Happy summer everybody! It’s good to be back on the blog once again, and to be back at home with my family over break. It’s difficult to realize how much your college experience becomes like another, almost completely separate life; that is, until you come home and realize how much time you have on your hands! Given that I’ve had a chance to put down the books and lay all the papers to rest for a while, it seemed like high time I should write again. It definitely feels good to have time to write for pleasure!
I’ve been thinking about a paradox that seems very prevalent at this time in my life. On the one hand, these are probably some of my most exciting years. I’m thoroughly enjoying college, expanding my mind and heart in new directions, deepening my relationship with God, and meeting all kinds of new people. This is a time very oriented towards the future, and filled with great promise. In one sense, “the sky’s the limit” as far as where God could call me. It’s also, however, a time of great uncertainty, which is why I’ve been wrestling with the issue of trusting God.
You would think, after having gone through all the surgeries, therapies, the physical as well as the emotional trials of living with cerebral palsy, trusting in God would come pretty naturally to me. After all, He’s brought me through many things most people would never have to deal with. But there are pitfalls and dangers here, too. In my situation, I think it becomes easy to trust God in the midst of extraordinary things like these. I’ve spent my whole life learning that God will enable me to overcome the more obvious obstacles associated with my disability. When it comes to more normal, everyday trials, trusting in God can become just as difficult for me as for anyone else. It is these normal, “common to man” trials and uncertainties that are looming large in my view right now, and sometimes living with a disability can make their temptations all the more insidious.
I don’t know with certainty whether I’ll be able to find a good job after I graduate. I don’t know with certainty what God has planned for my brother and sister, now that their both getting closer and closer to graduating high school and moving on to independent lives of their own. I don’t know whether my Dad’s ministry will take off the way we are praying it will. But I think the clearest illustration of my struggles with trust involve the issue of dating/courtship.
Away at college at the age of 19, friends’ entering into serious relationships is an in-your-face issue. Granted we’re still young, but fewer and fewer have not been in some kind of relationship. Especially at a Christian college, where the courtship ideal has become so influential, many are beginning to think seriously about marriage, even if it’s still several years in the future. Over these last two semesters I even witnessed a few “bobtisms,” our school’s ritual of dunking newly engaged men in the campus lake. Regardless of our own situations, this is an issue we simply have to deal with.
Enter my struggles with uncertainty. The fact is, especially given my disability, I struggle with not knowing God’s plan for me regarding the minefield of romantic relationships. I’m a young man like all other young men, with the same God given hopes and desires. But, like others, I also deal with fear and doubt, too often exacerbated by my CP. As Christian men, we’ve had it impressed upon us that good-hearted, God honoring young ladies want a knight in shining armor. They want a man who will serve as their protector, provider, and leader. I often wonder, given my physical challenges, how I will ever be able to fill these roles. As I once told a friend, I wouldn’t exactly be able to wrestle a bear into submission if my wife and I were attacked in the woods. I will probably need more physical help from my future wife than she will ever need from me. Faced with these realities, I often wonder what God expects “masculinity” to look like from someone in my situation.
Important issues like these often command a lot of my focus. They also leave me struggling with a lot of fear. But it is exactly this narrow perspective that the Enemy wants to trap me in. These situations present challenges, but are they really more terrible than the challenges God has already brought me through. My very survival on this Earth is a miracle. God has preserved my life against the odds from the day I was born two months premature. Is it really even rational to assume he won’t bring me through these challenges as well. I don’t have all the answers, nor do I see all of God’s plan. But if the Bible says “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me,” doesn’t that include the common, everyday things? God’s ways are not my ways, and His plan may look entirely different from what I expect. He, however, has good plans for me. Whatever they are, they are better than I can imagine. He will give me the strength to finish the race.