For most of my life, I lived with limited vision. Although I had surgery to correct my eyesight, I still am not skilled in noticing the fine details of a person’s face. Combine this with several of my younger friends regularly changing their hair color, length and texture and a problem arises! One week, a friend’s hair might be blue and short; the next, it’s been transformed to long and blonde. A lip pierced one week might be free of such ornamentation the following week. As a result, I have had apparent strangers attempt to hug me as a way of greeting. It is only as I recognize their voice that I allow them close.
I readily attest to Paul’s declaration, in 1 Corinthians 13, that we see through a glass darkly. I have limited spiritual vision. I will never be able to fit all the pieces in the puzzle on my own. As soon as I become overly dependent on a certain method in hearing God’s voice, He shuffles the deck. He’ll bring the answer through a quiet conversation with an old woman on the bus or the cashier at my local supermarket. Some times, the answer comes via a truth spoken from the pulpit. Other times, it’s as simple as an inner nudge. The remedy for a besetting sin in my life has appeared through a right word spoken at the right time by a dear friend or through the bitter consequences of repeated disobedience. Of course, every answer is weighed against God’s ultimate revelation, his written word.
If I rely on a specific method as the only way God reveals himself to me, I am in danger of placing my trust on a method and not on the Lord. My shepherd wants me to recognize His voice above all others. As my shepherd, he trains me to recognize his presence by taking me out of my comfort zone. In the same way that a military instructor trains his soldiers to heighten their other four senses by obscuring their vision, God sometimes withholds my favourite go-to way of hearing his voice in order that I learn to strengthen my other spiritual senses.
How are you training yourself to recognize His voice and to know His ways? Train your ear to discern his voice through the study of His Word. Train your spiritual eyes to recognize his face and his ways through spending copious amounts of time alone with Him in worship and quietness. Attune your inner ear to hear his still small voice as you go about your daily routine by committing yourself to be instantly obedient to whatever that still small voice may ask of you at any given moment of your day. In all your ways, acknowledge him. Make him a deliberate part of your day.
John 10:27 ESV
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Your shepherd walks with you, always directing, always leading, always ready to speak into your life. As you train your senses, you will become more aware of his presence.
Until next week,
© 2013 Katherine Walden
Please forgive the vernacular and slang used in today’s thoughts. I found I couldn’t express my point in my usual devotional style.
Read: I Kings 12
The Fall And Division Of The Nation Of Israel.
I have read this story before, several times I am sure. However, as I read it once again, a singular thought came to my mind.
DUH!! People are so stupid.
DUH!! Really? Rehoboam, let me get this straight. You’re saying that your good old boys network made up of your high school buddies knows more about boring stuff like running a kingdom than all the trusted advisors of the greatest empire of all times? The people are complaining about unfair work practices, and you decide the best way to deal with employee dissatisfaction is to make them work harder and take away more of their rights. You do so just to ensure you and your buddies may continue to live in the lap of luxury? You must have missed the “Let my people go” story that your teachers probably tried to drill into your skull because you were too busy making spit-balls in class. How did that decision work for you? I bet you didn’t have a lot of employees signing up for a new contract.
How does that work for any leader? Not well.
By one stupid, arrogant, self-serving decision, this entitlement-dependent young man destroyed all his grandfather and father had carefully architected.
Jeroboam, you aren’t exactly on the “The Top Ten Up and Coming Kings List” of your century, either.
You want your people to love you and hail you as king. As a result, you build two golden calves, then you cleverly invent a holiday so your people can worship those idols at home rather than traveling to one place where they can meet with the one true God. Furthermore, you are only doing so because you are afraid that when they get close to the place the one true God dwells, they might come to their senses and return to him.
I guess you didn’t learn from the fallout from the sin of your ancestor, Aaron. Remember what happened when he built a golden calf to keep the people happy-happy while Moses was up the mountain talking to God? And how did your decision to be the ultimate people pleasing, rock-star King work out for you in the long run?
And yet, I have no right to say, “Boy, those Israelites were so stupid back then, good thing we aren’t that dumb today.” No, I’ve seen ministries and nations crumble under the same delusions and deceptions. If the truth be told, I’ve seen strands of the same behaviour in me.
Psalm 51:10 ESV
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
Sometimes, when I am out and about on my power chair, I notice that well-meaning able-bodied people are confused as to how to help and when to help me. I applaud your willingness to help and encourage you to keep on being helpful!
Here are some ideas that might help you help those who are in wheelchairs to feel as respected as anyone else who comes across your path on a daily basis.
1. Door opening.
If you are on the opposite side of the door, that is; you are inside, and the wheelchair user is outside, motion to the person, asking if they would like your help. If they indicate yes, move through the door to their side of the door, then step behind the door and pull it toward you. The wheelchair user now has plenty of space to pass through the door without risk of running over your toes. NEVER reach over the threshold and swing the door open, while expecting the wheelchair user to drive under your outstretched arm. Not only is this dangerous for both of you but is is an invasion of the wheelchair user’s personal space.
Believe the wheelchair user. They know their abilities and weaknesses much better than you do. If they decline your help and say “I got it, thanks”, take that statement at face value. If you step in to help them as they are midway through the door, you could actually make things worse. I once had to choose between a person’s toes and a window. I broke the window. People said I should have run over the guy’s toes, but he was only trying to help.
2. Cars VS Wheelchairs
Wheelchair users are pedestrians. This includes Power chairs, scooters and manual wheelchairs. In North America, pedestrians usually have the right of way. However, wise wheelchair users are cautious due to too many near misses. They will try to make eye contact with you before proceeding at unmarked crosswalks. No, they aren’t nervous or slow.
Wheelchair users must use the cut away curbs and sloped corners at intersections. Please don’t block the curb when you are trying to turn right into traffic, and then honk your horn at the wheelchair users when they don’t cross in front of you. A wise wheelchair user will not begin to cross an intersection if they cannot see that the opposite curb is not blocked.
When turning right or left, look to the right AND the left to make sure that a pedestrian isn’t trying to cross the street in front of you. It seems like common sense, but I have had more than one close call when a driver has driven right across a sidewalk from an alleyway without first checking for pedestrian traffic. Powered wheelchairs and scooters cannot stop on a dime, just like a car cannot stop on a dime.
2. Personal space.
Never lean against a wheelchair, reach over a wheelchair or touch the joystick of a wheelchair without first asking permission. Most wheelchair users look at their wheelchairs as an extension of their bodies. If you wouldn’t casually clamp on to a stranger’s shoulder when you talk with them, you shouldn’t hold the arm of a wheelchair when talking with a wheelchair user.
If an able-boded person and disabled person are travelling together, do not assume the able-bodied person is the official spokesperson for the disabled person. If you are serving the pair in a store or cafe, directly address the disabled person, in the same way you would address their companion. If they are unable to talk, and they do not use a talking board or other communication device attached to their wheelchair, only then look to their companion for help.
Ask the wheelchair user where it would be best to place their drink and plate. If you are a salesclerk, ask the wheelchair user where they would like you to place their shopping bags. Most chair users have a bag strapped on the back of their chair. If your customer/client had a hard time pulling out their charge card or debit card, they probably will have a hard time placing that card back in their wallet. The same goes with cash. Please be patient with the transaction. It saves you the hassle of having to come around and pick up the spilled change or card.
When engaged in an extended conversation with someone in a wheelchair, pull up a chair unless you are trying to make a statement that you have more power in the conversational dynamic. You will both be more comfortable. If you choose to crouch beside their chair, ask permission first before using the arm of their wheelchair to steady yourself. Remember, their chair is considered part of their personal space.
Adults are adults, whether they are able bodied or disabled. Unless you would use these terms when addressing able bodied people, don’t use them when addressing a disabled person: dear, honey, sweetie, etc.
Do you have other tips? Let me know!
Mark 12: 42- 44 ESV:
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
As a child, I gave my mother a beautiful bouquet of bright yellow flowers every year. Every year, she would put them in a little glass by the kitchen sink. “So I can look at them when I’m washing dishes.” She’d say. With a sense of pride, I would watch her arrange them in an old glass set aside for such bouquets and head off my way, happy to see the smile on my mother’s face.
Across North America, countless mothers receive similar bouquets of weeds from their preschoolers. The bright, sunny petals are a delight to any child’s eye. Although the sight of a yard full of dandelions is dismaying to most adults, the same yard is a never-ending supply of riches to a child. Most mothers find as much joy in a drooping bouquet made up of flowering weeds carried in the clutched fist of their toddler as a dozen roses delivered by the local flower shop.
So it is with our Heavenly Father. Are you reticent to present a gift to God or one of his children because you consider it unworthy or inferior? Have you held back from placing your offering at his feet because you compare your gift to the gifts that others have already laid there? Have you stopped short of responding to a call for assistance, even as your heart pounded and you were sure you pastor was looking right at you when he asked for volunteers for a church project? Have you kept your tongue when the Holy Spirit prompted you to share with another believer, out of the fear of messing things up?
Step out and watch how the Lord works through the weak and the lowly. He loves to take the gifts we give him, empowering us with His strength, and transforming our gift with His light. All the Lord asks of us is that we give him our hearts, walk in obedience and trust. He will never reject a gift given to him from a child-like heart.
Until Next Week,
© 2013 Katherine Walden