People started realizing I was color blind when I was a small child. I was already wearing glasses, the thick horn rimmed ones that were standard issue back then. All of us kids were coloring with well used crayons. Go to any children’s Sunday school class or any preschool and look inside the crayon box. You will discover that many of the crayons have shed their wrapping (with help). That’s the way it was when we kids were coloring. I was grabbing what I thought were the correct colors and I was quite proud of my creation, with sky and grass and sun exhibiting the hues of perhaps some exotic planet elsewhere in the galaxy (or in a Steven Spielberg movie) but certainly not planet earth.
I was so color blind that, on my first day as senior pastor at one church, I was walking through the fellowship hall at my typical fast clip and slammed head first into a floor-to-ceiling pole in the middle of the room. The pole was invisible to me because of my color blindness, but the huge bump on my forehead was not invisible to anyone. It looked like the church had called a cyclops to be their new pastor.
On January 15, 2015 I was in an automobile accident and suffered multiple concussions. At the time I was senior pastor at Susquehanna Baptist Church in Independence, Missouri. On May 13, 2015 I was sitting in the Susquehanna Baptist Church sanctuary during a preschool graduation ceremony. The preschool kids were singing “The Color Song,” the one where they all have sticks with red or blue or green or yellow cardboard circles on the top of the sticks. In previous years there was a fun running gag. They would call me up there and hand me a stick. I would not know which color it was, of course, so I had no idea when to stand up or sit down. But I could not participate in the gag that year because I was still recovering from the concussions.
As I sat there watching and listening to the color song, I realized the room had changed. I was seeing colors. This is not a joke. I did not know WHAT colors I was seeing, but it did not take me long to learn the first four colors because the kids with each of the four colors kept standing up when cued by the song lyrics.
I am no longer color blind. What happened? There is absolutely no medical explanation. It is not humanly possible to suffer a concussion that changes the optics in your eyes. Here is what I know. 1) When I take online color tests, I now score very high. 2) Burnt orange is the best color ever. 3) After I announced to the church that I was seeing colors, a couple of people at Susquehanna Baptist Church told me they had been asking God to let me see colors before I die, because they thought it would be sad for their pastor to see colors for the first time in heaven. They had been praying that way since long before the accident. Neither of them was aware that the other was requesting this from God.
John 9 is an account of Jesus healing a man born blind. The religious leaders heard about it and began interrogating the man because Jesus had the nerve to make him better on the Sabbath. They kept quizzing him, trying to pressure him into saying Jesus was a sinner, until finally he blurted out, “I don’t know whether he is a sinner, but I know this: once I was blind, but now I can see.” (John 9:25)
The man used to be one way, and then he became another way, and all he knew to do was to point to Jesus as the reason for this change.
I cannot explain how or why I see colors. What I know is that I was colorblind and now I can see colors. I choose to thank God in Christ, because “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” (James 1:17)
What I love most about seeing colors is that now I have many more reasons every day to give thanks to God. Like the blind man in John 9, I used to be one way, and then I became another way, and all I know to do is to point to Jesus as the reason for this change. To me, that is easily the best thing about being able to see colors.
What is your version of the blind man’s story? “Once I was ____________ but now I can _____________.”
Do you have an ultimate Somebody to thank? If you are looking for One, I recommend Jesus.
Grace and peace,