How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
My eldest son, Paul, has provided many opportunities for me to express ardent gratitude to my heavenly Father. Paul was born with Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus. He is wheelchair bound and continues to have medical complications. He had had over 40 surgeries by the time he was thirty-five years old. I have often been tempted to think, “If God understood what I understand, He would have healed my son long ago.” But, I know God understands the whole picture, the eternal picture. He doesn’t just understand what I understand. He understands far more.
God has repeatedly spoken to my wife and me through His word, beginning right after Paul was born. He has said to us what He said to Moses so long ago when Moses complained to God of his speech impediment: “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Exodus 4:11)
When we run into difficult situations, some of us want to blame the devil. We ask God to please come, fix things, and make us comfortable again. The apostle Paul cried out to the Lord on three occasions asking Him to remove his “thorn in the flesh.” God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I don’t like being weak; I like being strong. Yet, God often has to put us in a position where we can’t, but He can. God proves Himself faithful over and over and over again as we see His grace in the midst of life’s storms. After the storm we say, “Praise the Lord. I’m glad that’s over with.” But, there will always be more testing, more difficulty, and more challenges until we arrive in heaven.
My son Paul continues to provide challenges in our prayer life. While he is far more independent than we were led to believe would ever be possible, the independence itself makes us more dependent on God as we pray for Paul’s safety.
Once, while we were awaiting Paul’s arrival from college, he called on his cell phone, “Dad, I’m on Interstate 40.”
I responded, “Great Son, we’re looking forward to having you home.”
Paul said, “Not so great.”
I asked, “What’s the matter?”
“Well, I don’t think the car is going to be salvageable.”
My heart sank as I realized, “You’ve been in a wreck. Are you all right?”
“I lost control of the car.”
We later discovered that the brakes on Paul’s hand controls locked up. Because Paul must steer with only one hand in order to use hand controls, it was difficult for him to maintain control of the car at interstate speed when the brakes locked up. He skidded across the right lane, across the shoulder, into a ditch, where the car rolled over several times and caught fire shortly after.
Two men stopped immediately after the wreck and removed Paul from the car before it caught fire. They got his wheelchair out of the back seat and assembled it.
Paul must break his wheelchair down into four parts before carefully placing it behind him in the back seat. Most of Paul’s family and friends who have helped him do this still find assembling his wheelchair difficult. These men not only assembled the chair and placed Paul in it while the car was smoldering, but they also found his glasses on the floorboard, put the glasses on Paul’s face and moved him to the shoulder of the interstate to await the ambulance.
Paul told us later, “It was as if they knew I couldn’t get out of the car by myself. I must have been in shock. They just pulled the wheelchair out of the backseat, put the wheels and seatback on the chair and got me out before the car caught fire. They even found my glasses on the floorboard.”
These two men didn’t give their names, and Paul was the only one who remembered they had been there to help him. God spared Paul’s life and sent what we believe to be angels to rescue him.
The photos we took of Paul’s car in the wrecking yard still give us chills. The dashboard, seats and steering wheel had melted. No one seeing that car would expect the driver to have survived. I continue to thank God for sparing my son’s life.
When I see God at work in situations like this, it is easy for me to offer adoration and thanksgiving. Events like this provide opportunities to increase my awareness of how much I have to be thankful for.