Sunday, April 11, 2010

What's My Excuse

"I have everything I need for joy!" Robert Reed said.  "Amazing!" I thought.

His hands are twisted and his feet are useless.  He can't bathe himself.  He can't feed himself.  He can't brush his teeth, comb his hair, or put on his underwear.  His shirts are held together by strips of Velcro.  His speech drags like a worn-out audio cassette.

Robert has cerebral palsy.

The disease keeps him from driving a car, riding a bike, and going for a walk.  But it didn't keep him from graduating from high school or attending Abilene Christian University, from which he graduated with a degree in Latin.  Having cerebral palsy didn't keep him from teaching at a St. Louis junior college or from venturing overseas on five mission trips.

And Robert's disease didn't prevent him from becoming a missionary in Portugal.

He moved to Lisbon, alone, in 1972.  There he rented a hotel room and began studying Portuguese.  He found a restaurant owner who would feed him after the rush hour and a tutor who would instruct him in the language.

Then he stationed himself daily in a park, where he distributed brochures about Christ.  Within six years he led seventy people to the Lord, one of whom became his wife, Rosa.

I heard Robert speak recently.  I watched other men carry him in his wheelchair onto the platform.  I watched them lay a Bible in his lap.  I watched his stiff fingers force open the pages.  And I watched people in the audience wipe away tears of admiration from their faces.  Robert could have asked for sympathy or pity, but he did just the opposite.  He held his bent hand up in the air and boasted, "I have everything I need for joy."

His shirts are held together by Velcro, but his life is held together by joy."
(Max Lucado, "The Applause of Heaven")

So... what's my excuse.  What's yours?

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