Worship had already begun. The lights were lowered, and we were all joined in praise. From my vantage point, I could see a family walking down the aisle trying to find seats. Normally, I wouldn’t have given them a second look, but there was a child in the family who caught my eye. She was in a powered wheelchair, and looked frail. I don’t know her age, nor her story, but I was glad to see her at church. Her family found a row with a cutout spot for her wheelchair, and immediately joined in worship.
I watched the young girl for a few moments and my suspicions were confirmed. She was weak, and looked to be in some pain. I made a snap judgement, and began to feel sorry for her. Then, in the midst of my pity for her, the worship band began the first few chords of the next song. Suddenly, the faces of her family members lit up, and they began to get excited. The excitement was directed towards the young girl in the wheelchair. She, too, seemed to brighten up. I wanted to know why, so I continued to watch. When the band came to the chorus of the song, she lifted her tired arms and sang as loudly as she could:
You are stronger you are stronger
Sin is broken you have saved me
It is written Christ is risen
Jesus you are Lord of all
Her praise was being expressed from the very depths of her soul. We sang the next verse and chorus while she continued with her arms lifted high. It was in the bridge of the song that she started to succumb to her body’s limitations, and her arms began to fall. We began singing the bridge:
So let your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher, be lifted higher
Over and over again, we sang those words. As the young girl’s arms finally fell, her sister, who appeared to be just a few years older than she, grabbed her arms and lifted them FOR HER. They continued in that pose until the song came to an end.
Stronger. So often, we fall into the worldly habit of thinking we are in control. We are strong enough to face this world due to how great we are. We are led into false assumptions of our own endurance, and our overconfidence gets us into the worst situations. We have declared our independence from God, and because of that we are destined to fail.
You know who was the strongest person attending worship that night? It was the young girl with more special needs than I will ever have to encounter. She knows that she has no strength on her own. Her earthly body has failed her. But, her resignation to that fact allows her a freedom that few ever get to experience.
When you have to rely on others for daily needs, as I do, you come to realize that there is a freedom in that reliance. I know I cannot take care of all of my own needs, and in that, I am forced to rely upon someone else. That reliance can easily then be translated to the spiritual need to rely upon God. Any pride in my own physical prowess was thrown out the window a long time ago. Good riddance. That pride only slowed me down in my race towards God. My surrender and reliance is my freedom. I know I am not strong on my own, but I am infinitely strong in Him.
What melted my heart and produced tears in my eyes that night at church was that I was being taught a lesson of which I needed to be reminded.
A lesson of dependence.
A lesson of humility.
A lesson on how to be strong – taught by the physically weakest, but spiritually strongest person in the room.