I woke up the first time, feeling uncomfortable. I had been asleep for maybe 45 minutes and felt somewhat uncomfortable. I fell back to sleep and woke up about 45 minutes later, knowing I was cold. (That’s the way it is with me; it takes me a while to know how I feel.) Anyway, I followed that pattern for the rest of the night, until my wife came to the rescue at about 6:30 or 6:45 a.m. She informed me that the remainder of the first floor of our house was much colder. “The furnace was not working,” she said, as she lovingly placed another blanket on me and told me to go back to sleep for an hour. Disobedient me – I could not sleep and used the time to fret about not being able to fix anything or remedy the problem. Then I finally prayed for help.
If you don’t know me, you’re probably wondering what’s wrong with him. Well, I am a quadriplegic, with no use of my hands and arms, legs or feet. I am completely paralyzed and without feeling from the shoulders down. I am completely disabled. I’m also a slow learner, or rather doer; I know I should have prayed first but I didn’t.
It takes a while for me to get up in my wheelchair each morning (think 3-hour procedure). During the process, I quipped to my caregiver, “I’ll have to call for help; there waiting for me to do it.” I was wrong. By the time I got up Will, my son, was designated and finally called the Gas Company. Since he had smelled gas, they deemed it an emergency and responded quickly. Upon inspection, the technician declared that the problem was not with the gas company. The issue had to do with the igniter, which he pointed out to my son.
Will was able to locate the part and installed it without much of a hitch. The furnace did fire ( ignite) and by 4 p.m. heat was restored to our home. Praise the Lord for a “handy” and willing son! Praise the Lord for his good providence.
Meanwhile, I was able to function in my office under the comfort of 2 warm blankets, a space heater and bright sunshine streaming through glass windows. The loss of heat made me even more aware of God’s goodness in keeping it working most of the time, the love and assistance of compassionate family members and my own inability.
Let’s think about disability. I am disabled and do not have the ability to do many things. But I can do some things. With the assistance of technology, helpful caregivers (spouse, family, friends, and aides) I have the ability to do a lot. I can operate a motorized wheelchair, use a computer to help locate heater parts, write a blog, etc. I feel like I am able to contribute. Nevertheless, I am considered “completely disabled.”
Many people think of Christianity in the same way. They think that their relationship with God in terms of disability. This is partly true; the Bible clearly teaches that we are unable to contribute to our deliverance from the guilt and effects of sin. Our relationship with God has been broken and needs to be fixed. Sometimes Christians talk of our lack of ability to mend this brokenness. Yet at the same time, we sometimes think that we can nevertheless contribute or help in the process.
This is to misunderstand the teaching of Scripture. The Bible uses another figure of speech to help us understand our severed relationship with our Creator. We are not only disabled but we are “dead in our transgressions and sins.”
Ephesians 2:1 – 7 informs believers in Jesus about God’s work in our lives, using the figure of death. He says we used to be dead, but now he has made us alive in Christ. Read for yourself: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Many people think that when it comes to their relationship with God, they are just like me – labeled disabled, but having the capacity to do certain, even vital, functions. But this is at odds with what the Scripture says. People are not only disabled but dead spiritually.
We really need someone to save us – to make us alive and give us the ability – even desire to know and love God our Savior. Praise to the Father who planned the process, chose us and loved us before all time. Praise to the Son, who redeemed us. Praise to the Holy Spirit, who renews us. (See Ephesians 1:1 – 6) So, I give praise to the Lord who loves me and saved me AND who gave me a disability to make his grace more plain to understand.