Occasionally, I will see something that will leave my mouth hanging wide-open. A sight that makes you ask God, “why” and at the same time worships Him for his goodness.
Doc and I were in Roanoke, VA visiting my friend, and co-conspirator in laughter, Susan Stilwell. It was mid-morning when Doc and I decided to go for a walk and see a bit of Roanoke.
Finding a cozy little nook that served omelets and played live piano Jazz for your morning entertainment, we decided to sit and enjoy.
After listening for a few minutes to the piano player, Doc decides that this guy is really good and goes to the tip jar to toss in some appreciation and request the song Masquerade – one of his favorites.
I noticed that he stops in mid-sentence, and with a look of surprise, tilts his head to the side, and says, “You’re good, man – you’re really good!” before returning to his seat. His look of surprise melts into the biggest smile as he encourages me to go up and watch this man play the piano.
Standing beside the piano, I my mouth drops open like a Big-mouth Bass. This talented player has only a left hand; the right arm stops just below the elbow and narrows to a stub.
His mother, and friends sit nearby, and I ask her to tell me the story.
“My son, Tony, was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome. The forearm and hand on the right side never developed. When Tony was young, he would go to his grandmother’s house where she taught piano lessons. He loved listening to the songs and would, at an early age, try to play. When he asked his grandmother to teach him to play, she would cry because there was not a right hand to play the treble line.”
Tony continued to try playing the piano, and begged for lessons until his grandmother surrendered and began teaching him. Playing the treble with his right arm, without hand, he would work to strike the correct keys. Eventually he found a person who could reverse his electronic keyboard, so that he plays the treble line with his left hand and the bass with his right. Then came the second miracle for Tony, he learned to reverse the music, inverting treble and bass.
In the Book of John, there was a man with a disability from birth – blindness. The disciplines asked Jesus about the cause of his blindness. Was it the result of the sin of the parents or his sin that caused the blindness?
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned”, said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3 NIV)
The thought that God would allow anything to happen to us that would make our lives difficult is a struggle for anyone to understand. But, God’s point of view is different that ours. It is in our weakness, that we find that we are strong. We find that we are able, because God allows us to partner with Him to show the world the hope that He can provide.
See Tony playing here http://youtu.be/3i7xQoe8o8E:
Tears are barely contained as I watch and listen to this young man playing so beautifully. To watch his mother gently sway in silent bliss to the music coming from a man ,who, the world could have told that the dream in his heart was impossible. Yet here he was. Not in some dark room so that no one could see the disability, No! He was in full view for the world to see!
“The purpose of the disability (teaching about the blind man in John 9) was not punishment but proclamation. It’s just that no one knew until that day.” ~Jon Bloom, Not By Sight, pg 154.
It is difficult, sometimes, for us to see our own brokenness, and disabilities, whether physical or spiritual, as anything worth of giving God praise; or anthing worthy of being used. But, God is looking for people willing to be used! It can seems like anything but joy, to partner with God in this way. But ,what the world calls imperfect, God calls wonderfully made. He calls it, “exactly what I need to accomplish this task.”
I believe Toney’s life, is a life of encouragement to those with physical disabilities and to those (like me) whose disabilities are well hidden, and who marveled with their mouth hanging wide open.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”(Isaiah 6:8)
Staring at the physical challenges of my body, as well as emotional handicaps, I call out to God, “Lord, if there is anything worthy in me, use me!”
Share your story of a challenge that God placed in your life. Can you see how it is there for proclamation and not punishment?
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