I was attending service at the All Saints’ Cathedral last Sunday. Isla was supposed to be graduating from some mentorship class that afternoon and she insisted I be there. You know I’d be crazy to say no right? I’m growing to understand there’s a point in a relationship where your partner will be like your child. They’ll ask you to be somewhere with them, and even though you don’t understand why, you’ll find yourself joining them. Exactly like when your child is competing at a ‘big’ game and you have to be there, even if it’s boring. Not saying her graduation was boring. Quite the opposite actually. I enjoyed every bit of it. ADILI (Swahili for Virtuous) program sure did those ladies well.
They looked beautiful in their white dresses. From their testimonies you would tell the six months were worth it. They kept saying how they wished it didn’t end. How perfect it was, except for the assignments of course. They’ve gone through 8-4-4, so that shouldn’t surprise you. You’d be an oddball to go through 8-4-4 and come out cherishing assignments. ADILI’s goal is to raise virtuous women by creating a platform for the older ones to mentor younger ones. Now you might think you are fine and don’t need an older person walking with you this journey of life. But wait until you meet someone who’s been through everything you facing now or even worse, then you’ll understand you do. Nothing is new under the sun; not even your hurt or pain.
If nothing is new, everything should pretty much be easier. All we have to do is follow the trail of the worthy ones. The older ones who were not born wise, but grew wise. So I recommend ADILI, and any other Bible-based mentorship program out there. The service in the morning was nothing short of good. This month, the church will be having Disability month. They will be creating awareness concerning people living with disability. A noble thing, right?
I couldn’t help but look forward to the sermon. I kept wondering what it would be like. A lecture on how to live with the disabled? If it turned out like that, I knew I would be dead bored. I don’t go to church looking forward to fireworks, but I also don’t do well with seminars on Sundays in huge halls. I love having both my mind and heart engaged during sermons. With a topic like disability, or cancer, any preacher would struggle to satisfy my type, especially if he were a professional in the field and not a vocational preacher. So you can guess what thoughts went through my mind when they introduced the preacher and I saw a man on a wheel chair being pushed to the front. He looked sharp in his suit. So crisp. He did not even need to stand for one to tell.
My expectations of the sermon were nothing far from what most people had I believe; a little about how he became disabled, what living with the condition is like, how we can care for the disabled, etc. Maybe he would educate us a bit on some of the causes of disability. Then it would probably end with something as predictable as, “God cares for all people, and we need to do the same.” At least that would add a tinge of some Biblical flavor. Then we would walk away, both excited about the sermon and grimed a little by it.
That was all I anticipated. That was what most of the professionals who had preached to me in the past had taught me to expect. However, on this particular day, I had set myself up for disappointment. This guy wasn’t about to focus on himself or some select group of people in his sermon like I thought he would. Introducing his beautiful wife and two daughters present to us was all about himself he cared to mention. Didn’t he have any personal experiences to share with us? I doubt he missed any. He could have easily dwelt on how for the majority of their twenty-five years in marriage he has lived crippled. He could have praised the wife for her courage to remain with him and narrated story after story of how she has cared for him. He could have produced endless accounts of how we treat with indifference the disabled among us. He didn’t. All that seemed so trivial to him. There was something far greater he chose to focus on.
He cared to see God glorified by the time he was done. I figured he knew his painful experiences would at best draw pity from us. He wasn’t after our emotions. He wanted to touch our spirits. So he lifted Christ. How lovely he spoke of Him. This preacher understood something not many of us do about God’s sovereignty. Despite the many painful experiences he may have been through, he was still able to uphold God’s will as good and perfect. If getting his legs back were to alter even in the slightest way God’s will for his life, he was clear that he would rather not have them. I’m sure many watched in bewilderment when he said he didn’t mind living for the rest of his life in his condition, if that was what God pleased.
I praised God throughout his sermon. It felt easy to do because I simply needed to join him. He stressed how the disabled aren’t really disabled. They are just differently gifted. Wow! A beautiful way to look at life, don’t you think? This wasn’t the first time I was hearing that. Countless times I’ve heard it said. You have too, am sure. But do we ever treat them any better? Do we ever look at them and not think that they are such a burden? We feel for the wives, husbands and relatives who have to care for them. We wonder how they even do it! Guess why? It’s all because we’ve only been told that they are not lesser people; and telling, my friend, hardly cuts the ice. When you see one who is only different and in no way lesser like I did on Sunday, then you will believe what they told you.
There is a story in the Bible he used. You’ll find it in Mark 2:1-12. The one about this paralyzed man that was brought by his friends to Jesus to heal him. The room was completely full they couldn’t come in through the door. So they chose to dig through the roof and lower the man down. Knowing Jesus, everyone expected to see the man walk. How He did it left them rather confused though, especially the teachers of the law present. He first said to the man, “your sins are forgiven you.” Was He suggesting the forgiveness of sin was enough to heal the man of his palsy? Yes. Everyone else thought the man only needed to have his body made whole, but Jesus knew the real miracle worth praising God for was to make his heart whole. It wasn’t his physical condition that ailed him. It was his sin.
And it is your sin, dear reader, that renders you disabled today. The greatest disability is your sin! You are not disabled because you can’t walk, eat with your hands or even show yourself to the washroom. You are disabled because you don’t have the Gospel of Christ with you. In fact, you are worse than disabled if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus. You are actually dead!
“Lucky me, am a Christian,” you say. Not so fast. Are you one by name or by life? Do your deeds agree with who you claim to be? Are they deeds born of the faith in you to begin with (John 14:15)? Until we have truly received Him and began living for Him, we will be the disabled. So despise not the one crippled on the flesh when you are still crippled at heart. We all need the Savior alike.
I hope I never forget that man who preached to us. A Dr. David, he’s called. David Bukachi. I greatly admire your faith. You may not walk as I do, but I believe I will be in heaven with you. Neither of us will need legs to get us there. Just a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Such that the Lord despises not (Psalm 51:17). Jesus, He will carry us there.
He alone is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).Do you have Him in your heart? Have your sins been forgiven? Have you been healed from the ultimate disability?