Posts Tagged ‘adversity’

Recently, I had something scary happen to me. I was on vacation and had just enjoyed a nice campfire. I decided to get cleaned up and call it a day, so I went inside and started shaving. Suddenly, I realized that I couldn’t feel the right side of my face. Instantly, the entire right side of my face was puffy and completely paralyzed. It happened so quickly that I thought I must be allergic or must have been bit by something. I decided to take a couple Benadryl, an Ibuprofen and get some sleep. When I woke up the next morning with the same condition, I started to worry. When you ‘google’ my symptoms (facial paralysis, swelling, inability to taste, etc.) the results are not good. The number one result is STROKE. I packed and hurried home and went straight to the ER. I discovered that when you mention “paralysis” at the front desk, there is ZERO wait time! They whisked me back to a bed, hooked me up to a bunch of machines, and the ER docs were waiting for me at my bedside. Thankfully, I was quickly diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. This is horrible in itself, but much better than a stroke!!

Bell’s Palsy is a demoralizing affliction.  It is easily observable. Simple tasks like smiling, eating, forming words, whistling, drinking, kissing, facial expressions, etc. were either impossible or extremely difficult.

I am learning a lot through my ordeal. This is the closest thing I’ve had to a “disability”.

1. True friends. I found out that my “best friends” were quick to call me and pray for me.  True friends look you in the eye; even when one eye doesn’t work so well. Some ‘casual’ acquaintences would avoid me or stop talking to me altogether. There were times I wanted to remind people, “I’m still here.” “I’m still the same guy.” “You don’t have to treat me different just because I look different.”

2. Authentic Leadership. I was most impressed with the fact that everyone on CCV’s Teaching Team took the time to personally call me and tell me they were praying for me.  They didn’t have to do that.  They got an “all-staff” email they could have simply replied to. Yet, these men stopped and took the time to call me the week following my diagnosis to show their concern and support.  Don Wilson, Todd Clark, Mark Moore and Ashley Wooldridge are the REAL DEAL.  These leaders WALK the TALK and I’m proud to serve with them. I’ll follow leaders like that anywhere.

3. Priorities.  This was a wake-up call for me.  I put a lot of confidence in my ‘outside’ appearance and physical ability. Especially because my job includes a lot of video and ON SCREEN appearance. I was thinking, “Am I going to have to find a different way to serve God?”  God is teaching me a lesson to put my faith and trust in ETERNAL, not EARTHLY things.  Everything on earth can change so quickly, but our confidence needs to come from God, who is unchanged.

4. Humility.  I am learning to treat others with respect. This has really heightened my awareness of how I treat others.  Do I avoid those who are afflicted physically, emotionally, spiritually?  How do I treat ALL of God’s children?  Am I congregating with only ‘perfect’ people?

5. Positivity. Most people have been upbeat or positive when sharing their stories of how they had Bell’s & it eventually went away. However, I was kind of surprised to hear all the “doom and gloom” accounts.  Well-meaning folks would come and tell me that their cousin or uncle or so-and-so had Bell’s Palsy when they were younger and it NEVER WENT AWAY.  One guy I encountered showed me that his face was still paralyzed 15 years after his ordeal!  I prefer to have the stories of victory and/or perseverance when I’m in the middle of my struggle.

My symptoms continue to improve and I expect to make a full recovery, but I am convinced that God allowed this to happen for a reason.  It’s been said that “Leaders are Learners”, and I’m doing my best to learn and grow from this experience. I hope you can too.

Is it bad to show weakness?

I read recently the story of a 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident.  The boy was doing well, so he couldn’t understand why, after three months of training, the master had taught him only one move.

“Sensei,” the boy finally said, “Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?”

“This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know,” the sensei replied.  Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training.

Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament.  Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches.  The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match.  Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals.  This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced.  For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched.  Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out.  He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened.  “No,” the sensei insisted, “Let him continue.”  Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard.  Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him.  The boy had won the match and the tournament.  He was the champion.

On the way home, the boy and the sensei reviewed every move in each and every match.  Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind: “Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?”

“You won for two reasons,” the sensei answered.  “First you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo.  And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”

The boy’s biggest weakness had become his greatest strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Allow your weakness to become God’s strength.  Allow your mediocrity to make way for God’s miracle. Consider this: Maybe God hasn’t intervened because you’re trying to do it all on your own.  Maybe God hasn’t demonstrated his power in your life because you’ve relied too much on your own strength. I mean, you CAN’T make it to heaven on your own!  God gave you help through his son Jesus Christ.  In our weakness, he becomes strong!

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Gideon in Judges 7: He was asked to deliver Israel from the Midianite army (as numerous as the sand on the seashore) who had impoverished and persecuted them for years. Gideon knew he’d have to amass quite an army to be victorious. Through all his efforts, he mustered only 32,000 men. They were totally outmatched and outnumbered, but here’s what God said:

Judges 7:2 (NIV) 2 The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her,

So God narrowed the “field” to 300 fighting men!  That’s right, an army of only 300 vs. an army more “numerous than the sand on the seashore”!  I think God was saying, “OK, now watch this!”

It’s been said that Chester Puller, a marine in Vietnam, when completely surrounded by the enemy closing in from all sides said, “Finally, we’ve got them exactly where we want them.”  That’s the fighting spirit!

I wonder how many times God’s been waiting to jump in, but I’ve relied too much on my talents. My resources. My finances. My wisdom.  I wonder if God is just waiting for me to shut up, slow up, or stop up so he can say “look up…now watch this!”