Have you ever had a moment that has stayed imprinted in your mind and will resurface from time to time? You know the type of moment. The life experience that made such an impression that it has guided your choices and will bring your mind back to a realization of just how great you have it in life. One of those moments that will forever shake your foundation of pessimism and hurl your thoughts back into a state of gratitude. I have one that reintroduces itself into my thoughts and makes me smile with the knowledge of how blessed I am.
I was raised in a church environment and a church family until I was in my twenties. It was my choice at that time to stop going to church. I know to those of you that read this and are adamant church goers, that sounds like I lost faith in God and church. When in fact I have never lost faith on God. I cannot say the same about men and especially those that profess to be Christians but their everyday life testimony does not reflect that truth. The same people that actually live further from a Christ like life than most of us that do not attend any organized church. If you cannot forgive others and tend to hold bad feelings or look down on most everyone around you then you are nothing like Christ. But, all of that is another story and is off track of this story.
As a young church goer I attended a few years of summer bible camp situated in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. I was somewhere around 10 or 11 years old when I attended the camps with our church group and groups from churches from 3 other states. The camps were full of rambunctious males and females from around 10 years of age all the way to 16 years of age and I was one of them. Of course, at that age of preteen and teen years, we all pretty much had a big selfish streak. We tended to make everything all about ourselves and we could be pretty juvenile if things didn’t work out that way. So it was on a breezy summer night on a mountain side bible camp full of kids that were full of themselves, that I received one of the most precious moments I would ever experience. Little did I know it at the time but it would have a bigger impact on me as I aged. It was because the memory of that night would keep popping up at random times in my life that the moment has never faded and probably never will.
I am the youngest of 3 sons born to the most awesome parents anyone could have. My mom and dad have both departed and moved on to a more glorious existence. Before they left us they instilled in me what I needed to become a loving and thoughtful person in my life. They raised me and my brothers with love and compassion and with a foundation of God and family. To this day I have not a single bad memory of childhood. I am so very grateful for that and for them.
My parents were active in the church for years and kept us all busy and active as well. When it came time to go to camp they made sure all 3 of us went along with our church group. It was a good experience and I found it wonderful as a soul cleansing and a way to celebrate with other youngsters that sought to be better persons and more Christ-like. I suppose with all the fun and games and studying and praying that took place at the camps we did grow as young Christians and young people.
One of the nightly activities took place under a huge covered area. It was singing and a chance to testify and a lot of discussion time where we could and would talk about whatever was on our minds. I witnessed a lot of young kids being “in the spirit” and the “Power of God” was so strong at times that many people seemed to have spiritual eureka moments.
It was during one of those nightly gatherings when the discussion moved to what we didn’t like and what we thought was unfair in our lives. So many people started complaining about silly things like doing chores and then a majority of the people agreed that it wasn’t fair that they had to cut the grass. It quickly became the number one complaint as one by one the participants chimed in. This was setting the stage for a humbling of myself and the multitude of others present. I cannot speak for the others but I have never forgotten what happened and what was said next.
With everyone in a nodding, slap myself on the back agreement about how horrible it was that we had to be subjected to such hard work, we were not expecting any sort of dissent. Yet, dissent came…but it was spot on.
From the back of the crowd, from a spot in the center aisle came a voice that quietened the whole place. It came from the mouth of one that was usually shy and withdrawn. I do not remember his name but I still can see him as I turned around like so many others to hear his input. This young boy who was a few years older than myself sat in the aisle in a wheelchair. From his position there he commanded everyone’s attention as he spoke these words. ” I sit here and listen to all of you complain about having to cut your yards. I have been in this wheelchair all of my life. You don’t know how much I would love to be able to cut my grass. Yet, you complain when you are blessed enough to walk and run and do those things that I cannot and never will be able to do.”
When he finished speaking everyone sat where they were without speaking. It was silence for many moments until a counselor spoke up. I like everyone there that night was moved deeply by what this young person said. Even as powerful as his thoughts and words were, before the night was over I was back in my happy go lucky world laughing and flirting and all that young kids do on a breezy summer camp night. Little did I know that I would think of the young boy in the wheelchair so often through life. It has been 4 plus decades and when I am in my solitude of grass cutting I think of him. I think of how blessed I am to be able to cut my grass. I spent many hours since then walking and playing and cutting grass and all sort of things that he never did get to experience. He humbled me in such a way that I have carried his humbling lesson throughout my lifetime. And, still even today I said a silent thanks that I was cutting my grass on a beautiful day in sweltering heat.
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