Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Gift of a Handicap

The Gift of a Handicap©

I walked out of my local grocery store, shifting my three bags of groceries, to distribute the weight evenly.  As I began my trek across the parking lot to the bus stop where I would catch the city bus, I suddenly felt the urge to walk to a different stop, further down the road. I had plenty of time; the weather was beautiful; and I would much rather walk than sit and wait.

Upon nearing the lot of a fast food restaurant, I noticed three rough-looking young men, with their pants hanging around their knees, standing around a car.  Normally, I would have cut through that lot but felt uneasy about doing so, due to the presence of these hoodlums.  I changed my course and took the sidewalk instead.  I was still in quite close proximity, as I passed them. However, a hedge of bushes separated us, giving me a sense of security.  I picked up my pace, trying to pass as quickly as possible, and was startled when one of them asked me if I had a dollar.  “No,” I answered, without missing a beat to my stride. 

No sooner had that word left my mouth than I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart, “You have a debit card. Go see what that young man needs.”

I am not one to argue with God but did need to make sure I was hearing from Him. So, in my polite inner voice, I asked if He was sure He wanted me to go back and admit to those three roughnecks—who looked like murderers or drug dealers—that I had a debit card in my possession and ask them what they needed.  God reassured me saying, “Yes…trust me.”

I paused to glance back at the men and noticed the one who had spoken to me was crossing the street with a gas can.  Perfect! I felt much better dealing with only one of them.  I raced quickly across the street—praying the entire time—then marched right up to him, asking him if he needed gas.  He nodded, hesitantly.  I told him I didn’t have a dollar but did carry plastic and would be happy to buy him some gasoline.  I inserted my card then had him fill his gas can.  I shared how people have blessed me, in the past, and it was my turn to bless him.  

I wished him a good day and we went our separate ways. I felt like skipping the entire two miles home…and probably would have, had I not been weighed down with three bags of groceries.  Instead, I simply smiled, thanking God, once again, for MS.  For you see, I am legally blind—and unable to drive—due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  I would never have been walking to the bus stop, if not for MS.  Buying gas for that young man is just one of many opportunities I have had to share the love of Jesus through acts of kindness or proclaiming my testimony, when riding the city bus or commuter train. 

None of us are exempt from “disabilities”…weaknesses, hardships, trials, and other limitations that the world—and the enemy—use to handicap us, making us ineffective for Christ. God wants to transform those disabilities into HIS abilities that shine a light in a dark world, offer hope where all hope is lost, or even fill a gas can for one of God’s dearly beloved. I spent several years floundering in the gutter, captive to the lies that I was helpless and had nothing to offer.  Then one day, the Lord so tenderly spoke to me through a passage written by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (MSG)

“Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the  weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

Yes, I thank God for MS…for blindness…for the gift of a handicap. 

By Debbie Guinn
©April 15, 2010

Winner Announced...Now What?

I woke early this morning with the needs of so many on my mind...the friend who is taking her BIG test today...the friend who needs a place to stay for ten days while going through radiation therapy, the friend who is on day eleven of no smoking, the friend who is writing a book on shame, the friend who is raising a niece and nephew while her sister and brother in-law are in prison, the friend of a friend who gave birth to a still-born baby boy last week...and Nancy, the woman I would like to call friend who I met at the Asian market last Saturday. 

I thought of Nancy and decided to check my email to see if I had heard back from her. What I found instead was an email from Michelle, of the Proverbs 31 editing team, informing me that I did not win the scholarship giveaway for the She Speaks Conference.  I am okay with that. I was never sure if my submission into the contest was about winning and attending the conference or not. I just knew God was telling me to write the article and submit, I obeyed.

However, I admit I expected something to come from it...some clue as to what direction I am to go next.  Yet, the contest has come and gone, the winner has been announced, and I cannot see where I gained any direction from that experience...not yet, anyway.  No doubt, God will show me what that exercise was all about...eventually. For, now, though, I feel like I am at the same spot I was a week ago--before I learned of the contest--asking the question "Now what?"...and all the other questions that go with it.

And so I wait.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

She Speaks Conference Scholarship and other Thoughts

I've been praying about what God has in store for me next. I've been writing for HeartBeat for about two and a half years. My very first article has turned into a Bible study that has been edited. But now what? That has been my question to God. My editor thinks it is something women really need. The women who sat under the teaching of it have told me the same thing.

But now what? What is my next step, Lord? What do I do with this study you told me to write? How do I get it to the people? Do I self-publish or pitch it to a publisher? I don't even know how to do either of those? My editor said I need to build a platform? How do I do that? Do I travel around teaching it? Do I mail out copies to people? Where does the money come from for all these things? The questions flood my mind...all coming back to What now, Lord?

It's been two months since I finished teaching the study in my home church and I've been praying...trying not to become restless. Oh how hard it is to sit and wait to hear his voice. But, every step of the way, God has led me and shown me not to rush ahead of Him. And so I wait.

Today, as I was catching up on some emails I receive (of blogs I follow), I ran across one that mentioned a scholarship for the She Speaks Conference. Something inside of me stirred when I heard about it. I've wanted to go to a writers/speakers conference before but it never seemed to be the right timing. Could this be it, Lord? Could this be my next step? I could never afford to go but maybe winning the scholarship would help.

I don't know the answer to that or the many other questions...yet. One thing I do know is I felt God leading me to enter the contest. No guarantees of guarantees of attending...simple obedience of writing an article and entering. And so, I will obey...and write.

If you are reading this and are interested in knowing more about the She Speaks Conference or the scholarship giveaway, click here. Deadline for scholarship submissions is tonight at midnight.