By: Jean Boonstra
Ernest Zachery Cleghorn (better known as E.Z.) had the kind of life some would describe as a “fairytale.” His blindness never caused him to be discouraged—until recently.
“Dear Lord,” E.Z. prayed. “I’m struggling. You know that my parents are both sick, and I just don’t know what the future holds. God, are you still there? Can you still hear me?”
E.Z. heard a plate rattle in the kitchen. He walked into the kitchen.
“Mom, how are you feeling today?” E.Z. asked.
“Oh, I’m alright,” Mom answered. “E.Z., how are you?”
“Me?” E.Z. asked. “I, ah…” E.Z. hesitated. He didn’t want to worry his mom.
“You can talk to me, son,” Mom encouraged.
“Mom,” E.Z. finally admitted, “for the first time in my life, I’m really struggling. I’m worried about you and Dad. The future feels dark. Does God see me? Does He hear my prayers?”
“You are a living, breathing answered prayer. You haven’t forgotten, have you?” Mom asked gently.
“I haven’t forgotten,” E.Z. answered. “Was I really so tiny when I was born?”
Mom smiled, remembering. “You arrived 4 months early. You weighed just 1 pound, 6 ounces. The doctors didn’t think that you would make it, but God had a plan for you.”
“I want to believe that He still has a plan for me,” E.Z. said.
For some time after, E.Z. still struggled. He prayed to God, but he didn’t feel like He was listening. E.Z. remembered a podcast he’d heard about but hadn’t listened to yet. It was called Discovery Mountain.
E.Z. listened to the first few episodes. Immediately he felt connected to the characters and their experiences. They were going through some of the very same struggles he was experiencing, too. The more he listened, the more E.Z. felt encouraged. His mom noticed.
“E.Z.,” Mom said one day. “You’re doing better, aren’t you?”
E.Z. smiled. “I’m not struggling as much as I was. I feel like God wants me to watch and see what He has planned for me.”
Mom smiled. She felt happy to see E.Z. more like himself.
E.Z.’s eyebrows crinkled in puzzlement one day as he read his social media feed. “Douglas Bruce? I recognize that name, but from where?” Then E.Z. remembered—it was Director Doug from Discovery Mountain. E.Z. clicked open the chat window. That first chat lead to many more, and soon they became friends.
A few months later, E.Z. struggled through one of the most difficult things he’d ever experienced. His mom passed away. Director Doug was one of the first people to call him to comfort him.
As E.Z. mourned the loss of his mom, a friend introduced him to Liz. “Where are you from?” E.Z. asked Liz. “I grew up right here in Georgia, just like you,” Liz answered. “But I recently moved to Colorado.”
E.Z.’s face lit up. “Colorado!” he exclaimed. “I listen to a podcast that’s recorded in Colorado. My friend Doug has been trying to get me to record some lines as a voice actor, but I’m so far away.”
“Well, you should come and visit me,” Liz said half-jokingly.
E.Z. couldn’t forget about his new friend Liz’s invitation. She lived just 20 minutes from the Discovery Mountain studios. Could he really visit her and the studios? E.Z. prayed. Then he exercised his faith and planned the trip.
Walking into the Discovery Mountain studios with Liz, E.Z. heard the familiar voices of Producer Steve and Ms. Jean greet him. After their fun introductions, he met George Swanson, the voice actor for one of his favorite characters, Mr. Simon. E.Z. felt tongue-tied as he tried to find the right words to say. He couldn’t believe that he was meeting Mr. Simon in person!
In the recording studio and behind the mic, E.Z. heard a familiar voice come through his headset. “Alright, E.Z.,” Director Doug directed, “your character is named Chris and he works at the Discovery Mountain hospital. Ready to record?”
“I’m not sure how I let you talk me into this,” E.Z. joked, “but I’m ready.”
E.Z. stepped out of the recording studio, relieved that his lines were finished. “How’d I do?” he whispered to Liz.
“Great job,” she said, grinning.
“Hey E.Z.,” Ruben said. “I have something for you.”
E.Z. recognized Ruben’s voice and quickly interrupted him. “Wait,” he teased. “Use your Jake voice!”
Ruben cleared his throat. “I have something for you, E.Z.,” he said in his very best Jake voice.
E.Z. grinned. “What is it, Jake?” he asked.
“Trail mix!” Ruben said and handed E.Z. a bag of his character’s signature snack.
“Thank you, Jake,” E.Z. said, laughing.
E.Z. laughed and visited with the other voice actors and crew. He had another chance to talk to Mr. Simon and, thankfully, this time his tongue wasn’t tied. “I was really struggling when I found Discovery Mountain,” E.Z. shared with his new friends. “I now have the assurance that God loves me and He has heard my prayers. I never could have imagined then that I’d have a friend like Doug, or that I’d meet Liz.”
“Or that I’d live in Colorado and you could visit,” Liz added.
E.Z. nodded. “God answered my prayer by telling me to ‘Watch,’ ” E.Z. continued. “God said, ‘Watch and see what’s next for you. It’s going to be better than you ever could have planned.’ ”
Are you struggling right now? Find someone you can talk to about it, just like E.Z. talked to his mom. When we’re struggling, sometimes we avoid spiritual things because we don’t feel great, but the stories in the Bible can encourage us. Find a book, a podcast, or a video that draws you closer to God and then “watch” and see what God has planned for you—it will be better than you ever could have planned.