Posted by: karanoel | February 27, 2014

TV, Coffee & Tears

ImageMost Saturday mornings involve a long walk to breakfast, but Madison needed some catch-up sleep so we decided on a lazy morning instead. John and I sipped coffee on the sofa while Chase ran around the family room in his jammies. We flipped through some mindless TV shows before landing on one that caught our attention – the story of a family whose first child, Johnny, developed cerebral palsy due to a lack of oxygen during his premature birth.

We saw a home video of Johnny’s dad giving his infant son a toy baseball bat, and listened to his mother’s teary remembrance of fears that this athlete father wouldn’t be able to bond with a severely disabled child. But there was so much love in the father’s heart for his son. It was evident in those early videos as he gently cradled his boy and proudly held him up for the camera, and in later interviews as he spoke of him with deep affection and appreciation. Johnny, now 19, clearly responded to the love that was so evident in endless years of selfless giving. He glowed in the presence of his dad. And they did bond – over sports, in fact – as the impassioned cheers of father and son rose from the sidelines, Johnny’s body shaking with excitement in his wheelchair.

Eventually the father, a former baseball player, took to triathlons to include his son in the action; towing him behind as they biked and swam, and pushing him forward as they ran to the finish line. The pleasure on Johnny’s face was unmistakable as he shouted words of encouragement through each race and reveled in his dad’s athleticism. It was beautiful to behold his heart so engaged where his body couldn’t be. And possibly more so to behold the pleasure of a father laying down his life for the joy of his son.

In response to his father’s kindness, Johnny wanted to give something back. His gift was to run his own race; a marathon, he called it. It may as well have been. A mile in such a crippled body seemed nearly insurmountable. Race day came. After being pushed the first two miles by his dad (while chanting “Faster dad! Give me a good lead!”), he was set in front of a walker fitted with a bar that ran between his legs. He started moving at a snail’s pace. One leg bowed out and jutted forward before hitting the bar, dragging a crooked foot along the pavement, and starting the strained motion again. It was an awkward, almost pained gait. His dad walked slowly beside, offering the encouragement he had so often been given.

After what seemed an eternity, Johnny was still only part way through his race. All the other runners – and walkers – had finished long before. There was a relatively great distance yet to be covered. But he trudged on, pushing his resistant body as sweat dripped down his temples. It seemed well-intentioned but impossible. My heart broke. But this remarkable teenager summoned a strength that trumped his limitations and he finished his marathon.

To say he was excited would be a gross understatement. It was more like ecstasy. With his head leaned back and hands curled up in front of his chest, he declared with unrestrained joy that he was finally an athlete. In giving back to his dad, he had become like him. It was his greatest desire.

I balled my eyes out. It all felt so real to me. I too want to be like my Father – to love people like He does, so deep and wide and true. And I too have been commanded to stay seated on the sidelines by my handicaps; those of the soul rather than the body… fear, selfishness, defeat. But, like Johnny, it has been in the intersection of my weakness and desire that I have bonded with my Dad. He has cared for me in my weakness, and sat alongside me watching life and cheering for those fully engaged in it.  He has gone beyond that by taking me out in the midst of it, letting me revel in the glory of his strength, thrilling me with the joy of surrender. It is now my great pleasure to show my gratitude for His kindness by following in His footsteps; to love others like I’ve been loved and lay down my life for them. Like Johnny, it is slow and awkward and, frankly, looks impossible, but I know my Dad is with me all the way. And as I step into this Love – no matter how falteringly – I can declare with unrestrained joy that I am like my Father.

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-14


Responses

  1. There’s great insight in your story, Kara–and inspiration! Thank you for sharing!

    Blessings,
    Hal

    • Thanks Hal! I appreciate the feedback. Hope you guys are doing well!

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

  2. So beautifully written dear one………….thank you!

    • Thank you!

      Sent from my iPhone

      >


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