Devotional / Blog
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December 10, 2014, 12:00 AM

Hello Old Friend

Here it sits… old nemesis and enemy. This is my old wheelchair. I got it in the early 90’s. At the time, it was freedom for me. When I was in the VA Rehab system, after I broke my neck and was paralyzed, I had to be cared for. As time went on, they would put me in an electric chair that enabled me to venture out of my hospital room a little. Then, I received a hospital wheelchair that I could, once again, venture into the hall around my room. Then, after I got out of rehab, I bought this activity chair and I could easily disassemble it, put it in my car and go where I wanted when I wanted to.

But to me, it was still a curse; a prison that to me was a sign that I wasn’t healed. The day I got out of this thing I vowed I would never return to it. Getting out of it was a major component of my testimony.

Around 1996, after I was walking, I gave it to another disabled person who couldn’t afford one, but he got sick and died before he was able to strengthen himself enough to use it. So, I took it to my church so we could donate it. But somehow it never got donated; it spent almost 20 years in our church garage, wasting away.

About 2 weeks ago, it became apparent after my surgical complications that I would not be walking again for weeks if not months. I couldn’t spend that long in a recliner wasting away in my house. The wheelchair I had wasn’t made for action; I could push it around the house but that was it. It was too heavy for my wife to load, so I was stuck.

Then, during one of my daily prayer times, I thought about that old chair and the vow I had made. My principals said no way, but as I continued to think and pray about it, my heart began to soften. I wondered if it was even still there. I found out it was. So I had a friend go get it from the church and bring it to me, “just to get it out of the churches way.”

Once it was in my house, I looked it over hoping it was broken and unusable. It had years of dirt, some missing parts and 2 flat tires. But remarkably, the expensive components were in surprisingly good shape. I cleaned it up, greased the moving parts and put some air in the tires. Then, after 45 minutes of wrestling with my own heart, I sat in it, just to see how it felt. Then, something incredible happened.

After 20+ years, my heart had changed. I had associated it with some of the worst suffering of my life. It was a curse, a reminder of traumas that all could see. But now, it represented freedom. It relieved my current suffering and allowed me to resume a life that had been severely interrupted by surgical complications.

But as I tried it out by stowing it in my mustang and going to the grocery store I realized there was much more that God had showed me. I had 20 years of walking. What if I was in a wheelchair again for the rest of my life? What couldn’t I do? The answer was, nothing. I could still serve God…I could still live a normal, independent life…I could share the Gospel maybe even better. The more I wheeled around, the more comfortable I felt.

As soon as I returned home, I contacted the manufacturer and asked about parts. The chair had been discontinued years before, but the service rep told me I could still get parts until the end of the year, when they would quit making parts. So I gave them my shopping list and 6 days later it is, once again, a finely tuned beast. The nemesis that I thought back then was an enemy to be defeated was in fact, a friend given to me by God, that allows me to get out of my house and serve Him. It no longer bothers me to be in it; to be honest I don’t feel any different in it than I do walking. Don’t get me wrong…when my pressure sores are healed, I’ll be out of it walking again as soon as I can. But now, if and when I’m done with it, I’ll carefully store it away in MY garage, ready to go if God’s will asks for it.

That, friends, is the lesson about change and growth that I want to convey at this moment. We all, at points in our life, are faced with burdens and roadblocks that we might find very difficult to deal with. We struggle against what may seem like impossible obstacles. Paul, dealt with this as well. He prayed for relief and God answered him with…

2 Corinthians 12:7-9
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

The truth is, No matter where you find yourself in your walk with God, no matter what is in the way, God is sufficient, or, God’s Grace will help your heart to look at roadblocks as growth periods. If you are with God and He is with you, tests are no longer an enemy to be feared but rather a friend that helps you grow and mature in Christ. That’s what has happened to me over the last 40 days. I have been physically challenged but my heart and relationship with God has grown even more. I am excited and happy. You can be too! I have rid myself, to an even deeper level, my association of my physical condition to the happiness of my heart. That fear is gone from my life. A wheelchair is no longer a curse to be afraid of. It’s my friend, standing by for all those years awaiting that moment when it could spring back to life to enable me to share the Gospel. 

And to experience growth and change that is what you have to do. Look at challenges to your walk with God as stepping stones that get you closer to Heaven. Even more, if you turn to God during these trials, really turn to Him, He will grab your hand and help you along that path with all of the love and grace that only He could have. Glory to God!


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