“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” Psalm 100:4…………….
I had moved into New York City just days before, at 50 years old, with no family or friends in the area, having left behind a relatively easy, comfortable, secure, and convenient life in Virginia, and, before that, even more so in coastal South Carolina. I was in New Jersey for a few hours parking my old beloved car in a parking lot, at an enormous monthly price, because I had been unable to find a cheaper, or even free, alternative. I was exhausted, weary, somewhat overwhelmed by the enormity of what was clearly the biggest step of faith I had ever taken as a Christ follower, and I was quite honestly in my heart moaning, groaning, whining, even pitying myself because it just seemed like one daunting task after another as I figured out how everything would work now that I had made the big move. Right in the midst of my complaining, in my heart anyway, and my lack of thanksgiving, likely due to extreme fatigue more than anything having made two enormous moves in the past month, first from Virginia to a hotel in New Jersey, now from the New Jersey hotel into New York City, with my little ministry, my stuff, and my precious special needs and senior dogs, was when I saw her.
That part of New Jersey wasn’t crowded in the least. The sidewalks contained few, if any people. So anyone I saw would have stood out anyway. But nobody I saw stood out like this woman. The first woman I had ever seen, or person for that matter, with no legs, and with no arms. Wheeling herself around in a motorized wheelchair. But if you think I’m writing to tell you about how I saw a woman with no legs and no arms, you’re quite mistaken. Because nothing about this woman stood out to me like something that was utterly astonishing.
When I first saw her, she was zipping in her wheelchair out of a building, talking loudly as can be, to someone I couldn’t see who must have been inside the building, and her voice was boisterous, ebullient, joyful, as she spoke in another language, but nothing, absolutely nothing about this woman stood out to me more than what I can remember in this very moment, days later.
She had an absolutely immeasurably, astonishingly big SMILE! Yes, SMILE! She was smiling as much as a person can possibly smile. She was so incredibly happy! So delighted! So joyful! I was completely blown away – and deeply convicted, and deeply humbled. As I walked down the street, I started praising the Lord for all He had given me – including my legs and arms. And I thought of how over 20 years earlier, I had walked down that same sidewalk, totally broken, totally lost, totally unable to function as a healthy normal human being, with no sense of purpose, with no hope, my heart and life filled with darkness. One day I had been so broken, and so sick from anorexia, that I had walked to a store and had to call a friend to walk me back to my apartment because I was too weak physically to walk by myself. Not to mention too weak mentally to function in my day to day life. Totally broken by my own sin, and totally broken by others’ sins that had harmed me. Now, all these years later, upon seeing this precious woman with her amazing smile despite her lack of legs and arms, I was convicted by God’s Spirit of how much I have to be thankful for.
About 20 minutes later, as I continued to walk down that same sidewalk, I saw the woman again. She was buzzing along in her wheelchair and pulled up at another building. All of a sudden, she cocked her head to the side and used the side of her head to press hard enough against a buzzer that she could buzz the door open and let herself in. See, she didn’t even have a hand, not to mention an arm, or even a foot, or a leg, to let herself in to the next place she intended to go.
Friend, what excuse do I have to whimper and whine, to complain and moan, to pity myself and to bemoan my pitiful little challenges, when people around the world face challenges most of us can’t even fathom? The Lord throughout the entire Bible makes abundantly clear He desires and deserves our LOVE, our WORSHIP, our PRAISE, our OBEDIENCE, our SERVITUDE, our FELLOWSHIP, our DEVOTION, our DEDICATION, and our THANKSGIVING. He also makes clear He hates complaining. I don’t know about you, but I still have a long ways to go when it comes to keeping my heart ever filled with praise for my beloved precious awesome forever amazingly beautiful, dear, and magnificent, glorious, and splendorous everlasting holy and righteous eternal LORD GOD ALMIGHTY!
That lovely woman that day, without arms, without legs, had a shining smile that remains with me – and I hope will remain with you. A reminder to be thankful. To the Lord. For all that He is, for all that He has done, for all that He does, for all He will do, and, for those of us who have repented and placed our trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, for being loved by Him, loving Him in return, being in His company, forever and evermore! Amen!