Though she grew up athletic and active, her greatest blessing in life hasn’t been wellness or strength or ability, but has been found in sickness, sorrow and loss. Why? Because of the arms to which they made her turn.
Friends, I am convinced that if we're not careful, "seeing health (or illness) through the Gospel's lens" can become no more than a catchphrase. We have to mine God's Word for the indisputable truths nestled throughout. From Genesis to John, we have irrefutable evidence of the precious origin and the eternal significance of these temporary jars of clay.
As I look around, the same messages are everywhere. You are special. Trust yourself. Be true to yourself. Commencement speeches are larded with the same clichés: Follow your passion. Don’t accept limits. You are so great. This self-centeredness leads in several unfortunate directions. It leads to selfishness. It leads to pride. It leads to a capacity to ignore your imperfections and inflate your virtues; constantly seeking recognition and painfully sensitive to any snub to the status we feel we have earned for ourselves
Some people will tell you that they train because they "get to." They see it as favor, a blessing, something to enjoy, a means to give back to God and celebrate life and limbs and ability. And yet there are others who train because they "have to." They see it as obedience. Much like they would manage their money, they see exercise as temporary stewardship. They don't love it, but they love Him, so they take care of themselves. Obedience, after all, doesn't have to be fun. I could argue that they are the ones truly making a sacrifice of praise.
Yeah, although he came back with memories of deeds as stinky as his pig-slopped clothes, the prodigal in our verse couldn't stray beyond his father's love. Before he knew it, a robe replaced rags, a ring dressed his hand and a feast filled his belly. And while you and I may not have mud on our shoes, there's not a person reading this sentence who doesn't need that kind of grace from a grace-giving God.
The recipients of the gift of mobility may never meet Joni herself. They may never hear her high-pitched, joy-filled voice. They will likely never see her face to face, share a meal or join her in song. But on their respective dusty roads of obscurity, amid languages as diverse as the cultures they represent, they look down and push the wheels of their chairs and somehow they touch her and she feels it.
The self is that opponent I seldom slug. I pull my punch. I love him too much. But even when I do knock him down, he is never out. Inevitably, out of my periphery I see him getting up off the canvas. He is relentless. There are no neutral corners with him. He can't hear the bell. He won't stay down. And like a seasoned sparring partner, he knows my soft targets. He is as unwelcome to me as a sunrise to the sleepless. I would know.
ll take you to meet Kevin. A former Dallas cop with a brain injury. I want his heart.
I’ll take you to meet Ryle. Spina bifida imprisons his little body, but his spirit no arena can hold.
I’ll take you to a welcome ceremony, a pirate’s play and a talent show. I’ll take you there.
And I’ll introduce you to a small team of people leading the charge in Texas for kids and families impacted by special needs. So, if you’re looking for a reason to serve, to train, to hard-charge the week, to eat right, to see your health and illness through the Gospel’s lens, I have just one…I’m happy.
How we handle our gifts and abilities could produce a truce. Where we go in times of sickness is a chance at a treaty. Isn't that the real point? It really isn't about being at peace with my body. God-forbid I minimize the topic down to the preservation of self-acceptance or being comfortable in my own skin.