My friend Brandi has MS (multiple sclerosis). She was diagnosed in her early 20’s and now she’s 33. She doesn’t drive, and for the past few years, she’s started using a cane for stability when she walks.
Her family is planning a trip this summer to New Mexico to visit family. While there, they plan to go to some parks and visit the zoo. Bottom line, this trip will require a lot of walking. So her husband Josh ordered her a wheelchair.
For Brandi, the idea of a wheelchair was crushing. A wheelchair screamed ‘failure.’ It seemed like another step down the MS mountain. It meant losing more of her independence, which meant more dependence on others. It meant standing out instead of blending in. And what would people say? What would her 3-year-old son think? A wheelchair was certainly NOT part of her plan. She was worried. She didn’t want this wheelchair to define her.
What do you do when God takes you down a road you didn’t choose to walk down?
What do you do when your plan doesn’t match God’s plan?
What do you do when a wheelchair is part of God’s plan?
It makes me think of Paul. His life goal was to know Christ and make Him known. Everywhere he went, he was preaching and teaching. I’m sure he had grand visions of preaching from a pulpit in an amphitheater in front of hundreds of thousands of people. Instead, he found himself chained in a prison. Uh, I’m sure this was not part of Paul’s plan. But then he said this in Philippians 1:13, “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”
It was clear—to the whole palace guard—and everyone else—that Paul was in chains for Christ!!!
Philippians 1:12, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.”
Paul was able to see his chains, not as a hindrance to the gospel, but an advancement.
Where would we be today if Paul hadn’t been in prison writing all those letters to churches that make up a good majority of the New Testament?
Paul had no idea the lasting impact his words would have centuries later.
God used Paul in a prison to reach more people than he ever would have from a pulpit.
I don’t want my precious friend to be in a wheelchair. I wish I could help her pack it back up in that box and write on it “Return to Sender.”
But I can’t do that.
At the end of our conversation she said something profound, “Rach, I feel like my crippled body is often a reflection of what my heart looks like. I need to be more worried about my spiritually crippled heart than my physically crippled body.”
Oh Brandi! If there’s one thing I know about you, it’s that although you might have a physical handicap, your spiritual body is rock solid and strong!!! You might walk with a cane. You might be hot wheeling it some in a wheelchair, but you walk this Christian walk with more stability than many of us with healthy physical bodies ever will. You see God more clearly from the vantage point of a wheelchair than many do who stand tall on two strong feet.
See, sometimes the way up is down. To go higher we have to stoop lower. Often we walk more surely with a limp.
And many of us need spiritual wheelchairs because of our crippled hearts.
So I am praying for you, sweet friend, that God will take this wheelchair and make it count for His glory! That He will use your “chains” for Christ! Like Paul, these chains do not define you, no, quite the opposite, they proclaim HIM!
When we give God our chains, He uses them to advance His kingdom in ways we can’t even imagine. There’s just no telling what our great God can do with a life that is fully committed to Him. Every single aspect of it–even a wheelchair!