Friday, July 30, 2010

To dispell some misconceptions about disabilities - Part 2

My circumstances do not dictate my relationship with God. I love the verses in Daniel, where three friends are faced with death by fire. They tell the king that they know God has the power to bring them out and spare them from certain horrific death… and then they say, “But even if he doesn’t…” Even if he doesn’t, I will still praise the Lord. I will still honor and obey him. I will still believe that he is good and he loves me. It is hard to explain to some people that I don’t think God is going to “heal me” in this life, because then I sound like I have no faith or I have given up. But that isn’t the case. I know he is able to, but I don’t think he wants to. I believe this is the truth, and it does not make me angry or discouraged because my devotion to the Lord is not based on my strength or weakness. Whether I walk or whether I sit, whether I live independently or whether I must depend on others more and more as I get older, I will serve the Lord. Isn’t this a louder and more powerful witness than making my faith in him contingent on whether or not he “heals me”?

The greatest and most eternal miracle is the work Jesus has done in our hearts. If God healed my muscles, took away this disease, and strengthened me physically, one day I would still grow old, get weak again, and possibly need a wheelchair again. This body is temporary, and will eventually fade and die. But the spirit is eternal… and the greatest miracle Jesus ever performed was the work he did on the cross, to cover my sin and make a way for me to have access and relationship with the Father. He healed my heart, restored my soul, and gave me a new spirit… and when I die, it will live on for eternity with my Lord.

God can receive glory through the lives of those who are “imperfect” or “broken.” The saddest thing I have been told regarding my disability is this: “God wants to heal you so people will know his power and he can get the glory.” Can he not accomplish this even if I am in a wheelchair? In fact, in some ways I think he can get more glory through my weakness, because any strength that is demonstrated in my life can only ever be attributed to him. God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong.... the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one can boast before him. Louis Giglio would say my disability is God’s megaphone, through which he can amplify his message of hope and joy and peace to others. I pray that people will see and know his power in a mighty way, and that he will receive all the glory, whether I stand up or sit down.

There are more important things to look forward to than physical healing. This is something Joni Eareckson Tada has taught me over the years, through her life and ministry. I do not want to waste my life chasing after selfish ambition – which is how I see it if I relentlessly insist that God “heal” me even after he has said no. I want to spend my time and energy on sharing the gospel with people so they can know Jesus too… because the thing I look forward to the most is heaven. Heaven is where I will walk, true. But heaven is also where I will never make another stupid decision, I will never have any more regrets, I will never hurt someone again. Heaven is where relationships will flourish the way they were meant to – without tension, jealousy, distrust, insecurity, or geographical or chronological distance. Heaven is where there will be no more tears, no more exhaustion, no more “burn out.” Heaven is where we will be with Jesus forever – directly in his presence, without fault and with the greatest joy imaginable. With heaven in my view, how could I desire anything else?

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