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Archive for the month “November, 2016”

Electric Wheels Find A Purple Heart

Corporal Robert Thrailkill, Jr. should not be alive today.  Six years ago at the young age of 19 Robert was deployed in Afghanistan clearing improvised explosive devices from a secured compound when the accident occurred.  Stepping on an IED that was hidden in a mound of dirt Robert was thrown backwards and found himself on his back.  He knew it was serious when he was unable to move his legs.  The first miracle was the fact that Robert could analyze the situation at all.  You see Robert had an array of explosives on his person and they should have went off from the explosion.  Later the conclusion was made that Robert’s last step to his left instead of his right made the difference.  Had he stepped to his right Robert would have been in eternity without God.  It was years later when he saw the light, but God already was saving him for the future.

After the explosion Robert was flown to a hospital where he stayed for a month.  His legs were amputated from the knees down and he was transported to a rehab hospital where he would stay the next two years.  Robert was given the purple heart for his sacrifice for his country.  He worked hard at his rehab and at long last it was time for him to go home and enter the every day world he had left when he was whole.

When Robert got back to civilian life things were not the same.  Living in Caledonia Michigan in an apartment he not only had to get used to his prosthetic legs, but he had to deal with every day things such as showering or getting around his apartment.  It was difficult for Robert to just do the simple things.  Fortunately a group called Homes for Our Troops stepped in.  A home was built for Robert which has wider doorways, pull down shelves, roll in showers, and other adjustments that fit Robert’s needs.  “When I was injured”, Robert expressed at the site of his future home, “I told my family that I was not going to let my injuries define me as a person.”  “But some things made it harder.”  The new house made things so much better for Robert to live normally in but there was still something missing in his life.

Alexis his new wife is a Christian and was able to lead Robert to a place of repentance and acceptance of Jesus into his life!  From that time on Robert was content.  It was like God dismantled his old thought process and gave him real meaning in life.  He was happy with his growing family and the things that he had.  He was grateful for the love that others had shown for him.  There was one thing that he never asked for but he and his wife had agreed would make things much easier.  You see Robert had an electric wheelchair while he was rehabbing but there was no way for him to get  it from Washington DC to his home.  Even if he had a way, that benefit had been taken away due to budget cuts.

I’ve often told people that I let God direct where these stories come from.  They come in all different ways and I never have to worry about what to write about.  That was the case of the story you are reading.  Two weeks ago I was standing in a long line to an event.  I happened to be behind a lady named Nancy and we started talking.  I told Nancy that I write Christian stories and gave her my website card.    Later when I was in conversation with a friend of hers, Nancy told her side of this story to my family.  My wife mentioned to me that I should hear the story and I had Nancy write her number down on the back of one of my cards so I could call her and get the details.  By mistake I accidentally gave the card to someone who was interested in reading my stories.   Amazingly Nancy found my number and contacted me.  She had felt that our meeting was no coincidence.  When I heard her story I had to agree.

Nancy had a friend that had an electric wheelchair.  It was originally bought for her husband but he wasn’t using it.  Her friend asked Nancy if there was someone she knew who would buy it for $600?  The chair was worth far more than this amount but her friend just wanted it to be a blessing to someone in need.  When Nancy was hesitant her friend asked her if she knew anyone that would pay $300 for the chair?  Nancy didn’t hesitate “I’ll buy it from you for $300”, she exclaimed.  Nancy had to take the money out of her retirement but she felt in her heart that it was the right thing to do.  Although Nancy had two successful knee replacement surgeries she told me she only used the chair once.  She had to go to an event and at the time she needed the chair to get around.  After that the chair sat at her house untouched.  Nancy’s knees were getting stronger and she was able to walk so she didn’t need a wheelchair. Still in her heart she felt something deep within.  She felt that someone could and should be using that wheelchair but who?

Nancy was eating at a restaurant one morning when she bit into a metal object.  She was in enormous pain as her tooth was severely damaged.  She needed a dentist appointment right away and frantically started calling offices that were listed in the phone book.  Fortunately she found a dentist with an opening but she would have to wait until the early afternoon.  Nancy was disappointed that she couldn’t get in earlier because of her pain.  She suffered through the morning and finally her appointment time came.

When Nancy walked into the dentist office sitting in the waiting room was none other than Robert and Alexis.  Right away Nancy noticed Robert’s manual wheel chair with the purple heart emblem on it.  Nancy asked Robert (who had a dentist appointment too that day) why he didn’t have an electric wheelchair?  Finding out that they couldn’t have one because of the new rules and their lack of ability to bring one home, Nancy gave Robert and Alexis her number.  Days passed and Nancy hadn’t heard from Robert and Alexis.  One day she got a call and it was them.  “Do you still have that wheelchair and is it still for sale?”, they wanted to know.  “Yes it is still available”, Nancy said and I’m selling it for $300 which is the amount I paid for it.  They bought that wheelchair from Nancy and she delivered it to their house in Belding, Michigan.  The reason they had not called sooner was explained.  Robert and Alexis were involved in an automobile accident and Robert had injured one of his partial legs.  The injury made it more of a reason to secure the electric wheelchair.  When I asked Alexis if they had prayed for an electric wheelchair her answer surprised me.  “No”, she said, “We were content with what we had.”  She admitted that they thought that it would be nice for Robert to be able to get around more with his growing family.  Still they didn’t consider it a necessity.

This past Sunday I heard a sermon that seemed to fit Robert and Alexis situation.  The theme that I remember most about the sermon is the fact that God is on our side!  He is our helper!  I’m reminded of the fact that God knows our needs before we do.  Romans 8:28 states that “All things work together for good for those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  I am convinced that because Robert and Alexis were content and happy with what they had and their love for God he interceded.  Because he knows our needs we don’t have to be begging God for things.  He knows the desires of our heart and he blesses us when we seek him first.

I found it ironic that Nancy said I would probably talk to Alexis when I called.  Robert has been out hunting.  Yes, he is putting that new electric wheelchair to good use doing something that he loves and enjoying the blessings that God has bestowed upon him. In this Thanksgiving season we should always remember that God loves us very much!  He desires to bless his children who put him first in their lives.  I’m reminded by this story that God wants to meet our needs and will use other people in wonderful ways to accomplish his desire!  He creates circumstances that lead to his blessing coming to pass in our lives! Nancy told me she was just happy to have a part in the story, Robert and Alexis are thrilled with their new electric wheelchair, and I am thankful this Thanksgiving that God had a plan to use me to share this story with you!

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Slip Sliding Away

Have you ever had something you wanted to start and follow through with only to find that for whatever reason you quit?  Maybe it was the New Years resolution to work out more or lose weight.  Maybe it was the idea of saving money or getting a new job.  We tend to be great starters in life.  I have found that the hardest thing to do is not starting but persevering.  Starting a good thing is great because that is the beginning point we all have to come to.  However, many can start but few can finish.  Most of the things we strive for in life can be achieved.  The question is how much do we want them?  That simple question can give us the insight into if we have the desire to achieve the goal.  You see in anything we do there will be obstacles.  Our desire to get through the obstacles, keep our eye on the prize and never give up will determine if we reach our goal.  Quitting is not forever either.  There are times that we might quit for awhile and then discover that we had a momentary failure which isn’t permanent.  At this point we can re-establish our dream and become more determined than ever to reach it!

In 1977 Paul Simon recorded a song titled “Slip Sliding Away.”  The chorus goes

“Slip sliding away, Slip sliding away,You know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip sliding away.”  I have read many interpretations of this song.  In a vast majority it seems that the lyrics are described as sad.  There are some who describe the song as among the saddest of all time.  It is interpreted as a metaphor for life in that we may want something and strive for it only to find that we slip away from it.  Considered most depressing is the idea of the prize almost within our grasp and then suddenly we slide back and lose it altogether.

I have heard the term backslider my whole life and I am sure you have heard it too.  It means a person who is walking the christian walk but then for whatever reason quits.  I heard a sermon about why this happens and there were many symptoms.  Within all of these symptoms was a root cause.  That root cause was selfishness.  A person whose heart is pulling further away from God is invariably selfish.  Selfishness is defined as being concerned excessively or exclusively, for oneself or one’s own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, regardless of others. When Jesus was asked which commandment in the law is the greatest he answers in Matthew 22:37.  Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  This describes a totally unselfish act.  When we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind there is no desire to be selfish, only to also love the people around us unconditionally.

The problem that we have as Christians is that all around us we are getting pulled into the world’s standards.  The “Me Generation” is still alive and well.  This ideology is all about how we can get the greatest satisfaction out of life through actions and thinking.  In ways it all sounds good but we have to understand that it is a humanistic approach.  The center of it’s being is not God so it turns into a selfish act for selfish purposes.  So what are the symptoms of this attitude?  Just as we get physical symptoms when something is wrong with our bodies these are the symptoms that something is wrong with our walk with God.  These are symptoms of the root cause of selfishness that we might have when we are slip sliding away.

!)  Do not seek God

2) Don’t spend time with God

3) Don’t do things in the right order

4) God is not part of our thought process

5) We make decisions impulsively

6) We walk by sight and not by faith

7) We don’t screen our thoughts and assume things

8) Our light comes from many windows

9) We don’t have any accountability for what we do

10) We lose our respect or regard for God anymore

11) We start only thinking of ourselves

12) We don’t ponder the path of our feet

13) We don’t acknowledge God

14) We don’t seek instruction, direction, knowledge, or wisdom

15) We only pray for God to approve our agenda

16) We don’t yield to the Holy Spirit

17) We come to the place of living only to please ourselves

I could go into detail on each of these warning signals but let me concentrate on 15 and 16.  Do we have a daily schedule that can’t be broken? What if the Holy Spirit tells us to change it? Would we be willing? With God in control of our lives his agenda is far more important than ours. My pastor went to a restaurant and the waiter was very excited about a menu item they should try.  He was so excited about it that it was ordered.  It turned out to be such a disappointment because the food didn’t live up to his excitement.  The waiter should have been focused more on what his customers wanted.  He was there to serve not to push his agenda.  That is the way it is in our relationship with God.  Our prayers to God should be what can I do for you Lord? It shouldn’t be what can you do for me?

I picture this slip sliding away theme of us climbing a steep slippery mountain.  Jesus has reached his long arm out and he is pulling us up.  As long as we keep our grip in his hand we move up to our eventual destination.  Satan starts showing us other things to distract and cause us to reduce our grip on Jesus hand and reach for things around us.  Eventually if we seek the things around us we loosen our grip and start a slow slide backwards.  Jesus arm is long and even when this occurs we can reconnect with him.  The decision is ours and ours alone.

The last verse in Simon’s song is my favorite.
God only knows, God makes his plan
The information’s unavailable to the mortal man
We’re working our jobs, collecting our pay
Believe we’re gliding down the highway, when in fact we’re slip sliding away

Since God knows our future and everything that will happen and has a plan for our lives, doesn’t it make sense to keep that grip firmly in his hand? There is a lyric in Simon’s chorus that is totally wrong with God. He states “The nearer your destination the more your slip sliding away.” With God when we learn to walk with him the nearer our destination the more we grip onto his hand. The more peace we have with the end goal and the more we embrace the reality of his love. Let us hang on for dear life with a strong grip in Jesus hand and we will not be slip sliding away!

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