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  A Christian Faith Magazine August 2003, Volume 9, Issue 1  
Overcoming Limitations
Rev. Mark Connolly
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Steven Hawking
Steven Hawking

I would like to share a few thoughts with you on a subject that only you can individually answer. This is going to be complicated. I read a short biographical essay of a man by the name of Steven Hawking. He is perhaps one who borders on being a genius. He is a physicist who teaches at Cambridge University in England. He is one who has done a tremendous amount of work on the problem of the Black Hole in the galaxy. Without a doubt, his IQ goes through the roof. His classes at Cambridge University are mobbed to hear him speak. But there is something unusual about him. He has the disease we call Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS. He has been in a wheel chair all of his life. He can barely whisper and through some new microphone techniques with advanced technology he whispers into this sophisticated microphone system and his voice is heard by the 150 students that jam his classroom. As I mentioned, he has Lou Gehrig's - paralyzing neurological disease, in a wheelchair from morning to night and yet, he never misses a teaching class.

Another story that prompted this, and maybe you have an answer for it, is a story of a young man by the name of Eric Weihenmayer who has a degenerative disorder that legally and totally makes him blind. He is a blind mountain climber. With this extraordinary disability, he was able to climb the last of the seven highest mountains in the world.

Another story that prompted this is a story I heard one Friday night on 20/20 of a young woman by the name of Jessica Park, 17 years of age who was born without any arms and yet she is academically quite successful, has become a cheerleader, is one of the great social leaders of her school and is now selecting what college she will eventually enter.

I mentioned in the beginning of this that there is something that strikes me in a very strange fashion. Here are people with extraordinary disabilities, extraordinary limitations and yet, they excel in a way that borders on the unbelievable. Then when you compare our lives to theirs, we who have been blessed, we who have been given five talents, four talents or one talent, according to the Gospels, do we achieve as much as they do with the talents and opportunity that God has given us devoid of the limitations and the disabilities that no other people experience? You have seen them in wheel chairs, you have seen them on walkers, you have seen them with strokes, and yet they have many of them, a high degree of achievement compared to us who do not have their disabilities.

If you study the gospels quite closely, you might remember the Gospel of the good steward when Christ came back to offer a man who had used a hundred talents and he gave that man another hundred talents. Christ offered a man fifty talents who had developed those fifty talents and Christ gave him fifty more. The point is from the Gospel that we are accountable to God for the full usage of the talents that God has given us. When we appear before God is He going to say to each one of us, well done good and faithful servant, because of the talents I gave you on earth you used them properly. Or is He going to be disappointed with the way we used the talents he gave us.

In marriage counseling or even any kind of clinical counseling, you soon find that a lot of the problems we encounter in the privacy of my office you will eventually find are self-created. Problems that we create on our own. We do not have ability or disability, oftentimes with our wrong attitudes and our wrong use of the imagination, we create havoc in our own lives. Oftentimes when we allow our attitude and our imagination to get out of control, we become victims of self absorption. In other words, a condition that convinces us that our problems are worse than any one else's, even those with great disabilities and great physical limitations.

Cross as Xray

Almost anyone who has done any public speaking has heard the example that if we had some divine x-ray machine and we had the ability to see the crosses that others are carrying, most of us would be very happy to hold onto the cross we are caring at this very moment. The cross we have been given is a challenge, just as a disability is a challenge. The cross we have been given is God's way of testing our sense of trust in Him to find out how deep and how much conviction we have concerning trust. The cross we have been given is not a mistake any more than the cross of Christ was a mistake. The cross we have been given reminds us that every Good Friday can be turned into an Easter Sunday. Every disability in the examples I gave you have been turned into a resurrection moment by people who did not indulge in self pity and used the cross as a challenge to be more productive.

Each one of us lives in a time when crosses come in different ways. Each one of us can use that cross not only to give honor and glory to ourselves, but to the God who gave us that same cross.

God Love you.

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