There is a young paraplegic boy who attends our church. He lives his life in a wheelchair. Black and brown straps hold him tightly in place, keeping him from sliding out onto the floor. There are straps around his chest and legs and arms, even around his forehead. I once found myself wondering how uncomfortable that must be, but then remembered that he likely doesn’t feel a thing. Still, he is fully alert—you can tell by the way his eyes dart back and forth as his family wheels him through the hallways.
I see them almost every week, this faithful family, the father guiding his wheelchair from behind as his mother walks ahead of them, paving a way through the crowd as they make their way to their regular seat.
I often find myself feeling sad for the young boy. What must it be like to be so helpless and unresponsive, completely dependent on others for even your most basic needs? To depend on others to dress you, feed you, carry you, bathe you, even hold the straw as you struggle to take a drink?
If I am brutally honest, I can’t imagine a more maddening and frustrating existence. I’ve always treasured my independence, prided myself in the fact that I don’t need help, that I can get by on my own, even bragged about my competence and self-sufficiency. I love setting out to do something and then doing it. I take pride in my accomplishments—in the businesses I’ve run, the comfortable lifestyle I’ve created, the books and articles I’ve written. The great things I’ve done for God.
And yet each week I see this young boy who can never dream of doing any of these things. He’ll never hold down a job, never run a business, never start a family, never write a best-selling book. He will never be able to do great things for God.
And knowing that fact begs an important question. Perhaps the most life-altering question any of us can possibly ask.
Does that make him any less valuable to God?
What if I am the boy in the wheelchair? What if there isn’t anything I can possibly do for God that this boy can’t do? What if all the things I’ve accomplished have been little more than distractions from the one thing God most wants of me? Could it be that all God expects from any of us is to lean into his love? To gaze into his face and receive his gentle mercy? To immerse ourselves in the warmth of his unquenchable grace?
Maybe all God wants from any of us is to trust him.
I’ve never met the young handicapped boy, but I owe him a debt of gratitude. His very presence has given me an eternal glimpse into the heart of God. I hope I get a chance to thank him.
Under the Mercy,