Driving my wheelchair down that busy passageway of the VA medical center, I observed the director of our unit and wanted to thank him for all of the good care I had been receiving. I made my way next to him and introduced myself. He responded, “I know who you are. You’re the one with such a strong will to live.”
I frequently hear comments like this: “I admire your strength.” I suppose it’s because I seem to be functioning rather well in my wheelchair even though I am paralyzed from my shoulders down. Actually, this is surprising to me since I am much more familiar with weaknesses than ever before. Since my injury in the spring of 2010, I have become intimately acquainted not only with paraplegia but also three of its associates: UTIs, pneumonia and C. diff.
During the first three years following my injury I repeatedly and continuously struggle with these problems. More often than not it seemed that these struggles resulted in hospitalization. These three maladies are a constant threat and imposing enemies. One bout with anyone of them seriously weakens my condition and saps almost all of my energy. Often times there is a follow-up visit with one or both of the others.
On more than one occasion I have been laying in a hospital bed and felt too weak to read the Scriptures or to pray. I am very grateful that the Lord has provided me with a loving wife and God has repeatedly used to strengthen me in the Lord. There’ve also been visits from pastors and friends who have encouraged me. I thank God for these encouragers.
There have also been many times when no one is around and I am feeling very low – too tired to think and barely able to pray. At times like these I usually get a visit from one of my three close friends.
Following my injury, in the early days of my current situation, I started recalling bits and pieces of The Apostles Creed. This is not surprising as I had been preaching a series on it and so many of the words and supporting Scriptures were relatively fresh in my mind. I remember thinking about (okay just remembering) and rejoicing in the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for me. But couldn’t remember all the words at first but I kept trying and eventually they came to mind. Since then, I frequently return to meditate upon these words and concepts.
Likewise, even while my mind was clouded with medications and fatigue I could pray for my wife, children and grandchildren. As I tried to expand my prayers I began to think upon the words Jesus instructed us to pray – frequently known as the Lord’s Prayer. Again, I struggled to remember it in its entirety but persevered and was eventually rewarded. I began to remember it in entirety and began to meditate and expand on each of the phrases.
More recently, I have added Psalm 23 to my inner circle. I am learning to focus not only on the complete Psalm also the words and phrases to receive comfort and strength from the Lord. It is truly a great comfort to know that the Lord is watching over me for good and not for evil.
So, I’m glad to introduce to you these three intimate friends of mine. I am visited by the very often, especially during the night and early mornings when I am unable to sleep. I also encourage you to become more familiar with them and to treat them like close friends.