In 2010 I traveled to Costa Rica with Erinn and Cate for surgery. It was rumored that this procedure could do a lot to alleviate some of the significant symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis that I was experiencing.
To make a long story short, The surgery did not pan out for me like I hoped it would, but I am glad I tried it. Otherwise I would have forever wondered if something more could have been done to slow this thing down.
But alas, I just ‘celebrated’ 20 years of living with this disease this past summer, and its toll on my body marches on.
Our family made its ‘every second year’ trip to Newfoundland this past summer. It was a bittersweet time for me as while I absolutely love being home and all that comes with that, my parents got to see just how much worse my body has gotten from when they saw me just two summers ago. That was hard both for them and for me. But we got through it as families do, and we had a wonderful time together. I am thankful for that two week vacation.
(I really wanted to have a day ‘on the water’ aboard a boat while we were in Newfoundland. This pic is of their creativity and willingness to do what it takes to make that happen. My cousin borrowed a wheelchair, and then my dad and cousins lifted me aboard)
As a family the 3 of us got to, for the first time ever, preach together at my sister’s church. That was such a blessing on so many levels. Then the following Sunday I was so incredibly thankful to have been invited to share my personal story at the church I grew up in. And now next week I’ve been invited to travel to Winnipeg to participate in a weakened dialogue on faith and disabilities.
All of these things have gotten me more focused lately on thinking about how this disease and my faith intersect.
My mind took me back to 2010 again. Not the time we went for the surgery, but the time we were in Newfoundland that summer and went to my home church again. There was a retired Salvation Army officer (clergy) there who went forward for prayer that morning. During that time, all these very rugged and strong working men surrounded him and laid hands on him and prayed. It was so moving to watch. My mother leaned over to me and whispered that he had been diagnosed with cancer and was going to visit his specialist on Tuesday.
When he stood up he said this to the congregation; “I just had an appointment with my cancer specialist. He told me that everything was going to be all right.” By then I was so moved I was ready to be mopped off the floor. But then he continued on with something even more profound and that I will never forget. He said this;
“I don’t want you to pray for my healing. I have no doubt that the God of the universe could fix cancer. So I could live through this or I could die. I don’t really care which way it goes as long as my life brings glory to God. That’s what I want you to pray for for me.”
Those are some words I internalized that day. I am trying my best to live this life in a way that points to something/someone bigger than me. That’s my only real hope.
That’s my prayer.
I don’t understand it.
I don’t like it.
I don’t want it.
But I am trying as best I can to place my trust in a God who loves me and understands the mysteries of life, disease, and death.
At the end of the day, that’s all I really have any control over.
I don’t want to be ‘that guy that can’t walk’. I have been pitying myself because of my broken body and have questioned you for letting this happen to me.
And then you answered me by reminding me of your own battered body and the beauty that is found there.
Help me to continue to embrace the wisdom That can only be found in weakness.
Thank you for hearing my prayer.