I've never been much of a he-man. I've always been the guy who did his best to keep his shirt on at the beach, embarrassed that I didn't have much in the way of muscles. Lifting heavy objects has never been my strong suit. But now, after more than two years of hormone treatment that gave me osteoporosis, and a spine full of cancer compromising the strength of the bones in my spine, not to mention the cancer in my hip bone and tail bone, the problem is much worse. Now, I truly am a weakling. I just hope some bully doesn't decide to kick sand in my face.
I'm not allowed to lift more than twenty pounds at a time. This comes into play more than you might realize. I went to the pet store yesterday to buy dog food. We have a seventy pound dog, so buying dog food in small bags doesn't make much sense. I've always bought large bags, which weigh from 25 to 35 pounds. So I had to ask for a manager and explain my condition. I asked if they'd give me the large bag price for two smaller bags, which weigh less than twenty pounds each. He agreed, but now, every time I go there, I have to make sure there's a manager handy to validate his offer. And frankly, as a man, it's embarrassing to have to ask for that.
We had a rehearsal for The Littleton Conservatory Of Rock here at our home yesterday. I love having rehearsal here. It's so much fun. But I can't participate in load-in or load-out much, nor can I help set up as much as I'd like. Forget about moving a speaker six inches. Not allowed.
You know what else isn't allowed? Jumping. Not that I jump that much, but I'm a very energetic performer. I caught myself jumping a couple of times during rehearsal yesterday. Me and my one-inch vertical leap. But the risk of a spinal compression is too great for me. I have to keep my limitations in the forefront of my mind all the time. One wrong jump could paralyze me.
It's winter, and we had a snowstorm here in Denver last Sunday. Guess what I wasn't allowed to do? Shovel snow. Not that I mind getting out of that duty, but there is no one else to do it. That's one reason why we chose a house that faces south. We have more than 300 days of sun here, and the sun melts the snow very quickly, even when it's still cold outside. So a few inches of snow didn't require me to shovel this time. But if we get a blizzard and have to get out, I'm not sure what we'll do. That's the trouble with being such a weakling.
Shoveling isn't even the main danger when there's snow on the ground. Falling is. One slip and fall could be disastrous for me. I could literally break my hip, which is filled with cancer.
Here's something else that doesn't add to my self-image. I am now the proud owner of one of these:
I used to scoff at the geezers who took so many pills they had to keep them organized by the day of the week. Now, I not only have to organize them by the day, but the time of day. Thankfully, I don't have an evening pill to take yet, but my nausea pills need to be taken three times a day. I try to remember to take them in the morning, mid-afternoon and before bed, so as to space them out as much as possible. I'm not supposed to take them too close together. I also have a sleeping pill to take before bed. So now, I spend my Sunday mornings before church filling my pill dispenser for the following week. I hope I don't have to add too many more pills to my regimen, or my pill dispenser might weigh more than twenty pounds.
But while I'm weaker than I've ever been, physically, I'm stronger than I've ever been, spiritually. I've never been more sure of my relationship with God, or of his goodness, his power, or his love for me. But it's not my strength. I'm just using his. Even in the spiritual realm, I am a weakling. Like a boy who might boast that his dad can beat up another kid's dad, I boast that my heavenly father can beat up any problem, illness, or obstacle. I can't, but he can. My weakness only serves to show his power.
God even shovels my driveway. He does it with the sun he created. The God who created the thermonuclear reactions in the interior of the sun has no limit to his power. All we have to do is recognize our need for him, and our weakness in the face of life's challenges.
I am a weakling, and my body keeps getting weaker. I had hoped that, after hormone treatment wore off, I might get some of my strength back. But as hormone treatment fades, the process of dying takes over. And as my body grows weaker, my connection with the ultimate source of power grows stronger. I am weak, but he is strong. It took a terminal illness to teach me that. I hope you learn it easier than I did.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)