Wisdom knows when you can’t do what you’ve done—You still are who you are.
In the past I’ve asked myself some seemingly strange questions. When I first contemplated the decision to follow Jesus I asked myself, “Self: Would you be willing to move to Africa if God asked you to? Would you stand up for Jesus if someone put a gun to your head and told you to disown him?” I don’t know why I rehearsed these seemingly unlikely scenarios in my mind, as I now realize it’s more often the less spectacular and daily decisions we must make in order to follow Jesus.
As crazy as it may seem—we actually were asked to move to Africa. We not only agreed to go, but had already begun preparing when the needs of the church there suddenly changed and we were instead asked to stay in Boston. I never did have a gun put to my head, but I did have a knife put to my back as I then declared my devotion to Jesus. For real. But that’s another story for another time. Another question I have asked myself is, “Would you still have something to give if the things you valued were taken?” This is a hard question, but my husband answers this question well with his life.
Though invaluable is the wisdom I have already gained from Wyndham, he is still teaching me as I watch him daily live out the answer to the question—What would I have, or who would I be, if things I valued were taken away.
Life has changed drastically over the last year or two for Wyndham (and for me). How he loved to throw a football, hit a baseball, walk in the woods with his dog, and catch a big fish—or any fish. (He just loved to be out on the water.) He loved to travel to help strengthen churches and loved to preach and teach. He felt useful as we counseled many a couple on marriage and/or parenting. He led an amazing team of elders and was consulted on all kinds of difficult situations. Now, he does none of these things. He can’t throw a ball, stand or walk at all, fish, get in a boat, travel, preach, or teach. His energy only allows for minimal involvement in conversations that are “deep waters.” In fact, he can’t turn over in bed, transfer himself from wheelchair to anywhere, get dressed, or sit without support. Fatigue is his constant companion, and his voice is often not strong enough to communicate clearly.
Too often we gain our confidence, satisfaction, and value according to what we are able to do. As we meet people, a common question asked is “What do you do?” Depending on what you “do,” your answer may bring you either encouragement or discouragement. We so easily place our value in our abilities, expertise, or our roles that if/when any of these things change our contentment and joy come crashing down with the change. On the contrary, when our deepest foundation is built on Jesus and his words—we will never be disappointed.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-24)
Wyndham, as a wise man, has built his foundation on this rock. Though the proverbial wind is howling and the streams are rising and beating against his body, nothing drowns his joy and his confidence in who he is in Christ. No disease can take away his salvation or his purpose. Nothing can steal his joy as he loves his family and is loved by them. No “thing” can keep him from caring and praying about those he loves. Though he can no longer do the things he once did, his love for God and for people keeps him happy and giving. His knowledge of his salvation and of God’s undying love for him keeps him hopeful. His eyes focused on Jesus’ example keeps him courageous. As we often pray and “take in” the love we share for each other and our family, his eyes always fill with tears because of his indescribable gratitude for what God has done for him, and for us.
No situation in life can change who we are in Christ, or can take away the gifts God has lavished on us—unless we let them. Wisdom knows that when we can no longer do what we have done, we remain who we are in Christ. Nothing, and no one, can take this away from us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)