One of the greatest blessings in my life is my husband Kenny. We have been married for a little over 4 years now and I can not picture a life without this man beside me. He is one of the most kind, loving, generous, and funny people I know. He also happens to be a paraplegic. When Kenny was 19 years old he was in a snowmobiling accident that left him paralyzed from about the belly button down. This accident obviously flipped his life and his family’s lives upside down. Instead of being a normal 19 year old who couldn’t wait for the next snow storm to come, he was now a 19 year old who couldn’t wait to get out of his hospital bed. And that’s no understatement.
He couldn’t wait to get back to what he loved to do; farm. Kenny grew up on a family farm in Vermont and that was what he was most passionate about. He loved to be out working with his hands and driving tractors to get the corn planted and the hay dry. A few days after his accident, Kenny and his dad figured out a way that he could still farm. If they got a few different tractors that did not require a clutch, then he could still do what he was passionate about. This was a life changing moment for him. Instead of looking at what had happened to him and feeling bad for himself because of all the things that he couldn’t do, he faced his new reality and wasn’t going to let it keep him from living life. Another life changing moment for him was also not that long after his accident. But it didn’t come from someone else or even himself. It came from God. God made Kenny a promise that he was going to walk again and Kenny has held onto that promise for 10+ years.
When he first got out of the hospital and went to rehab, he was all amped up about anything he could do to get back to walking. He saw some progress at first and got some new feeling in his legs back, but then things slowly started to fade away. He got back to the farm and started to work again; life happened. He got back into a routine of working and seeing friends and paying bills, and he wasn’t seeing any major progress towards him walking again. We all know what this is like. We have a goal, and at first we set out to accomplish it and we are all excited and focused and every day we are working towards that goal. Then one day, something comes up to throw off our schedule, and then the next day we are just too tired, and then its the weekend and there’s a get-together at a friend’s and we don’t have time, and so on and so forth. It is so easy to get sucked away from our routine and goals in life. We also have an adversary, the devil, that works very hard to make us feel discouraged or distracted from our goals, especially something that would give glory to God. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is actively trying to ruin our lives. He is constantly searching for an opportunity to push us further away from God, and that is why the beginning of the verse tells us to be alert and watchful. If you can see an attack coming it is easier to defend yourself.
A few years went by and nothing was really happening for Kenny. He was kind of just going about life and waiting on God to help him walk again. Well, that wasn’t necessarily the promise that God gave him. He HAD promised that Kenny would walk again, but he HADN’T said that he was going to miraculously heal him and he HADN’T given a time frame.
The story of Abraham is similar in this aspect. When Abraham was 75 years old God called out to him and made him a promise. In Genesis 12 God promises Abraham that he will make a great nation out of him. This is a pretty big promise! At the age of 75+ Abraham had no children and now he is getting promised that he will have thousands of descendants. If we skip ahead a few chapters, 10 years go by, and Abraham still doesn’t have a child. He and his wife Sarah start to lose faith and to question the promise that was made to them. Abraham sleeps with Sarah’s maidservant Hagar and she conceives a child, but this was not the son that was promised by God. Another 13 years go by and God reaffirms his promise with Abraham and says that the son will be through Sarah, his wife. When Abraham finally bore the son that God had promised him, he was 99 years old. It had been 24 years since God’s original promise! No wonder Abraham is called the Father of all Believers. It took a lot of trust to hold onto that promise for 24 years, but because he did he was greatly blessed by it.
Just like the story of Abraham and his promise about his descendants, God never promised how or when it would happen, just that IT WOULD. Even Abraham, the Father of all Believers, lost faith. He waited over 10 years from when God gave him a promise to have a child. And he tried to have a child with another woman, even when God had specifically said his offspring would come from Sarah. It is so easy to get discouraged when we don’t see things come to pass when we think they should.
It is so easy to give up and think that God doesn’t care about us anymore or to think that maybe God forgot what He promised me. It was easy for Kenny to get used to the fact that he was paralyzed and that he could still live his life from a wheelchair. He could still work, he learned to ski and bike, he still had friends and family that loved him, he now had a wife that loved him just the way he was. It would have been easy for him to just say this is my life now and I can live it from a wheelchair. BUT that’s not what God wants. God wants his son to walk again. He wants him to be healed and to live the full life he was supposed to live. He wants him to grow closer to God through this journey of healing.
I have had the privilege to be a part of the last 5 years of this journey for Kenny and it has been so amazing to watch this man grow in his relationship with God. There are a lot of days that are real struggles, and some days that we both just want to give up, but thankfully we have that promise from God that we can hold on to. The biggest thing that I have learned about watching Kenny through this is perseverance.
It takes a lot of perseverance to keep going when the world of medicine tells you that spinal cords don’t heal.
It takes a lot of perseverance to keep searching when doctors tell you that you will never walk again.
It takes a lot of perseverance to keep trying when it has been months and nothing is changing.
It takes a lot of perseverance to keep trusting God and asking Him what’s next.
It takes a lot of perseverance to listen to God when He tells you to move away from your family and your passion of farming to focus more on walking.
It takes a lot of perseverance EVERY DAY to choose to listen and trust God instead of give up and go about your life the way it is.
It would be a lot easier to just accept what happened to him. It would be easier to focus on other things that we want to do. It would be easier to not go to physical therapy twice a week. It would be easier to not walk in his treadmill every day. It would be easier to not search for doctors who are open minded about Kenny walking. It would be easier to not have to combat the looks and comments we get when we tell people why we are doing what we are doing. It would be easier…
But life isn’t about taking the easier road. It’s about taking the road that God leads us down. So just as Romans 5:3-5 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the holy spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” There is something that we can learn from every situation, and from this situation there is so much I learn every single day
When Kenny got his promise 10 years ago, he thought that God was going to heal him, just like the stories in the Bible, and when it didn’t happen that way it was frustrating. When Kenny humbled himself and went to God with his anger and frustration, he realized that it wasn’t necessarily going to be the way that he thought, but the way that God thought. God was going to help him and work WITH him. And I’ll tell you what, it may be a long and hard road that he is walking and it may be a road that led us a totally different direction than we thought, but it is a road full of the grace of God and His miracles. Instead of seeing one big miraculous healing, we have seen hundreds of “little” miracles; instead of one person being involved in this journey, there have been thousands who have been witness to it; and instead of our trust and relationship with God growing from one instance, it has deepened to a level that can only result from time and perseverance. This promise might not look like what we thought it should, but God has been with us through the whole thing. His hand prints are everywhere and it has only helped us grow closer to him. Can you even imagine how ecstatic Abraham was when the day finally came that Isaac was born? Or how much joy there will be when Kenny does walk again? So when you are down and feeling frustrated when things are taking a little longer than you think or not going how you thought they should, remember to persevere through the hard times because what is coming is so much sweeter!