Sunday while visiting my mom in the hospital, I turned on the television to see if I could find something she would enjoy—a Sunday message that might encourage us both.
I found a Gaither Homecoming celebration. Mom always enjoys watching those gatherings of older, joyful saints singing traditional hymns and praise songs. A man, David Ring, with cerebral palsy was talking about heaven.
As he spoke, he struggled to form each sentence. He was humorous and full of joy. You could tell he ached to be more fluid with his speech. Yet he stood as he was, boldly testifying with his tongue-tying impediment.
“When I think about heaven, I get excited,” he forced the words from his lips. “Don’t feel sorry for me, I got joy comin’ in the morning.”
“When I get to heaven, I’m not gonna walk with a limp or talk funny anymore. I’m gonna walk and talk like Jesus.”
“If you don’t like the way I am now, hang in there. I’m still in the oven. God’s still in the kitchen. God’s still cookin’ on me. And when God gets finished, He’s gonna pull me out of the oven and say, ‘Well done…my good and faithful servant…’”
There was laughter and a pause.
“When I get to heaven, I can tie my own shoes and button my own shirt…what a glorious day that will be.”
Then he began singing. I held my mom’s hand and joined him.
There is coming a day, when no heart aches shall come, no more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye. All is peace forever more, on that happy golden shore. what a day, glorious day that will be.
What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see, and I look upon His face, the One who saved me by His grace; when He takes me by the hand, and leads me through the Promised Land. What a day, glorious day that will be.
There’ll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear, no more sickness, no pain, no more parting over there; and forever I will be, with the One who died for me. What a day, glorious day that will be.
Lyrics by Jim Hill
As I held her hand, the sentiments expressed in this song seemed so real. Mother had been gravely ill. We had wondered on Thursday if she was nearing death. So heaven had been close—seeing Jesus face to face had been an imminent possibility for her.
In this song, David Ring and the lyricist boasted in Christ and in the promises made to all who trust him. David, in talking and singing about the joys of heaven with his handicap, gloried in his weakness and in Christ, just like Paul the apostle. (II Cor. 12:9)
As he spoke, I saw the evidence of what Christ can do in a life. He can make the disappointments bearable, the impediments usable, the limp applicable.
We all have weaknesses—some sort of limp that hinders us—and helps us. I don’t think I would have worshipped as deeply that morning if this man hadn’t been handicapped. As it was, his testimony in his weakness drew the hope of heaven as well as for this life into sharper focus. For some reason, others see present and eternal hope more clearly when sufferers praise God in spite of the pain.
Too often, I focus on my limp and what it hinders me from doing instead of imagining what God can do with someone who hobbles. Races can still be completed, and we will continue to be equipped for the race set before us. God is in the business of helping us finish the course, so we can hear those words, “Well done.” (Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 13:20-21, II Timothy 4:6-8)
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. II Cor. 12:9-10 (NASB)