Garland Of Grace – 02.19.17

01-1978-eric

My Weak Left Held in God’s Righteous Right

Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other.” -Matthew 12:13

When I was born, there were unexpected complications in the delivery process which led to severe nerve damage on my left side of my body. Because of this, I do not have as much feeling in my left limbs as I do my right limbs.  Nor do I have the control on my left side as I do on my right side.  There are many things that I am not able to do with my left hand that others are able to do, and my left leg has a slight limp. I would like to share with you a few life truths that I have learned from this particular part of my life story.

To begin with, God never makes mistakes.  Birth defects, no matter how minor or severe they may be, are simply part of God’s encompassing plan for particular people.  Who are we to be upset at God pertaining to such matters? Only God grants human life in the first place, and He sovereignly does as He pleases (Psalm 115:3). God was there when I was born, and He lovingly permitted what He could have easily prevented.

God has also used my left side as a teaching tool to keep me humble and dependent upon Him.  He is my source of strength, and His good and faithful hands hold me up each day.  And my prayer is that my limp would simply serve as God’s gracious mark upon my life, just as He dealt with Jacob (Genesis 32:32).

It also serves as a reminder to me that all things are possible in God’s strength. One of the Old Testament Judges of Israel, a man by the name of Ehud, single handedly (no pun intended) delivered God’s people from the clutches of an evil king named Eglon, and did so with a crippled hand (Judges 3).

Has my nerve damage really prevented me from doing things?  Well let’s see; I can’t button shirts with my left hand; I can’t turn the pages of a book with my left hand; I do not care for drive-thru windows because it gets somewhat awkward.  Shaking hands with my left hand is even tough. But who am I to complain about such trivial matters. Some people do not have arms and legs. Some people are paralyzed and have no movement in their limbs. From that perspective, does it really matter that one of my arms and one of my legs is a little difficult to use at times?  It would be sinful for me to be that shallow.

Sometimes I even forget about the problem with my left side. I guess that can happen when you live with something all your life.  There have actually been times when people have curiously asked me about my limp or my left hand, and I had forgotten about it. To me, this is a good thing.  It means that I am not dwelling on my physical flaws, and that I am content with what the Lord has determined for my life.

Some have suggested that my left side is a physical impairment that I will just have to learn to live with, as if they are some expert on what it feels like to be me.  But it really has not been something that I have had to learn to live with. “Learning to live” with something suggests prior knowledge of a time when things were different. Yet this is all I have ever known. I do live with it, but I have never had to “learn” to live with it.

I believe God is good in all circumstances. And in His divine goodness, He chose to give me this physical hindrance. I like to imagine that of all the babies born at the Methodist Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee on September 24, 1976, He chose to bless me with nerve damage.  And for that, I am forever grateful.

In heaven, my hand and foot will function properly. And one of the people I plan to meet up with in heaven is the man in our text above; the man with the withered hand Jesus healed on the Sabbath. I want to shake his formerly withered hand with my left hand, and then talk about Jesus.

Pastor Eric

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