John was 13 when he lost his sight. A chemical explosion left him blind, and even worse, it left him in a state of self pity. He felt life was over. He hated God and hated his life.

About six months after the accident, John’s father said, “Winter’s coming, John, and the storm windows need to be put in place. That’s your job. I want it done by the time I come home this evening or else!”

We know this story because Bishop William Frey told how he tutored John when Frey was a young man. Later, Mark Batterson retold the story in one of his books.

At any rate, after giving John his orders, John’s father pretended to walk out of the room and slammed the door. John sat there getting angrier by the moment. The longer he thought about it the angrier he got.

“I’ll show them,” he thought. “I’ll put the windows up and when I fall, they will not only have a blind son, they will have a paralyzed son.”

But John did not fall. He found he could do more than he thought. It was not until he finished that he learned his father had never been more than 5 feet away. John’s father shadowed him the entire time, to protect him from getting hurt.

John’s father had the insight to understand that helplessness is worse than blindness. To feel helpless is a different kind of paralysis and he didn’t want John to experience that hopeless, helpless feeling. By obeying his father and pushing himself to do what he did not originally think he could do, it helped John in more ways that he imagined.

And what a dad, to show tough love and to stay nearby, providing a kind of safety net for his son. He reminds me of God. St. Paul wrote, “The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV). His strength will enable you to do more than you imagine.

— The Rev. Ron McClung, a former pastor of Owosso Wesleyan Church, now living in Indianapolis, Indiana, currently serves as the assistant general secretary for the denomination.

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