
Jesus is still alive, so we still have a reason to hope. It’s not in our Christmas decorations or the gifts we buy. No, it’s because of the greatest gift ever given. And even though I wasn’t alive to see Jesus for myself, God’s word tells me that gift was given for me. To give me hope and to make a way for my future now and forever.
Without hope we are all permanently blind. I do not want to live what is left of my life that way. I want to see all of Jesus I can see every single day, and I want you to see it too. That is why I write this blog, and that is why I am going to continue to share all that God does through our lives and our foundation. I don’t want you blinded for one second by Satan’s ploys. Hope is real, and The Holt Rowland Foundation is just one small example of proof.