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I choose to stand

March 29, 2007

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15)

Someone recently asked me about why I have faith in God and when I have had to have the greatest faith. We live with faith every day as Christians, even if we don’t recognize it, but sometimes we need a greater helping to get through.

A time like that happened for me shortly after I became a Christian. I was 16 years old and was a part of my track and field team. It was a tough season for me with physical injuries. After several injuries and some specific feedback from my coach about what he saw in my competitions I went to the doctor for a more thorough exam. Over the next few months things got worse. By Fall my doctor, a sports medicine specialist, knew that there was something wrong but he couldn’t name it. I was in daily pain and nothing that we were trying was helping, in fact things were getting worse. He finally placed me on crutches, and advised me to “rest” my legs as much as possible. We tried that for a few weeks. Those weeks grew into months. I was spending my entire senior year of high school on crutches.

Finally in the spring the doctor decided to take a risk and perform surgery. He didn’t want to perform an unknown and unneeded surgery on someone so young but we were out of other options. As scared as I was, I hung onto hope that this surgery would finally give me relief. What the doctor found was shocking. He had been a doctor for a professional football team and had seen extensive joint and cartilage damage. The damage in my knees was worse than he had ever seen. I was rubbing bone on bone, my kneecap was held down on the joint with immense pressure, and the cartilage was completely shredded. He repaired the damage as best he could, and closed me up knowing that he was only treating the symptoms, not the cause. Even with that, my faith and hope turned into reality. By graduation day I was able to walk down the aisle and receive my diploma without crutches to guide me. Others celebrated their educational accomplishments and being free from the public school system. I celebrated my ability to stand, walk, and feel like a normal person.

Unfortunately because we had only treated the symptoms my problems returned. Over the next four years I was back on and off crutches, in and out of surgeries, and I spent countless hours in doctor’s offices and therapy appointments. My knees dislocated more than once because my muscles atrophied to the point my legs wouldn’t function normally. Even without crutches I walked with a significant limp, and my entire life seemed to revolve around what my legs could and could not do. I went through five more surgeries and had both of my knees surgically realigned. Even harder though was the price I paid socially, emotionally, and psychologically during that time. In many ways I lived as a handicapped person. I faced rejection from many people because of my inabilities, and often I could not participate in activities with others because of my physical limitations. I also was constantly faced with the struggle of whether there was any hope of my walking normally again. Many times I was faced with few options and little hope but I continued to believe in God and trust that he cared about me and all I was going through. I held onto hope that God had something else planned for my life. I believed he had created me for a purpose, and I trusted in a future I could not yet see.

By the time I graduated from college my legs were beginning to heal. It took several years before the strength really returned to them, and even today I still carry the scars of those surgeries and all I went through. When I look at the scars now though I am reminded of what my life could have been. God choose to heal me, and I know he doesn’t choose that for everyone. I may not have the knees that others around me share, but I don’t need additional equipment to help me stand and walk like I did at one time.

I had placed my trust in God, fully and completely. He showed me what it really meant to stand up for what you believe in. It has been many years, but even now it is with deep gratitude that I often stand in church and worship, knowing that my faith was the first gift I received from God and my ability to stand was just one of many, many more gifts. I didn’t know what the future held, I still don’t, but I have faith that as long as God is in the lead I am headed in the right direction. I choose to stand for him!

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

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