If you’re a fan of “American Idol,” you probably remember season eight’s Scott MacIntyre. While some of the finalists in this well-known reality show may not be all that memorable, it’s kind of hard to forget the one who not only had incredible talent, but who also made history as the show’s first blind contestant. If you were wowed by Scott’s story back then, wait until you read his entire inspiring testimony, BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT.
"Jennifer Schuchmann, the author who helped bring Scott’s story to life, does a great job organizing the information in an easy-to-read way. It is also extremely absorbing. I would intend to read 'just a chapter' and found myself having to keep going because I wanted to know more."
It didn’t take long for Scott’s parents to realize that their son’s fascination with the piano was more than just a toddler’s random key-plunking. By age two, he was trying to recreate songs he heard on his Fisher-Price cassette recorder. By three, he was playing chords. At age six, he played in the church praise band. And by seven, he was hired to play the music at a wedding. “Child Prodigy” was a term others quickly assigned to this musically gifted boy.
Scott was homeschooled and excelled in every subject. So, at only 14, after testing in the 99th percentile on his SATs, he enrolled at the University of Arizona, where he studied academics and music for the next four years. After that, he applied and was accepted to London’s Goodenough College for postgraduate studies. Things certainly seemed as if they couldn’t get much better.
But they were about to get much worse.
At age 19, the summer before he was to begin at Goodenough, Scott learned he had entered stage 4 chronic kidney disease. They had known for some time that his kidneys were deteriorating, but even the doctors couldn’t explain why. For the past couple of years, he’d had his creatinine levels regularly tested and tried to maintain his elevated numbers with diet. But despite Scott’s efforts, his levels continued to rise, and before long, doctors agreed that his only options were dialysis or transplant.
Blindness, child prodigy, kidney failure, “American Idol” finalist --- each of these aspects is noteworthy in and of itself. But BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT is more than just an account of Scott MacIntyre’s unique set of challenges, obstacles, and how he beat the odds. What makes his story remarkable is his attitude through it all. His perseverance. The faith he carried with him, even when faced with mountains that seemed impossible to climb. He didn’t always understand why things were happening. But instead of getting angry at his circumstances, feeling sorry for himself, or turning away from God, he chose to cling to his faith and focus on things he had to be thankful for. Almost always, he was able to look back and see how God had been working in the midst of the darkness to bring him to a place of incredible blessing. How many of us would do the same?
Scott’s parents are to be loudly applauded for their faith, devotion, and dedication to teaching Scott to be self-sufficient, despite his disability. It’s clear that their selfless sacrifice and love for their son played a huge part in how he courageously handled --- and overcame --- every hurdle he faced.
Jennifer Schuchmann, the author who helped bring Scott’s story to life, does a great job organizing the information in an easy-to-read way. It is also extremely absorbing. I would intend to read “just a chapter” and found myself having to keep going because I wanted to know more. An “American Idol” fan myself, I remember Scott from season eight and especially enjoyed the inside scoop he shared about the show, as well as his personal “Idol” journey. The story jumps around a bit from childhood memories to more recent events, but it’s never difficult to follow. In the middle of the book, there are a few pages of colored photos from various stages of Scott’s life, which is a nice touch.
BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT is the perfect title for this book, and Scott’s story is a wonderful picture of living out 2 Corinthians 5:7. While I appreciated the details about Scott’s blindness, musical talent, family, friends, girlfriends, piano teachers, college, life-threatening illness, and reality television experience, what I take away most is his remarkable attitude. That attitude is summed up nicely in this quote from the book, after the “American Idol” judges chose not to save him from elimination: "God had already saved me from so much and blessed me with so much more. In my darkest moments, I had realized that with every obstacle comes an opportunity to trust him. Getting eliminated wasn't the end. Although I couldn't see where I was going, I knew God was leading me and I was willing to follow. My reality has always been driven by faith and not by sight."
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on June 21, 2012