An Interview With Bill Carlson – 2
An Encouragement Journey Book 1
A Small Group Study & Discussion Guide
Q: Even though you’re not a professional theologian, how do you come up with topics and what determines what you write about an issue?
A: I pray and ask God for topics. He knows what my readers are experiencing and how I can help with that issue. I’ve written about 200 Encouragements. Only a few people know and understand both the Bible and current events. I decide what to write after reviewing how scripture addresses the topic. I do not try to exhaustively write about any issue because people will not read something perceived as long. I have about ten verses for each scripture that I use.
Q: What do you want to accomplish with AEJ and the Guide?
A: I want the reader to be encouraged. I also want readers to look to the Bible and to pray about everything that affects them. If someone makes it a habit of looking to God for peace in any circumstance that they face, than I have been successful. Whatever problem a person faces may seem insolvable. In such a situation, it is all the more important to trust God and to pray. I try to instill faith that God has their best interest in mind, even when their problem is not “solved.”
Q: What do you worry about?
A: Right now it’s money. I have been living off of the proceeds of a disability policy that terminated a couple of months ago. I don’t want to depend upon the government, I cannot work, so I’m crying out to God for a solution and reminding Him about the verse in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” I don’t want to deny the faith, or be worse than an infidel. I don’t think God wants this, either. He knows my limitations, and I trust Him to provide a solution.
Q: How does your disability, or disease, limit you?
A: There are many things that I cannot do. I cannot walk on my own because I lack all balance due to the damage to my brain. I have to hold onto someone or something because I lack any balance. I cannot ride a bicycle or drive. My eyesight is 20/20, but I see things in motion or double. My eyesight makes it too dangerous for me. Most people cannot tell what I am saying. Even my computer cannot recognize my voice. I can do some things as long as I have a grab bar to hold onto in order to give me some stability. I am really slow at typing because I use only one finger, and still make mistakes because my finger will not go where I want it to consistently, whereas I used to be able to type with all of my fingers. For seven or eight years I had ringing in my ears, although that finally went away. I can hear clearly today.
Q: The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (ESV). Why aren’t you healed?
A: This scripture, and ones like it, are a real dilemma for me. I cannot explain why I am not healed. Many people have prayed for me, and some people have had dreams where they have seen me walking. I feel the same way that Job felt when he lost everything and then said, “. . . The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD” Job 1:21 (NLT)! I went through a “dark night of the soul” where I questioned the purposes of God. Fortunately, I was able to go through this dark night and somehow maintain my faith in God. I trust that God will do the best things for me. I rely on another scripture found in Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (NLT).
Q: How has your disability affected your wife and children and their kids?
A: As you can imagine, the changes have been dramatic. My wife became the primary caregiver. She never envisioned this for her life. My grandchildren, all under nine years old, are somewhat inhibited around me because the wheelchair tends to intimidate them. Plus, my speech makes it difficult for my children and grandchildren to understand what I say. It is not uncommon for my wife to ask me to put whatever I say into an email in order for her to completely understand me. Half of my children and grandchildren are at least 500 miles away. Because traveling is difficult for me, it makes it hard to see them. Only one child and four grandchildren live close to me. They are the ones that are around me the most, accept me, and understand me better than the others.
Q: How do other people react to you?
A: I learned very quickly that most people are impatient. I used to have a computer that talks, but because of my difficulty with typing, I was too slow in my communication. People would not wait for me to make corrections. I do not bother with a computer anymore. Because of my disabilities people tend to avoid me because they do not know what to say or how to act around me. The isolation is profound. It makes me grateful that I am an introvert, and I can live quite comfortably on my own.
Q: Are you less of a man because of your disability?
A: I am in the sense that I cannot drive, hike, or travel on my own. I am dependent upon others to meet my needs. However, a man is much more than what he can do. My character, respect for others, and ability to endure adversity are intact. These qualities cannot be taken from me. I may not be able to do many of the things that other men can do, but I do not feel restricted in who I am. I live with many limitations but my manhood is not dependent on what I do. Who I am and how God sees me is a much stronger indication of my manhood. Even though there are many things that I can no longer do, I still am optimistic about the future and see the glass as half full.