I shared these words with Domeka, a dynamic young pastor my Papa mentors on Mondays, as he slowly hobbled in with a swollen sprained ankle. ouch! Hard to get around on crutches & it’s painfully hard to get motivated to get around, but he determinedly made it.
My Papa emailed this quote years ago when I fell (splat) on some unwieldy pavement, fracturing my ankle during Christmas holidays in South Africa. It became a mantra of sorts as I struggled to cope with life on crutches. The thing is, I didn’t go home for Christmas since I couldn’t bear the 30+ hour journey after neck disc surgery the previous summer in America. (I returned in August a wee bit too early figuring 1/2 days were possible, but not figuring how the long journey would set the healing process back…and, well, HURT.)
God IS good – ALL the time – and going back early assisted the birth process of a large malaria project for the whole country of Tanzania (the 1/2 days paid off!) Back to South Africa…hobbling through the airport on crutches with a scary neck brace did serve as an effective male repellent (chivalry seems to be rather lost in males these days!) But that was just the beginning. After 4 weeks wearing an aircast, hopping & hobbling (while still driving, mind you, & keeping a regular work schedule in Tanzania) I went to Dr. Ype who x-rayed the misbehaving-still-very-swollen ankle to find it was actually badly fractured. On went an immovable cast (no more driving) and stern instructions YOU MUST USE CRUTCHES for three – gasp – months.
egads. My apartment was located up 3 flights of stairs. Our office was – guess what – up 3 flights of stairs. January – February – March are hotter-than-fireballs (in the August ‘winter’ of Dar es Salaam temperatures are a cool 80 degrees!) So, I dripped to work, dripped to meetings (literally puddled my way up 4 flights of stairs to UNHCR) & dripped home on crutches…
…what does it take to stop you? what does it take to stop you?… (hop, hop, breathe, rest arms, drip, drip..)
My travel schedule was heavy: a conference in Uganda, Roll Back Malaria regional meetings in Nairobi, important international meetings in Arusha. African airports generally tend to have lots of stairs and few elevators. I learned the value of zipdrive sticks – trying to drag a laptop around on crutches through an airport increases the puddle factor TREMENDOUSLY.
Then, while up in Arusha – and still on crutches – I met malaria up close & personal: 104 fever, zigzagidy joint pain like you can’t believe & yet still ‘wobbled’ (hobbling in a wobbly fashion) to meetings at our National Office as a walking advertisement for our malaria programs…
OK, so God was extremely generous in the grace department (I am a rather wimpy amazon woman with very limited muscle-development inclinations) but this whole-do-Africa-on-crutches thing DID build up character muscles. (here i previously thought climbing the ‘stairs of repentance’ up Mount Sinai in Egypt was hard..humph!)
Of course, I asked for God’s help (note ‘wimpy amazon’ is understated) & to have made it through that time on crutches – in the heat – is nothing short of miraculous. But I also thought of the many children, mothers, fathers, sisters & brothers suffering from malaria, HIV/AIDS and so many other challenges… their courageous examples of not giving up also motivated me to keep going (and then there’s always my Papa, who can’t move anything & yet he faithfully keeps on, keeping on!)
What does it take to stop you? There are all sorts of crutches that keep us from moving forward after our spills (splat) on the pavement of life – bruised egos & empty pockets, tears and fears, maybe sprained hearts too hurt to love anew. Why not let God keep building those character muscles. Instead of asking ‘why?’ focus on taking that next step…drip, drip, puff, puff, wobble, hobble…and you might find yourself before long walking healed in His Love – casting those crutches aside.
“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be disjointed, but rather may be healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13