By Terry Gardner
It was a Saturday morning with a rainy ugly kind of start to the day. I was supposed to go work out but I did not even want to get out of bed. It took every ounce of my resolve to make myself go work out. As I began to walk on the treadmill, entering the gym came a young lady, about 24 years of age. Her left leg had been amputated above the knee. In a few minutes she was on the treadmill next to mine walking faster with one leg and her prosthesis than I was walking with two good legs. I began to run and soon she too was running and she ran faster than I ran. This was simultaneously embarrassing and encouraging. I quit walking and running after 35 minutes, my one legged neighbor was still going strong.
This event called to mind a long forgotten memory. My senior year in high school there was a fellow student named Steve Gardner. We were not related. I never shared a class with Steve and I can’t recall any conversation with him. We moved in different circles. However, I do recall Steve coming to school one day on crutches, his leg had been amputated above the knee. Steve had bone cancer and he soon passed from this life into the next one at barely 18 years of age. Steve and I are side by in the yearbook the only two Gardners at my high school.
The cover of this same yearbook features a lone runner moving effortless through the eucalyptus trees at the Burlingame Country Club. The photograph was taken on a still, cool California morning and in full vibrant colors. The runner is me, enjoying the knowledge that my senior yearbook would have my photo on the front cover. I gave no thought to Steve or anyone else. I was a self-absorbed 17-year-old kid without perspective.
Today I am a much older “kid” still lacking perspective way too often. Thanksgiving should characterize every Christian. Paul tells us to “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.” (Phil. 4:6). Am I thankful for each day that God grants me on the good earth? Do I make the most of my opportunities? Am I grateful to God for all his gifts to me?
When we have problems we tend to make them worse than they are. The Hebrew writer asks us to consider, to think about “Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” The writer then adds “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.” (Hebrews 12:3-4). I always see my problems as worse than they are. I am usually pretty sure I am suffering more than I really am. Do we consider Christ at times like these and think about what he suffered? That kind of comparison puts my own sufferings in perspective.
My paternal grandfather died at age 51 of black lung and tuberculosis after spending twenty years as a lead-zinc miner. When I am having a “bad” day at work I try to remember my grandfather. When I don’t want to work out, I try to remember the one-legged girl. When I think I am suffering spiritual persecution, I think about Christ and what he endured. The right perspective helps me see things as they are and not as I wish them to be. How is your perspective?