Someone sent me an article yesterday titled, “…And You Think You Have Problems?” I’m not sure why she sent it — it came with a note, “found this while going through some papers” — maybe it was because I wrote it so she thought it belonged to me. The “Why?” on her end doesn’t really matter, because the “Why?” on my end was glaring: I needed it.
It’s an article I wrote twenty years ago about John, the son of a friend of mine who was paralyzed from his waist down from an accident when he was a teenager. I recalled the anger and frustration of his first couple years coping with this huge alteration to his life, but this article was written ten years after the accident, and John, who was by then an administrator at small Christian college, had invited me to come sing and speak at a student banquet.
I can still remember how the kid that picked me up at the airport was not the same angry kid I had known ten years prior. This was a cocky young man in what I could only describe as a BMX wheelchair who was attacking life instead of being paralyzed by it. He attacked the first curb we came to by slamming right into it instead of taking the ramp up that was only a few feet over. He actually caught some air as his wheelchair bounced up and over the 6-inch curb. He wheeled around and smiled at me: “I love doing that!”
John’s whole life is a major challenge. Everything in it, from getting up in the morning to going down a night, has “You can’t do that” written all over it, and John has somehow found a way to thumb his nose at that objection.
“I have to go out of my way to prove I’m normal,” he said. “Going out of his way” proved to be a number of things I will probably never do in my life, including tennis from a wheelchair, rock climbing, bungie jumping and his next hurdle — skydiving.
“My 78-year-old grandmother went skydiving for the first time this year and she highly recommends it.” Whatever this is, it obviously runs in the family.
John’s most unforgettable comment, however, was when he told me that if someone came up to him on the street and offered him a ticket that would give him his legs back, he’s not quite sure he would take it.
“I’d really have to think about it. I might take it … but then again … I might not. I like my life. I like facing challenges. I like accepting what God has asked me to do.”
I got that far and knew why Ann had sent me this article. I needed it to speak back into my life twenty years later because I am facing some challenges right now that I am tempted to think are too much for me. I realize now that if I even toy with thinking my life is too difficult for me, I am choosing to not accept what God has asked me to do. Is that what I want to do? I don’t think so.
John would wheel right into this stuff.