Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Peace be with you!
Growing up, I was not as accepting of my Cerebral Palsy as I am now. As a young child, I struggled to make friends with my peers, since I was not fully integrated into the regular classroom until sixth grade. Then I had to grapple with the cliques and my own shy nature. Even through a school, I preferred to eat lunch in the special education classroom where it was quiet and I could visit with my aide. I did have a best friend during high school who also was in an electric wheelchair. We were inseparable, especially during the weekends. We went to every home football game and spent a lot of time at each other’s houses.
Beyond my one close friend, I do have to say that my saving grace was my awesome youth group during high school, which met every Sunday night. My friends at church would roll my electric wheelchair into the back of someone’s van or truck and off we would go to. One day we went to an outdoor Christian concert festival, and I can still hear us girls giggling as the strong boys lifted my electric wheelchair into the truck. We also attend the youth gathering in 2000 and partied the nights away.
In a sense, I grew up hanging around adults, so I never truly had a group of friends my age to do hang out with until college where I met other peers who have Cerebral Palsy. In college, I became a social butterfly and much more outgoing, because I could get out and about independently. I also experience the freedom of living on my own. I was invited to my friends’ dorm rooms and apartments. We even went to a few concerts without my parents.
Since college, I have been able to accept the fact I have Cerebral Palsy. I no longer view my condition as a negative; rather, I see it as a different way of life, which gives me a unique point-of-view. I especially realized the importance of my point of view during seminary. I no long see Cerebral Palsy as a challenge; it is a part of me and makes me an unique individual. Sure, I have my self-pity days, but those days are few and far between.
In Mark 1:29-31, we read about Simon’s mother-in-law being very ill with a fever. Keep in mind that a fever in Jesus’ day could kill an individual. Simon’s mother-in-law was not able to do her daily routine, including serving her household and being a good hostess. The fever left Simon’s mother-in-law unable to live her life as she was accustomed and left her nothing to do but to wait to die.
Simon was not ready for his mother-in-law to die, so he brought Jesus to her. At once, Jesus took her hand and lifted her up, relieving her of the fever and giving her the ability to serve again. The physical healing gave Simon’s mother-in-law a renewed purpose in life, restoring her self-worth.
However, Jesus also heals Simon’s mother-in-law psychosocially and spiritually. Simon’s mother-in-law is now able to go back to work, which restores her self-worth and place in the society. She is able to go back to what she loves and feels called to do.
This healing story reminds us of the promise of vocation through Jesus. No matter what your abilities, Jesus promises to use you to further his plan. During my childhood, God was preparing and healing me in order that I might learn to be patient and understanding of the needs of others. I am able and called to point out other individuals’ unique abilities because I have Cerebral Palsy and see things differently. Jesus restores us by healing us so he can use us through our abilities and bringing us back into a relationship with God the Father.
Sure, God has not healed me of my Cerebral Palsy in a way you or I may wish he has, but he is physically healing me everyday when I learn how to do something new, like wiping off the table after dinner. I now see God’s hand in my everyday life. Like psychosocial and spiritual healings, physical healings are ongoing. God has put amazing therapists and doctors in my life to make me more independent. Over the years I have had to learn to set up things so I could do them independently. For example, I usually have Jerry leave a cup of water or a can of Coke with a straw on the kitchen table all day, so I can get a drink when I get thirsty. In my shower, the shampoo, the conditioner, and the body wash are in hand pumps, so I can shower independently.
A physical healing also includes understanding what you may never be able to do without help or in the traditional way. I will probably never be able feed myself a full meal, but it also means I never eat alone. I cannot downhill ski standing up, but I can bi-ski (see picture). I have learned to take what I cannot do and make it into a positive or find a way to adapt [whatever “it” is] I want to do.
My healing story begins with my understanding that God will use me with my unique abilities. I am able to serve the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, because I have an unique point-of-view. God has used my ability to write (developed at an early age by gifted teachers – you know who you are!) through these devotions. He uses my life experiences to connect with others in similar situations, because I understand how it feels to want to be healed and what it means to be healed. I am who I am, because Jesus has called me to further his plan.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for physically healing us when we are sick and need a jumpstart. Help us to feel your healing touch as we long to answer your call and to be your agents in the world. Remind us that even through our different abilities we are called by you to further your plan. Thank you for restoring our sense of call through a vocation. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. How has Jesus restored you so you could serve or answer a call again?
2. How has your call changed over time?