A baby camel asked his mother, "Why do we have such large hoofs on our feet?"

 She looked down toward him. "God made us that way for a very special reason. The big hoofs are to keep us from sinking into the sand."
"Oh! So why do we have long eyelashes?"

"It's to protect our eyes from the sand."

"Why the big humps?"

"That is to store fat and have enough energy to go long distances in the hot desert!"

"I see!" The baby camel stretched his neck and looked up at his mother. "The big hoofs are to keep from sinking into the sand, the long eyelashes are to keep the sand out of our eyes, and the humps are to store energy to travel long distances…then what are we doing in this cage in the middle of a zoo?"

Like the camel, I had asked the same kind of questions. When an incurable retinal disease robbed my sight, I initially locked myself in a cage of self-pity and bitterness. At thirty-two, and with three small sons and a husband who needed me, blindness mocked my life with cruelty. Helpless, I paced back and forth, my steps were heavy with grief.
 
Months later, desperate, anxious, and exhausted from pacing inside that gloomy cage, something nudged me to see beyond my circumstance and past my misfortune. Through the fog of gloom, my heart saw the truth and the reality I had missed: Jesus with outstretched hand, holding the key to unlock the door. As he did, He whispered, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32 NIV).

I swallowed hard. Heavens! What was I thinking? Living in deception, I missed the truth of His love, His compassion, and faithfulness. Unaware of this reality, those bars were self-imposed. And worst of all, I'd supported them with the cold metal of my negative attitude.

But now, with God's truth swirling in my heart, all changed. My hearing became more acute to His Word: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future" (Jeremiah 29:11NIV).

Equipped with His reassurance, His promise of hope, and His guidance for my future, those bars broke down and I stepped out into the desert of life. I trudged through the heat with determination and drive. I endured the blistering sun with perseverance and tenacity. I quenched my thirst with fresh insights from God's wisdom and guidance. And the hoofs of confidence kept me from sinking into the sand of insecurity.

Thinking ahead, I made sure I'd stored a healthy supply of His Word with gratitude. Yes, grateful for what He allowed me to have, to do, and the opportunities He planned for me. Thankfulness sang in my heart. I took large gulps of my new attitude, big enough to take me through the long haul.

Goodness gracious. Each time I reached another point in my journey, my eyes saw a whole new world with opportunities to make a difference, to try new avenues to find joy, and to savor a tastier side of life. Best of all, I was delighted with the truth that through Christ, I could live in freedom—complete and permanent.

Bars come in all sizes and shapes. Some are physical; others are emotional or even mental. But none can withstand God's mighty power to bring them down, to level obstacles, and open the sturdiest locks.

So, batting my long eyelashes to keep out the sand of discouragement, I set an example for my sons. And I challenged them to find gratitude in all things. Through Christ, they'll know the freedom from setbacks, adversity or trials.

December 29, 2009


Janet Perez Eckles lacks physical sight, but uses her insight to impart inspirational messages across the country. She's a freelance writer and contributor to twelve books including the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She authored "Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life." www.janetperezeckles.com