Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

April 24, 2016


Caution: be careful about your assumptions


If an assumption is assuming something to be true without proof, then we are all guilty. We make assumptions daily about things we hear and see. Sometimes we are right. Often we are wrong.

We may, for example, misjudge a person based on their appearance. Many times I have done that. And it is sobering to realize you have made false assumptions about others.   

I heard a woman confess that she had misjudged a pudgy little woman who joined her church. She said, "When I first saw her I quickly assumed that she would be good for a bowl of potato salad for one of our church suppers." "But," she continued, “I felt rather stupid when within a year this chubby lady became a very effective Bible teacher in our church!"

Careless judgments of others is not an uncommon sin among those of us who serve the Lord; some of us have 20/20 vision when it comes to seeing the "speck" in a brother’s eye while blind to the "log" in our own eye.

I love the story of a little girl who, years ago, was locked in the dungeon of a mental institution near Boston. Only those who were hopelessly insane were consigned to that miserable dungeon. Doctors had no hope for the girl they called "Little Annie" so she was confined to a living hell in a small cage with little light.

Fortunately the story did not end in that dungeon. An elderly nurse, nearing retirement, came on the scene, an unusual person who had hope for every child. She began taking her lunch into the dark dungeon and eating outside Little Annie’s cage. She thought her presence might communicate love and hope to the pitiful little girl.

Sustaining hope for Annie was not easy. Her mistreatment in the past had triggered intense anger. Frequently she attacked anyone who came into her cage. At other times she ignored those who came near her. This was Annie’s initial reaction to the elderly nurse; she paid her no attention.  

One day the kind nurse left some brownies outside Annie’s cage. Annie ignored them while the nurse was present but the next day the brownies were gone. After that every Thursday the nurse brought brownies to Annie. Soon doctors observed a change in Annie. They moved Annie upstairs where she continued to improve. Finally Annie, once a "hopeless case," was told that she was well and free to leave.   

To everyone’s surprise Annie told them she did want to leave! The kindness of the elderly nurse had inspired Annie to believe that she could help others as the loving nurse had helped her. Annie stayed and it was she who later loved and nurtured the amazing Helen Keller out of her own dungeon.

Annie understood adversity and knew it could be overcome. She had lost most of her sight by age five. By age 10 her mother had died and her father had deserted her. She and her brother Jimmie were sent to the poorhouse. Her brother died there. Later two operations on her eyes restored enough sight that Annie was able to read normal print for brief periods of time.

Helen Keller, deaf, blind and mute, described her deliverance with these words, “I was helplessly adrift when someone took my hand, someone who would not only teach me all things, but someone who would love me.” That someone was Annie, known to the world as Anne Sullivan, the woman who devoted her life to helping Helen Keller become a beautiful, useful person.

Had I seen Annie in that dungeon, and witnessed her violence, I would have assumed as the doctors did that she was hopeless. And I would have been wrong.

My mistaken assumptions have taught me that everyone I meet probably has potential that is hidden from my eyes. The amazing story of Annie helps me remember that. + + +