“Well, I see you gave up,” my friend remarked to me.
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“You have a disabled license plate. I guess you’re not going to try to get better.”
Has that ever happened to you? It didn’t matter that I’d asked my doctor for an extension of my temporary disabled parking placard and instead he handed me a slip stating I was permanently disabled. It didn’t matter how devastated that made me feel. In my friend’s eyes, I’d given up. That was also devastating.
It happened again when I got my wheelchair. “Does that mean you’re not going to try to walk any more?” It didn’t matter that I’d spent an agonizing six months with a walker, walking 25 feet and then resting for ten minutes, or that my knees were swollen like volleyballs by midday, and my back was on fire. It didn’t matter that two doctors had written prescriptions for a power wheelchair, and my physical therapist and orthopedist had written supporting letters. I had given up.
Has that happened to you? What about this: “I guess you haven’t prayed hard enough.” Or, that classic, “You know, if you believed enough, God would heal you.” I have an answer for that one.
I am healed. There is a difference between being healed and being cured. I am healed. I am at peace with my situation, and I know that God loves me, and I am where I am supposed to be, in the condition I am supposed to be in.
When I was first put on medical leave, I felt lost – why had I studied so hard to be a pastor just to have my church taken away from me? But then I realized, just like John Wesley, the world was my parish. Because I had no church, my husband and I were able to foster two high school girls and make sure they graduated from high school. I was home to receive visits and calls from people who needed prayer and advice, or someone to go to court with them, or write a letter to Social Security, or file papers with Immigration.
I joined a group of disabled bowlers, and worked with business owners, helping them understand that the ADA was a good thing, and helping them draft accessibility plans for their stores and restaurants.
But this isn’t about me – it’s about you. They always say when God closes a door, He opens a window. I believe when my legs and back became disabled, I grew wings. Combined with faith and prayer, it’s a pretty potent combination. “. . .but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles” Isaiah 40:31 I know that you, too, have a pair of wings holding you up and empowering you. The next time someone asks you why you’ve given up, or tells you that you haven’t prayed hard enough, or that you don’t have enough faith, just ask them, “Why, can’t you see my wings?”
And please, Dear Lord, when we feel we are at our lowest and we have nothing to offer, let us feel those wings you have given us, enabling us to be your servants in this world. In the name of your Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.