I was going about my usual fast-paced day at the clinic recently, trying to keep up with the schedule when mundane routine was suddenly brushed aside by a stark contrast of one man’s reality. It was one of those encounters that makes you slow down, think deeply, and then remember that sometimes the teacher becomes the student. It was a real listening moment.
Upon entering the exam room, it was not a scene too uncommon at all. A man was sitting in his wheelchair, but not the usual more advanced age person. This forty-something sat there as we talked about his medical conditions. He looked a little tired, but had a smile on his face throughout the discussion and examination. As we talked, he then tossed me this surprising statement: "Losing my leg was the best thing to ever happen to me." I sat there for a few seconds as I contemplated what he had just said trying to decide what would be the best way to respond.
Often, people who have been through traumatic circumstances discover it is hard to find anyone who understands what they have been or are going through. Their plight has been so difficult and traumatic they either get bound up or freed from the chains that tried to lock them up for good. It reminds me of when Peter was in prison (Acts 12) but was freed from his chains and escaped with the help of an angel (Acts 12: 6-17). The very people who were praying for Peter did not believe that he had been freed even when he showed up at their home. How many times are we the same way when the very thing we have been praying for is right there in front of us? Do we do as those early Christians and not open the door to someone knocking who is the reality of our answered prayers? When we are jolted by the sublimity and magnificence of God, do we stand looking at the unopened door while the knocking continues?
When those who have been through so much believe that a listening ear may be near that might understand, a small nugget of truth is sometimes released to test the environment to see if their heart can be safely shared. If there is a response to that knock on the door, then real truth can be heard that can do both the speaker and listener good. It also helps the person who is sharing to feel and know that their condition is not without some benefit to someone else. For those for whom the world and circumstances are going at a breakneck pace, it pays to take some time to sit on a bench with a friend and share.
This man shared about his journey of working hard and going about the routines that many of us take for granted when one day tragedy struck that left him as an amputee. Prostheses did not work out for him which meant going forward in life in a wheelchair. He shared about how this sudden slowdown of his routines had changed his life in a rather surprising way. He was enjoying a deeper walk with God than he had ever had before. His demeanor reflected a settled yet peaceful look which was odd due to the sudden change of his circumstances. His time of being thrown in a jail did not last long as he had been set free through the experience by the power of God and then came to knock on my door that day in the clinic. I'm glad I opened the door. Sometimes, less can be more and loss can be gain.