I recently took my daughter to her weekly swim lessons. She’s lucky because she swims at a physical therapy facility and the water is a balmy 94 degrees – a far cry from the icy lake water I learned to swim in – but I digress. Half of the pool at the facility is for lessons and the other half is designated for aquatic therapy.
On this one particular day, there were three handicapped young adults with their caretakers and therapists in the therapy side of the pool. As I watched these young people with cerebral palsy struggle against the bondage of a body that wouldn’t do as it was told, I began to feel a little snippy with God. Why do you allow this? What is the purpose of this cruel disability? How distorted Your creation has become.
Mind you, I am no stranger to disability – I grew up with an uncle with mental retardation. He is one of my favorite people. Nevertheless, I found myself saddened and upset with the lot that had been handed to these young people.
Then I felt prompted to pray: God give me your eyes to see this situation as you do.
And He did.
During my “blame game,” I hadn’t noticed the joy in their faces as they splashed and played in the water. I hadn’t seen that the warmth of the water gave them a measure of relief from the dystonic clutches of their rigid muscles.
I hadn’t noticed the real life example of unconditional love that was right in front of me.
An older woman was swimming with, floating under and stretching the limbs of a young man I can only assume was her son. When they were done, I watched with surprise as she effortlessly picked up his rigid body and carried him up the ramp and out of the pool. I watched her place him lovingly in his wheelchair, already prepared with soft, fluffy towels. I watched as she quickly put her jeans and a t-shirt over a sopping wet swimsuit. I saw her dry him, secure him and give him a kiss. Then she paused and gave him a look of adoration that just about broke my heart.
Then it hit me: this is what love is.
It’s sacrifice. It’s unconditional. It puts others first. I saw 1st Corinthians 13 lived out right in front of my eyes.
Only God can make beauty from ashes. Only God can take the greatest difficulties and turn them into opportunities to manifest the greatest love of all.
Only God can take weakness and turn it into strength. Only God can take what’s last and make it first. Only God can seek out the lowly and set them on high.
And only God can take a man hung on a cross as a criminal and make Him Savior of all.
In this upside down world, we need eyes like Jesus. We need to see through the hurt, the disease, the pain, the struggle and see that God is not far off. He is in the midst of it all.
[Photo credit: keencarlene from morguefile.com]