My Story Is HIStory

11 years old, sitting in my
wheelchair - Picture taken at Goderich,
Ontario
3rd year University, 22 years old. Competing varsity track and field for
York University - Picture taken at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec




"Some people will not look up until they are flat on their backs" - Walter Martin


It is interesting to observe when people go into the place of crisis how we gain perspective on life. We can cherish our friends and family everyday in a place of love. But when faced with a situation where we end up in an emergency room, when we're waiting in the critical care unit, that sense of cherishing, that feeling of love is felt greater by the situation at hand. Not because anything has changed per-say, but, because our perspectives have changed. We understand the incredible gifts that life, health, and the comfort of stability are in those moments. Our scene has changed, and therefore, our perspectives along with it.

Until we lose something we don't often appreciate what we have. It is only in the place of loss and distress that we declare truly how amazing the small things in life are. This is where the discipline of remembrance, of reflection, of the goodness and greatness of God enters into our lives. We shouldn't have to wait till we lose things in order to appreciate them. Through the discipline of thanksgiving and praise, in worship to God we can see and gain perspective on our lives and understand that we are people of grace, created in the image of the Almighty.

This should radically impact how we live day-to-day. The action of remembering God's kindness creates a context, I would argue, in which we are humbled to a point where we are ready to receive the ongoing and unfailing kindness of God. God can give us more as we recognize His goodness and greatness, and as we humble ourselves we open up our lives to receive more and more grace from Him.

My story begins on January 8th, 2002 . I had the flu, the norwalk virus that was going around at that time, and was spending the day on the bathroom floor beside the toilet (for obvious reasons). I remember falling asleep on a small round carpet that we had in front of the bathtub for easy access in case my stomach wanted me to wake up to loose my cookies periodically.

I don't remember much before falling asleep but I remember waking up and having the odd feeling of being cut in half. No pain, no tingling, simply nothing at all. I could see my legs on the ground and I could see that they were attached to me, but it was as if they belonged to someone else.  I wanted to run out of the room, the sensation being so alien and strange. The only problem being I couldn't, I wasn't even able to stand. After a number of attempts to get my brain to move my legs or somehow revive circulation into them (thinking at first that they were somehow asleep) I called for my parents.

This is where my memory gets foggy. I remember my parents calling telle-health (a public health-care phone line here in Ontario, Canada), and I remember being asked to move my toes and to try and stand up on my own, neither of which were possible. When looking back, this process seemed like a long time but in reality it was probably not as long as I remember, because shortly after all this an ambulance arrived and took me to the local hospital.

The local hospital didn't seem to have the right equipment or specialists to properly diagnose and treat what was happening to my body so I was put back into an ambulance and rushed from Goderich, where we lived at the time, to a more equipped hospital in London, Ontario. This I do remember quite well, my mom was in the ambulance with me and I think I might have been in shock. I remember being oddly calm for an 11 year old who's body was going through the process of being paralyzed.

Shortly after arriving at the hospital in London, I was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis, a rare neurological condition causing inflammation on the nerves of the spinal cord. This condition left me paralyzed from the waist down for what I was told could very well be the rest of my life.

At this moment I don't want to go into detail about the entire story, that I'll do at a later date. For the moment I want to focus on is the fact that to this day I am not paralyzed when I was told that I very well could have been for the rest of my life. In fact, it was one month to the day (February 8 - January 8) when I got out of bed, walked over to my wheelchair, and sat down. Staring at the wall for a good few minutes trying to figure out what I had done differently that morning than the last.

As mentioned previously, our human view of certain circumstances is often rather limited. We as humans look through the keyhole of life, us on humanity's side of the door and God on the side of infinity. We look through the tiny key-hole that only allows us to see a tiny fraction of what the room on the other side looks like and often very matter-of-factly, tell God that we don’t like what the room looks like on the other side.

We see only a speck, a minute percentage that reveals our lives in the present and cry out to God  in the place of misunderstanding and hurt. Letting God know that from the tiny portion that we are privy too, that the room isn’t the way it should be. During all this, God sits on the other side the room far more vast than we can ever imagine, trying to reminding us to wait, that He has a plan, and that the room is in fact fare more wonderful than our understanding can grasp.

We shouldn't have to wait till we are in a situation of weakness in order to appreciate God's position of strength. Through the discipline of thanksgiving and praise, in worship to God we can see and gain perspective on our lives and understand that we are people of grace, children of our Creator.

As I stated before, this should radically impact how we live day-to-day. The action of remembering God's kindness creates a context, I would argue, in which we are humbled to a point where we are ready to receive the ongoing and unfailing kindness of God. God can give us more as we recognize His goodness and greatness and as we humble ourselves we open up our lives to receive more and more grace from Him.

This is something I need to remind myself on a daily basis. I don't claim in any way to have mastered this or live above it. I am far too often in that place of weakness, at a point of hurt, and a position of despair. For this reason it is important for me to make sure you know that even though it may not seem like it, there is a plan. We may not understand it, but we can be reassured that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

C.S. Lewis put this pointedly when he stated that, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains.

I share this aspect of my life to shed a picture, both as a reminder to myself, and an encouragement to others, as to why I am thankful. Why my life looks like it does today. While of course there are many factors that impact why I am the man I am today, one of them definitely has to do with my paralysis. Why I am so passionate about the sport of track and field, why I love to study and share my thoughts on theology and apologetics.

God has a plan even though we may not see it. God has an understanding that is far greater than our own. Like a child complaining on a long car ride home, “Are we there yet!” We don’t always have the capacity to understand the journey that lies ahead. We need to understand that in times of hardship there is nothing more needed than simply anchoring ourselves to the cross of Christ and trusting wholeheartedly in the midst of our pain.

While being easier said than done, the essence of faith is that we trust in one that has the capacity to understand, that has eyes to be our guide on a road that we cannot see the path fully, that has a voice that’s louder than our own.

It is safer to be in the middle of the storm with God, than in the calm without Him.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. you will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." -Jeremiah 29:11-13


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