Pastor Bob's Story

  • April 27, 2010
  • #7302

You may not realize it, but even pastors have disabilities. Hi, this is Joni Eareckson Tada. I want to welcome my friend, Pastor Bob Bjerkaas of Church in the Canyon, the church where Ken and I attend.  Good to have you, Bob! 

Bob:  Thank you.  It's good to be here.

Joni:  First, take a minute and describe your impairment, because it's pretty significant.

Bob:  Well, I'd be happy to.  I have an eye disease that I inherited.  My grandmother had it, my father had it, my brother has it, and my two aunts have it.  It's called Retinis Pigmentosa and I'm legal blind; I have tunnel vision.  I've told people who ask me, "What can you see?"  And sometimes I hold up my fingers and show them that I really can't see my fingers unless they are right in front of me.  And I say try to picture putting a couple of empty toilet paper rolls up to your eyes and being like a kid making binoculars, and that's pretty much what I see.      

Joni:  You know, it's interesting, your dad was visiting us from back east and he ran into me at church.

Bob:  Physically?

Joni:  Physically!

Bob:  Yea, we mean physically when Bjerkaas' run into people.

Joni:  Well, not long ago you shared a story about your visual impairment when you were preaching a sermon on trusting the Lord.  Would you mind telling that story?

Bob:  I'd be happy to.  One of the things, Joni, that I have learned as someone who has an impairment, is that it is an opportunity for me to learn something about God's love for me and to receive love from others.  What I was sharing that Sunday was I was preaching through Acts, as you know, and the place where the Lord Jesus speaks to Paul and says, "Do not be afraid for I am with you," -- an analogy that shows that when we are with somebody who loves us and we know that they love us we are able to be bold.  Everyone at Church in the Canyon loves Nathan Lee.  He was my intern last Summer and from time to time since I quit driving ten years ago I'll have him - since he is between college and seminary - give me rides places to run errands.  And when he picked me up to take me on a trip we had to stop by the mall, because it was the most convenient place to eat.  The mall was crowded and I walk very, very slow.  I'm always turning my head; I'm looking everywhere I can, and he kept walking and turning around wondering 'where did the pastor go'.  If you had seen me walking that day you would have said, 'there's a brother that's really got some visual problems'.  But now, if I'm walking next to my wife, Kerrie, you'd never think that anything is wrong with me.

Joni:  How so?

Bob:  Because I'm walking next to her and I know that she is going to tell me if anything is coming up; she is going to hold out her arm and stop me if a child or a stroller or a grocery cart goes in front of me.  If I'm about to fall down a curb I have complete and total confidence that my wife loves me and she's walking beside me and she takes care of me.  That's a picture in many ways of how God cares for us, even in our weakness...

Joni:  Yes!  In fact when you were talking about that I was thinking of that wonderful portion of scripture - the still small voice whispering, 'This is the way, walk ye in it."

Bob:  Yes, "Be still and know that I am God."  And it just gives me a sense of comfort and peace to know that anything that happens, anything especially associated with my disability I know that God is right next to me and He is walking with me and He is protecting me.  One of my favorite Psalms is the Psalm of Ascent where the Lord says, He is our keeper.  He keeps our souls both now and forevermore in our coming and in our going.  What a precious thought that is.

Joni:  Leading us in the paths of righteousness as we keep in step with the spirit. Wow!  Isaiah 50 says, "Who among you fears the Lord let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God."  Friend listening, I think Bob's story today underscores the need to keep close to the Savior for wisdom, guidance, direction and safety.  Right, Bob?  Thanks for sharing out of your own heart, Bob, your own experience with disability. 

Bob:  Thank you!

©  Joni and Friends

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