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October 9, 2014, 2:00 PM

A Time for Reflection Part Two



During my period of realization of the need for a personal relationship with God through Christ, I had become very bitter over the hypocrisy of people in general. I was a self-centered loner before my accident and had become much more so since. I just didn’t fit in anywhere.  In the rehab hospital, I was active duty military; everyone else was discharged veterans. That meant a different set of rules. My spinal cord injury was like no other. Many other patients resented me or told me I was lucky; I didn’t feel very lucky. Normal people (relative term) pitied me and treated me like a baby. The military no longer wanted me; they were just biding their time until I was processed out. The VA offered no help other than rehab as long as I was active duty. My family didn’t know how to help me; they didn’t have the tools. Counselors were trying to break me into acceptance of my situation; I couldn’t open up about my fears or my dreams because they were signs of weakness or unrealistic goals.

I think the final straw came around 1990 when two things happened. First, the Paralympic games took off. I was elated because I could compete in physical competitions with similar people. Imagine the hurt that I felt when I turned in my application, only to be told that I couldn’t compete because, as a quadriplegic, I wasn’t handicapped enough. In retrospect, to keep things fair, they were trying to put people into categories with similar people and my injury was rather unique in many ways. But it left me with a huge feeling of rejection from the people I viewed as the those fighting for inclusion. I could have fought it and probably found a place, but I didn’t.

At the same time, The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed by the government. I am sure it has helped many people over the years. But not me. During this time, I was trying to forge a new career, and one of the things I had going for me was my ability to let employers “try me out.” I would talk them into trying me out and if they felt I was too handicapped to do the job they could just let me know and I would leave; there would be no hard feelings; I didn’t want to work where I was not wanted and I had confidence that in the right place, I would be valuable. And it let me try a lot of new things in search of a new profession…..that is until the ADA passed. After that, employers would be breaking the law if they hired me and then let me go because of a disability. It sounds great, but in reality, employers just quit trying me out in non-conventional disabled jobs because of the new law.

So, in summary, the group formed to celebrate disabilities in athletics quietly told me my disability wasn’t accepted, and, the new law celebrated to stop discrimination in the workplace just made it almost impossible for me to go back to work unless I worked some disability created job that didn’t make a difference but made the powers that be pat themselves on the back for helping out the poor crippled guy. That was my experience. Those two events were the last in a long line of experiences where I was isolated for who I was. If it was not for God being with me, even when I wasn't "with Him," I don't know how I would have survived. Many don't survive.

That is why, when Christ invited me to join Him, it was so much more than a “come to Jesus moment.” It was so much more like the scene in the “Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy looks around after her house crashes in Oz and the film makes the abrupt transition from black and white to color. I had a place after all. I finally fit in. My eyes still water when I reflect on this.

And not only am I invited to participate, God has given me a job; a challenging job just for me, designed by God before the foundation of the world.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.      Ephesians 2:8-10

There is so much in this passage of Scripture. As a human, on my own, I was useless, bitter and alone. But God loves me and Jesus rescued me. Now, I am the man for the job God has given me. No one can do it like I can. No one. It is mine and no one can take it from me. Tell me I can’t do it and my God will prove you wrong; every time, without fail. Because it is He who works through me. And for Him to personally give me that job He has to know me, like know one else. He even knows about the "Graceland Incident." But, even knowing that, He invests in me, He has patience with me, He includes me and counts on me.

Ephesians 1:4-5
.even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

 And I am surrounded by similar people. I fit in. I am a part of something. My heart sings the Glory of God through Christ Jesus. That is who I am now. That is why I am no longer afraid. I can stand toe to toe with any theologian, any businessman, any athlete and I can do my Godly job just as well as they can do theirs, sometimes better. At least as long as I follow God’s will for my life, because it’s God working through me. God does not fail. I study, I communicate with God and I act, without fear; at least most of the time.

It is what has kept me going when the doctors said I couldn't walk or all of the times they have said I am going to die. They will be right someday, maybe even within the next month. But it is not their decision. It is God's. And that day will not come until I am finished with my Father's work. That is why I play guitar in church even though my fingers don't work; that is why i am not afraid to preach the Gospel; that is why I cook church meals even though I didn't know how to cook.

This is good. I think I needed reminding about who I am.

How about you? Are you with me? We were created for this. It may not always seem glorious or feel fun. Sometimes you might feel alone or insignificant or overwhelmed. My response;  Be still, and know, He. Is. God.


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