Dyslexia | Word Blindness

Dr. Stephen Phinney

I will never forget the day when I was told I had ‘word blindness,’ what people call dyslexia today. I was well into my adult years when I was told. On the one hand, I was relieved; on the other hand, it dug up years of resentment.

For those who are new to the term, dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Also called reading disability, dyslexia affects brain areas that process language while blocking the ability to replicate viewed content onto paper or typed documents.

People with dyslexia frequently have average to higher intellect. Although, most are labeled mentally challenged. As in my case, being labeled borderline mentally retarded in high school. Typically, they see letters backward or not at all, and this results in difficulty seeing similarities and differences in letters and words. It is the leading reason people with dyslexia avoid reading. Thus, they are poor spellers and have difficulty with the ability to learn and maintain grammar rules. As for public speaking, well, they avoid this like the plague.

Fear typically dominates their life.

Do you remember when God called Moses to speak to Pharaoh and His people? Do you remember what Moses said to God in his reply? I do, and it stays with me every day, particularly when God had asked me to write as a part of our ministry.

Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)

The Lord was not content with Moses’s response. While I used similar excuses throughout my life, God never settles with our excuses, and God laid it out for Moses in a clear and specific way.

The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? (Exodus 4:11)

Fact. The Lord wanted him to see that He made Moses with such weaknesses. However, Moses was not about to yield to the voice of the Lord. And God knew it. As per the norm for God, He leaves Moses with a command.

“Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” (Exodus 4:12)

Again, Moses was unsettled with the Lord’s directive. He immediately tells the Lord to come up with a different plan – that does not include himself.

But he said, "Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will." (Exodus 4:13)

Moses was aware of what causes the living God to revert to anger, and that is none other than disobedience. However, this did not stop him from trying to escape God, asking him to do something that rubbed in the face of his speech-impediment. With this, Moses had a hidden plan. The whomever You will was his brother Aaron. Since God knows our thoughts before we have them, the Lord implements a plan to covertly use Moses’ fear-based irresponsibility to do what was first assigned to Moses. While you would think Moses’s disobedience would further advance God’s anger, God complies.

Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses, and He said, "Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. (Exodus 4:14)

Keep in mind, God’s decision was made in anger. Since God knew that Aaron would fumble the ball (command) in a short period, and the job would be diverted back to Moses, the Lord makes use of Moses’s fear. Although God knew Moses “needed” an escape clause to get the ball moving, and thus, God complies with his fear-driven idea or solution.

Early in my ministry, I, too, played out this fear-based excuse. While I found relief in my self-governed excuses, I had a problem. In defaulting to other writers who taught on the identifying Life of Christ, I became restless about these writers avoiding what I believed God wanted to be said, particularly within the arena of culture. It put me up against the wall. It left me with imaginary guilt that I was too lazy to overcome my disability by making use of this weakness, which God initially promised.

Nonetheless, in the case of Moses, God begins using Moses as the mega-phone to inspire his brother with His words. Can you imagine the relief Moses felt? Moses must have felt his plan was sustainable and better equipped to accomplish God’s ordained plans. Not! Failure was around the corner. As we learn through reviewing the book of Exodus, Aaron reveals just how weak he is.

"Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him.” (Exodus 4:16)

I hope you caught the primary doctrinal theme in this verse – you will be as God to him. In this, we discover the method God uses for generations to come. Moses became the God figure, the representative for ages, and Aaron thus became our spiritual leaders' weak, frail representative of preachers. This dynamic runs into our present teachers, prophets, and pastors standing in the pulpits distributing the Words of God to the people – some being “right on,” while the lion’s share teaches formidable content. And as we know, this too ultimately becomes a mostly failed display of God’s organic proclamations.

So, how does God manage this dilemma?

The Lord gives Moses a staff. A staff, mat-teh', mat-taw,' means tribe. In Modern Hebrew, Latin and English is means support of Life. Thus, the staff became the eternal symbol of the Holy Spirit. Why is this important regarding our topic? While God defaulted to Moses’s fear-based irresponsibility, the Holy Spirit remained with Moses, not his brother Aaron. All of the power of the signs, activity of God, and the presence of God’s power, remained with Moses. As most of us know, this redirects what God did regarding Pharaoh and other enemies and the miracles performed for God’s people back into the hands of the one who was initially called – Moses.

God did not give up on the man who was called. He didn't care about his speech-impediment, which He put in place. Rather, He made use of the weaknesses of man to advance a modality that would set a president of the Triune of God – God the Father (Moses), God the Son (spiritual leaders), and God the Holy Spirit (the staff of Moses). Truly, God uses all things for the good.

Using dyslexia as a compelling staff.

Everyone has their share of weaknesses, and mine happens to be word blindness. If I translated word blindness as being blinded in seeing the authentic meaning of the Word of God, well, I became convicted to the core. Not many years into the ministry God called me, this single revelation broke me down – leaving me in a puddle of dependence. I got up from my self-governed pool of sweat and tears and pleaded with God for deliverance. However, I could not imagine how God would “fix” this kind of weakness in disbelief. What did He do? Not much. He made it clear that He would use the weakness to plant firmly and release His Son’s indwelling power. Was that enough for me? Not at the time. He first needed to move me to brag about the weakness. It is in this that provoked a great mystery in my weak mind.

If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. (2 Cor. 11:30)

This profound truth remains a mystery to me. I knew that boosting was Paul’s greatest weakness. Although, the method of God’s deliverance for Paul was a shocker. While Paul was asking for deliverance from the messenger of Satan, God had a different plan – like with Moses.

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! (2 Cor. 12:7)

I, like Paul, suffer from the same demise, and my flesh is extremely embedded in boosting and self-pride. Most of us pick out our greatest weakness in our childhood and convert it into a fleshly endeavor to conquer it – usually by mastering what God uses to surface the REAL answer. Rather than leaving the weakness to surface a new kind of living from the inside out, we relentlessly endeavor to “fix it” ourselves. By the way, what WAS the Lord’s answer for Paul?

Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Cor. 12:8-9)

As usual, as with Moses, it always comes back to the Grace of God. In the Greek text regarding the word Grace, it means; a Divine influence upon the heart. In Paul’s case, He wanted the indwelling Divine influence and power of Jesus to surface THROUGH Paul’s weakness – not remove it. After embracing the command, Paul's conclusion was to brag about the fear, object, or torturous “thing” once used as an excuse to do things God’s ways. Does this sound familiar regarding our text with Moses?

In my case, God had to take me to the same place Paul was suffering. I can tell you; it was not a pleasant place to be, for I had to live and breathe in this dark place for many years. It drove me to a great exchange – Christ Life instead of mine. This was when I discovered the Exchanging Life of Jesus – Not I, but Christ.

Shortly after this exchange, I began to put my hands on the keyboard. Through an enormous amount of embarrassment, I began getting the message out that God put on my heart through His staff, the Holy Spirit. Yes. Most of it was raw, uncut, and filled with mistakes. However, the daily mandate from God became my compelling desire - Get My message out despite your weaknesses. As God would have it, this “ridiculous” mandate became my greatest strength over time. Today, I get it; when God says put your hands on the keyboard, I have a message, I listen AND do. You see, today, I am a firm believer in faith without works is dead. Or should I say, a message revealed by God unspoken/written is dead? You decide.

So what about the Dyslexia?

As you might guess, now 66-years of age, it is still a challenge. After writing this article, there were 69-word blindness mistakes. What was once used by Satan to drive me back into the cave of discouragement now empowers me to conquer NOT the Dyslexia but rather to use the word blindness to position me into what Jesus told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Secondly, I love to brag about the power and Life of the indwelling Jesus. For without Him in me, the me I once was will show its ugly head – every time.

In the end, Moses alone was left to demonstrate that all things are accomplished through the power of God - despite the weaknesses of humanity.

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