A few weeks back, I came across a story about a young lady by the name of Wendy Stoker. Wendy was a tenaciously determined young lady, who had amassed a fairly impressive list of accomplishments before her 20th birthday. In High School, Wendy worked hard, putting in many hours each week. The fruit of her labor was placing third in the Iowa state diving championship. Her effort did not go unnoticed, as she received an athletic scholarship to the University of Florida.
While at the university, she worked even harder and was able to secure the number 2 spot on her college’s diving team. Wendy, a good student, was able to do this while carrying a full academic load. She even spent time enjoying her favorite hobbies… She was a proficient bowler and water skier. While this list of accomplishments is indeed impressive, it pales in comparison to Wendy’s greatest feat. Wendy’s most impressive skill was/is her ability to type 45 words per minute. Oh, I guess I failed to mention that Wendy does not have any arms. She types 45 words per minute with her toes.
What is my greatest handicap? What is your greatest handicap? More than that, how can we best define what it means to be handicapped? How do we define what it means to be fully functional and capable? Because, if we are going to use results as a litmus test, there are a lot of fully functional and capable people in this world who are much more handicapped than Wendy Stoker. She is an example of a young lady, who would not let her limitations define her…she would not allow her ‘handicap’ to hamstring her. Excuses and pity parties effectively impede forward progress. Wendy’s story is one among many, that inspires us to make the best of what we do have, instead of mourning what we don’t. Wendy’s story is a personification of God’s exhortation to us in Galatians 5:16 to “redeem the time for the days are evil.”
For most of us, our greatest limitation is not some kind of physical impairment…It is wrongly formed thought patterns. For many of us, our greatest handicap is the way we think. Proverbs 23:7 reads- “as a man thinks…so he is.” How we think, is going to directly speak to, the way we act, react and respond. It is possible for two people to come to two entirely different conclusions about a circumstance, even while looking at the same specifics and/or facts. It all depends on, through which perspective the information is processed.
As people of God, we have a fundamental responsibility to change the default switch in our brains. Matthew 4:4 says- “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. It is God’s word that renews the way we think…it is God’s word that changes the template in our brain through which we process information. Very simply, for our sake and the sake of those we influence, we must focus on what is right with God, rather than what is wrong with us. And really, isn’t that what faith is anyway? People coming to terms with our own corruptibility and fallibility and placing our trust alone in God’s person…His incorruptibility and infallibility?
In Luke 11:28 Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” We will never overcome our handicap if our thought processes are culturally informed rather than Biblically Informed.
The right way of thinking involves a concept that does not come to easy to any of us…surrender. In the Gospel of John, Jesus addressed a group of religious leaders…These men were professed representatives of the one true God, yet they doubted Jesus and ultimately ended up in opposition to God’s plan. In John 7:17 Jesus said to them-“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, He will know that my teaching is from God.”
If we want to think the right way…it involves surrender…we must surrender to God’s will. We must surrender to living for the sake of God’s kingdom principles and not for our own self actualization or self fulfillment. If we do not surrender to God’s will, we will doubt His word…The result? We will lean into our own understanding, influencing ourselves and others to think the wrong way…and ultimately go the wrong way…down the road of consequences, rather than the path of blessing.