This week marks the 10th anniversary of my spinal cord injury. On May 25, 2010, I was seriously injured while riding my bicycle. Most of you are aware that I am a quadriplegic, being paralyzed from my shoulders down. I suppose that this anniversary is some accomplishment – rather, it is a divine blessing. When I was initially injured, I learned that life expectancy for spinal cord injured person averages 9 years post-injury. So, I thought that 10 years would be a good time to reflect on the greatest thing I have learned since my injury. I learned that:
I am deeply loved.
I am deeply loved by Christian friends.
God has given me many friends and many good friends throughout my life. This is especially true of the last 10 years when I have not been able to give much in return. Friends from the past have remained faithful. Friends with whom I had little contact for quite a while have reconnected. New friends, especially from our church and some from years past have given of themselves to me. The Lord has given me good and loyal friends: Jeff, Dave, Jim, Jeff, Jake, Bruce, Ray, David, Vernie, Dave, … I know it is always dangerous to make a list because some are just inevitably left off. But I named just a few anyway! The list, of course, is not exhaustive and I am sorry if you feel omitted. I thank and praise the Lord for the genuine Christian love exhibited by my friends!
I am deeply loved by my wife and family.
I am continually amazed by the constant love of my wife, Judy. She is truly a demonstration of self-giving and sacrificial love. Her loyal love for the Lord fuels and reflects the agape love of God towards me. For the last 50 years, she has been with me through many struggles and difficulties. Over the last 10 years, she has continuously and unconditionally loved me. Her so-called “24/7” care for me is awesome. She has spent many, many days and nights with me in emergency departments, intensive care units and has been a constant companion during many hospitalizations. She has an outstanding memory regarding my disability and care. Her quick and inquisitive mind has been a great comfort to me and a help to my physicians.
My routine physical care has been very demanding, especially during this pandemic when we have had no home health aides. Judy has given me much loving care in the unpleasantries of my physical needs. Even when she is greatly fatigued, she remains cheerful and optimistic. My care is grueling, heavy, and demanding – it seems that as if it is unending. Yet, she continues to demonstrate her love through her actions. She always, almost always – no – always gives me better than I deserve!
Further, my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren regularly demonstrate sacrificial love to me. Long trips, hospital visits, preparing meals, face time, yard work, fixing meals, doing chores around the house, helping with my care, getting drinks, feeding Pop-Pop, fixing my headphones, scratching my head, etc. Each action shows deep love and concern. God has greatly blessed me with a loving family! I praise the Lord for each of them. Finally…
I am deeply loved by God.
I have been deeply loved by God for all my life. I know many Bible verses and accounts which teach this. I know that God has loved me since before he created the world, according to Ephesians 1. I know that he demonstrated the extent of his love by the death of his son, Jesus Christ, on a Roman cross.
Romans 5:8 … God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
I know the verbs to love in both Hebrew and Greek, the biblical languages. I know that I have lived in the shelter of God’s love for 72 years. These are wonderful, significant truths that I cherish but usually need to be reminded of. But these are not what I am referring to.
I am thinking of the actual experiencing or realization of God’s love. Since my injury, the Lord has slowed me down so that I more clearly recognize his love and active concern. In other words, it is one thing to know about something and it is quite another to recognize it for what it is. For instance, one of my favorite Hebrew verbs is hesed. Older Bibles translated it as “lovingkindness,” but most modern translations read “steadfast love.” A well-known Hebrew scholar suggests that “loyal love” or “covenant love” captures the significance. It is extremely comforting to be assured of God’s committed covenant love and loyalty, especially when in the intensive care unit or threatened by uncertainty. This is love you can count on!
I have had several occasions when I was near death and was able to rest in the loyal love of God. In fact, on one occasion I had said my farewells to my family and wife while relaxing in the love of God and expecting to pass on. In addition to these dramatic moments, God repeatedly has shown his love through his continuous protection and provision for my physical and spiritual needs. For instance, in doing so, he has given me a loving wife and family.
I praise God for the way that he has loved me and has continued to demonstrate his steadfast love in my life, through my wife, family, and Christian friends. It also motivates me to share this love with others. Recognizing God’s loyal love in the past encourages me for the future.