Echolocating God

I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

Psalm 16:8 (NLT)

Many of us can’t fully imagine what it must be like for people who suffer with blindness. As many blind people will tell you, they rely on their other senses in order to experience the world around them – mainly touch. They feel their way through the world. They use a cane to identify obstacles when they walk. They feel for walls or other vertical objects. They use their fingers to read braille. Their hands become their eyes. Of course, this only lets them experience objects are close by. They can’t feel a house from across the street, or even the garbage can that is a few feet away but out of reach. The object doesn’t exist until they feel it.

Then, there is a teenager named Ben Underwood. Ben is blind, yet experiences the world not through touch, but sound. Ben has taught himself to echolocate. If that term sounds familiar it’s because it is the same way that dolphins and bats are able to “see” for long distances. The sound waves they emit bounce off of objects and ricochet back to them. The sound of the returning object tells them not just where it is, but what it is. Ben does the same thing. Through a series of clicks and pops, he can navigate the world around him, and even identify things just by the reflecting sound waves, even if they are out of reach. (If you want to see it in action, check out Ben’s story here: https://youtu.be/fnH7AIwhpik)

Sometimes we experience God as the blind experience the word. Because we can’t see Him, we rely on whether or not we can feel Him to know if He is near. However, this only allows us a glimpse into our surroundings. Just because we can’t feel His presence doesn’t mean He isn’t there. Sometimes He is just out of reach, or not where we expect Him to be. But, He is there. As our verse today states, “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

We need to be like Ben Underwood. We need to seek God beyond our feelings, beyond sensing His presence. We must listen for Him. We must open our ears and minds to hear His voice. This, of course, takes practice. Much like Ben, we can’t learn to discern His voice in just 10 minutes. There are no shortcuts. It takes repetition and perseverance.

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