Looking In The Mirror

I have a confession to make – I’m a mess!

I was reminded of this yesterday morning after Mary set me in my wheelchair.

As I mentioned before, my neck muscles are too weak to hold my head up. When getting me set up on the computer, Mary places a pillow behind my head and reclines the wheelchair so I can comfortably look at the screen without my head falling. ALS is such a hassle!

If I wanted to see myself in a mirror, I’d have to ask her to park me in front of the mirror. I don’t do that. Not only because I cannot speak to ask her this, but also because I have no interest in doing so. I don’t need another reminder of what twenty-three years with ALS and fifty-nine years living in this harsh environment we call earth has done to my face.

After Mary sets me in the wheelchair, she turns on my computer then attaches it to the wheelchair. The support bars that secure the computer to the wheelchair hold the screen about eighteen inches from my face. Yesterday morning, however, she attached the computer but forgot to turn it on. In the early morning light coming in from the open blinds, the blank computer screen was like a mirror fixed directly in front of my face.

“I’m a mess,” I thought, as I stared at the man reflected on the black screen. It’s funny, though, one of the first things I noticed is that Mary had my hair brushed perfectly. I laughed about this because we were not expecting company and I normally don’t see myself. She could leave me with Albert Einstein’s hair, and I wouldn’t even know. Mary does the right thing even when nobody notices.

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” – C.S. Lewis

As I continued to look at the weathered face in the reflection, I thought about how depressing my life would be if I focused on my appearance. Even more so if my joy and satisfaction depended on the trappings of this world like wealth, nice cars and material things, and good food. Although, now that I think about it, a tender steak sounds really good right now.

“We do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Friends, I know all too well that trials are difficult. If you are going through a difficult time, allow God to shift your focus from the visible and temporary things to the invisible and eternal things. God’s word is the mirror of our soul. Spend time in this mirror every day. It will change your life for the better.

After five minutes of contemplating my existence, Mary realized that she forgot to turn the computer on and hit the power button and dashed off to do laundry or something. Another face, a face painted by an eight-year-old girl being raised by atheist parents, soon appeared on my screen:

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ - Unshakable Hope!

Posted on February 27, 2020, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 138 Comments.

  1. Such a powerful and needed word! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have this same painted image of Jesus as my cell-hone screen saver. It is so comforting to see Him looking back at me before I let little slivers of the world seep in. Hugs to you for sharing your heart’s “reflection” with all of us…it is a beautiful image to behold.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    Faith Filled Friday thought: Lord, give me coffee to change the things I can and music to accept the things I can’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bill, you have the gift of encouraging us and making us laugh at the same time. 🙂
    This morning I was thinking about this bumpy ride called life; I suspect we’re only able to see a teeny fraction of the goodness of God in the way He is leading us. When we get to the other side of this carpet ride, we’ll see and comprehend all the beauty He wove through our struggles.
    Blessings to you & Mary ~ Wendy Mac

    Like

  5. Love this! I’ve been out of the loop for a bit and missed some posts, I see. Time to get myself back on track, too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely inspiring postings. Great to find you continuing to spread good news and having the energy to get others back on their feet, giving them hope and courage to continue in a not always so easy life.

    I thought you have a computer system where you can use your eyes to get the machine saying things, but naturally, when the computer is not switched on by Mary you cannot speak to her asking things. Though does not one becomes able to communicate with each other without talking, after some time?

    Mary doing the right thing even when nobody notices gives her a lot of credit and should make you proud of her.

    The Most High God cannot be seen by man. This makes it often so difficult for man to accept that there is One Divine Creator. Several Christians have then created for themselves another god, which was seen by many, namely Jesus Christ. Though he, as a man of flesh and blood, died also. The things which are seen are temporal, but by God taking up His only begotten son, we have hope for the things which are not seen yet, which are eternal.

    Too many people forget that Jesus in a way was the mirror of God, Him showing the way to God and the way to the narrow gate to enter God’s Kingdom.
    As you say we should allow God to shift our focus from the visible and temporary things to the invisible and eternal things. This might for many be very difficult. But it should not be so hard as we think. God’s word, the mirror of our soul, sheds the light to what is behind the glass. When we spend time in this mirror every day it not only will give us insight and power to continue our way in this world. By letting the light of that Word into our heart we shall be able to change our life for the better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen. Thank you for your comments.
      Yes, if Mary wants to shut me up, she can do it by simply pushing the power button on my computer 🙂
      It takes a lot of patience from both of us to communicate when I’m not on my computer.

      Like

  7. Hi Bill,

    Great to hear from you. Isn’t it true that our Unshakable Hope in Christ gets us through the junk we experience on Earth. We have so much to look forward to and it gets us through the drab of now.

    In Christ,

    Gary

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bill, your words inspire me. Thank you for the reminder that the real mirror is that of God’s word. Regardless of what that shiny thing in the bathroom conveys, my real person is reflected in where I’m focused.

    I loved this:

    “God’s word is the mirror of our soul. Spend time in this mirror every day. It will change your life for the better.”

    Thanks for the reminder!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I must get back to blogging. You are so inspiring even though it is so difficult for you to spends hours on your blog, You do it with grace and I love reading them. With my polio still affecting me so much on my left lower side it is becoming so difficult for me to keep up. I walk very slowly and so careful thinking about every step but I am still walking. When we go to events, as we will this evening, I do take my wheel chair. I feel so out of place, and I should not. My world around me has seen me walk my entire with the effects of polio and I am sure they understand that it is getting more difficult each year that goes by. I do accept help but not with grace. I still feel like i want to do all things my self. I will learn from you. Your are amazing and I think Mary is so wonderfully lucky to have you for her partner. She sounds just like a wonderful lady that you fell in love with. She has been so strong and I think she is a blessing to you for her continued care. God bless you both. Now I should go from here to my blog and GET IT DONE. Soon very soon. Working an paying some bills right now and then off to church to clean up a room that is over with a mess of STUFF. It could take a couple times of working on it to get it just so. Enjoy Spring.

    Linda

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Linda. I can relate to the difficulty of using a wheelchair in public. I fought having to do so for too long. It took many falls and having to be helped up by strangers for me to finally give in. I have concluded that if people want to discover if they have an issue with pride, get pushed around in a wheelchair at the mall and a restaurant 🙂 Needing a wheelchair is a humbling thing, Linda.
      Just use your wheelchair and enjoy yourself.

      Like

  10. I don’t know how you do it, but you did it again. What a message! I like one of your reader comments that you are an “inspiration factory”. I love that! You most certainly are. I have been doing some reflecting of late myself and downsizing as I found that nothing matters, nothing; only my faith in the Lord will see me through anything and everything. I just hate that it took a tragedy to drive home that message, but never too late I guess. You just don’t realize how amazingly inspirational you are to me. I have a childhood friend who was recently diagnosed with ALS and I am sending her your link, you will no doubt be an amazingly inspiration to her also. What a gift you are. You and Mary should tour the world with your messages, this world could use a good dose.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. You are so right, stuff matters little when you are in a trial, it just weighs us down. Sadly, it took ALS to make me realize this. I’m sorry about your friend with ALS. I hope and pray that something I’ve written will encourage her. Give her my email address if you’d like
      Unshakablehope@gmail.com

      Like

  11. You write amazing posts. Tears here. What an incredible outlook and so true to focus on Jesus and eternal perspective rather than our everyday lives and appearances. Still, your focus astounds me, humbles me and encourages me. If you can live with such grace and patience, and with such a servant’s heart, in spite of your situation, why shouldn’t we? And Mary, you are a saint, as I’m sure your husband “tells” you daily. I believe the testimony of both of your lives will be spoken of in heaven.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Wow! Another powerful message. And Mary, she’s incredible! What an amazing wife she is. How loving of her to comb your hair. God bless your dear Mary.
    And you Bill, you always inspire. The word tells us that man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. That’s completely counterculture. He cares about our heart condition more than anything. Thank you for this lovely post.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I too have a confession to make Bill: we’re all a mess. The good news about this is that Jesus is the antidote for all of our messes!
    God bless you and Mary!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Wow. What an image you painted with your words — ending with a powerful punch! I love how God gives you these lessons. I know He does the same for us, too, if we would just take the time to listen. Thank you! And, God bless your wonderful wife for being the example for us! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  15. What a wonderful post and a God inspired sense of humor!
    Thank you Lord for the work that you do through Bill with the inspirational, loving (often times comical) thoughts from this faithful servant of yours. Love you Bill!!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Bill Sweeney that is so simply profound! As usual, you touched my heart with this post! I love you and Mary! How grateful I am to have you both as my friends! ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Bill, thank you. What a great perspective to share at this the beginning of lent. I met you years ago when I was visiting with your sis, Paula. I believe Cheryl was with us too. You are the almighty to me.
    Peace, my friend,
    Marie

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Bill, thank you for this, I dwell a lot on that last verse you quoted: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

    The question is, who do you see when you look into a mirror? Yes, I know, we see ourselves, and I’ve spent a lot of time over the years “reflecting” on myself and being dejected by who I see. But wait a minute. You mean, Lord, that there’s another mirror in which, as I take my eyes off me and look with unveiled face into THIS mirror, I behold HIM and see… myself? Yes, myself transformed into that same image! What a wonder. What a wonder.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. So Cool Bill! LOVE IT!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. looking with a sense of comparison is just nasty judgment. jesus did not do this. agape love did not do this (1 corinthians 13)

    Liked by 2 people

  21. There is no question that the outward man and woman perish w/ age. No amount of potions or cosmetic surgery make any real difference. Hair thins and goes grey. Skin wrinkles. Bones and muscles weaken. But it is the inner man and woman that matter to the Lord. “…the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16: 7). And He, Himself, is at work on that inner man or woman. We His assurance on that (Phil. 1: 6). ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Thank you for such a wonderful post, Bill. You’re blessed with a wonderful wife! And although I am not in the same position as you, I sort of despise looking in the mirror also. Because I too am a terrible mess. Perhaps for different reasons, perhaps for the same. But every day I am amazed that God continues to put up with me, to love me, and To anxiously await my homecoming. So beyond my understanding. God bless you today, Sir. Love in Christ, Dee

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Wow Bill, I couldn’t help but feel waves of compassion and respect for your witness and the glory of our God who can do the seemingly impossible, in us and through us. There are so many times that you and Mary come to my mind as I am praying and inquiring of God why something is happening that I have no understanding on. There are so many things that I do not understand and yet, in the back of my mind, I keep getting this impression that we are given enough to learn to trust and experience the love of God that is almost impossible to explain. The essence of your spirit, your ability to smile from your heart and the unwavering love that Mary demonstrates, is such a testimony to the goodness of God. I’m sure of one thing, that nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love. And His love surrounds and encompasses our lack of understanding now but one day we shall know Him, even as we are now known by Him. I am so grateful for your witness. God’s continued grace, peace and blessings to you and yours my friend.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you for your encouraging words and for your prayers, Bruce. I am definitely with you in not understanding the reasons for so many things. I think that trusting and hoping in God when we don’t understand, is ultimately what faith is.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Dear Bill, when I read your posts I don’t see your disability I see your great faith. It brings tears to my eyes. Faith is powerful. Blessings to you and your beautiful Mary.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. You’re an inspiration, Bill. I think we could all honestly say that we’d rather gaze into his face than our own! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Oh brother, it’s a joy to hear from you! God showed me how useless vanity is when I lost all my hair. At first it was traumatic but then I felt free.
    I have to tell you, Mary is such an inspiration to me. As for me, a woman and wife, she is my heroine and I’m sure I speak for many!
    Thanks for your uplifting post,
    Bob and I love you! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Lisa. Losing your hair is traumatic for everyone, I think, but more so for women. A seven-year-old boy we know is battling cancer and losing his hair was hard on him. His dad and brother shaved their heads. Life is difficult for so many, but God is so much better than the challenges we face.
      Thank you (and Bob) for your prayers and friendship.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. I’m also part of the messiest of the mess club! Thank goodness for God’s grace and glory. Loved your post. I hope you’re well. Give Mary my love.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. So well written Bill but when I see you, I still see the handsome , thoughtful man I have always seen. Bonus , you have an amazing wife who always make sure you look your best. PS-I don’t like my mirror either. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Ellen. I had a haircut last month and, as Mary was holding my head up, my barber said I looked handsome. Like my sister, Ellen, she’s a nice lady 🙂 (It’s great having a professional barber who makes house calls).

      Like

  29. Thank you for this encouraging message to focus on God when we are going through a difficult time and not on temporal things.
    As our outer self is wasting away our inner self is being renewed – a powerful reminder. Thank you again.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. You are in my prayers.Thank you for being such a blessing to the cold world.
    I have read about the artist who painted the picture of Jesus. Want it be something if he really looks like that.? She is very talented and her story is amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. I love how you see past the external to see the grace and glory of the internal. The true picture of who we are is in Him, the One who knows our every crack and hole, our every wart, and sees us as beautiful. Thanks for your willingness to be authentic. For seeing the beauty in the depth of sorrow and suffering, the awe and wonder of the redemption of pain.

    Liked by 3 people

  32. God bless you my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. It’s good to be reminded that our spirit is who we are, not the body that holds our spirit.

    Liked by 3 people

  34. Bill thanks for your honesty and encouraging words for those of us with so little to fuss over. God bless you. When we meet one day together with Jesus I wonder what that will be like.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. It’s way to easy to focus on the world instead of being laser-focused on Jesus. I need more of Jesus everyday! Thanks for sharing, Bill!

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Thanks for the reminder to focus on what really matters and not get caught up in our suffering and the unfairness of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Bill your story reminded me of several years ago when I ended up in the hospital because of an accidental overdose….. almost dying but my husband found me in time…. but he was investigated by the police and confiscated my computer to search it etc…. but when I got it back in the hospital the desktop background had been changed to a picture of Jesus, very similar to the one you showed. The detective must have determined I was a Christian because of the content on my computer, and decided to put that picture on! It was amazing when I opened it up to use it for the first time… to see ‘Jesus’ looking back at me…..Diane

    Liked by 3 people

  38. This post is so inspiring! You speak from a point of view that puts all of our complaining to shame! So glad you have such a wonderful wife! She is truly a gift! Blessings to you both! ❤🌹

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Beautiful and inspiring post Bill

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Thank You Lord Jesus for Mary…and for Bill 🙌🏽
    I’m left feeling inspired and grateful knowing that what we face now is temporary but it works in us seeds that will last for eternity. Hallelujah!
    Timely reminder that we need as oft as possible, have our faces checked in the mirror of the Word ♥️

    Liked by 3 people

  41. As I read your post and then read what others are commenting about your post I am reminded of your unshakable courage and hope and how so many of us just don’t have it. Only through Christ can we maintain the strength, courage, hope and love that you so willing share. Thank you and may we all learn from your example. Look forward to the day when in heaven you will be able to walk down the river’s of heaven and see in the reflections of the pools, just how beautiful he made you.

    Liked by 3 people

  42. Another outstanding post, Bill. You make me smile and often bring me to tears–bittersweet tears for all you’ve faced and all you have to look forward to. Your crown is going be awfully heavy!!

    Liked by 2 people

  43. So grateful for your perspective.

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  44. Love you, Bill. Thank you for writing this.

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  45. Thank you Bill, for more inspiration. You are like an inspiration factory—like Hallmark cards of life’s reality with respect to a glorious future. As Christians, we actually believe in this. We believe the day will come when we change out these mortal bodies for spiritual ones in which we will forever remain eternally healthy, vibrant, and strong. Without such a belief life is essentially individually worthless except in good times, which for some are many but others few.

    I recently lost a best friend. I lost my best friend three years ago. His wife has now gone on to join him with the Lord. It left a void. It will take time getting used to. Longtime good friends with which we share the Lord are a rare thing. Though my friend made it beyond 77 and my other friend, his wife, was only a month short, she was an absolute picture of health and vitality and did not look her age whatsoever. Then she got sick and began treatments which made her much more sick. In a matter of months she was gone.

    They both helped so many people in their time through so many ways. And they were a great help to me. To think, then, that life ends when our bodies quit is asinine. There you are Bill, as vibrant as ever in spirit though having to deal with your challenge that pretty much none of us could ever understand or relate to, but every single day you keep going and because of that people are touched, and strengthened, and made to weep for you and for how blessed we are, though we also have our own stuff to deal with. Because you keep going with such a far out attitude as if you were not dealing with what you deal with, we see in part that, hey, life ain’t so bad when put in perspective and we know the hard times are temporary.

    And I think, well, if you can do it then so can I, though I’m a pansie compared to you. I hope your readers don’t get mad at me for saying this but I think most of us are all pretty much pansies compared to you.

    Except Mary. People may wonder what it was you ever did to have such a wonderful wife right there beside you all the time helping you out. I don’t think you could have ever done anything. I’m your friend Bill, but you’re not that good. God just blessed your socks off. I know you already do this, probably all the time, but please tell Mary thank you one more time for me.

    And I still pray that you get a bigger platform. Somebody please call Joel Osteen. Somebody in your circle must know him. More people need to be blessed by your story and your ongoing fight. They need to hear about your great attitude. They need to know what y’all do for people.

    Blessings to you both! Heaven will come for all of us soon enough, thanks to the Lord. In the meantime there is work required of us from the One who bought us with His own shed blood. Amen. Onward.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you for your encouraging comments, RJ. I’m sorry you have so much heartache.
      As my body becomes weaker and weaker, God reveals to me more and more about eternity. It’s going to be better than anything we have the ability to comprehend. I fight on in the hope that maybe I can change just one more soul’s eternity. Hang in there, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  46. Thank you Bill for the encouragement to look into the mirror of Scripture for the encouragement we need. Having been homebound since before Christmas, I have had to do battle against focusing entirely too much on myself–talk about depressing! But He continues to bless me by asking the question, “Kathie, will you trust Me in this?” When that happens and I affirm my trust in Him, the clouds immediately lift as I give thanks that I am not alone. What a faithful God we love and serve!

    Liked by 4 people

  47. Dear Bill (and Mary) … you look more like Jesus than you know! Thanks for allowing us a glimpse, dear friend(s)!

    Liked by 4 people

  48. Silvia Lia Leigh, MD

    Dear brother friend Bill! If it is not for your computer in the US and mine in Africa, we were too far apart to smile at each other’s words and to pray for one another. I thank God for your life. I am happy that your blog is not about what you do not know, what you cannot do, but about Jesus Christ, and you in Him. Yes, I see that you can do all things thru Christ who strengthens you moment by moment. Glory to Jesus! I read a nice sentence today and I remembered you. “To lead the orchestra, you have to turn your back on the crowd” (Max Lucado). You are a wonderful orchestra director, very sensitive to each instrument. The crowd may never see your face but it surely loves your spirit sound. Continue to do what you do! Speak words of grace and truth! Many people are encouraged by your ministry. You are not alone! God bless you, brother friend!

    Liked by 4 people

  49. Bill, your post today is so encouraging. It is incredible how God flows through your spirit to bless many. ALS does not define your identity but God does. Blessings to you and Mary.

    Liked by 3 people

  50. Dearest Bill, Tears are a sign of my heart’s union with yours. As I read, the memories of the last three weeks with my dad surfaced. Twenty-six years ago, we shared 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 with him and later at his funeral service. You are so blessed to have Mary to care for you. By the Lord’s grace, she looks past her own needs and ministers to you as “unto the Lord.” “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him.” Even now, we are “being changed into His image from glory to glory.” You are His reflection to us. Blessings for you and Mary as you continue to bless us..

    Liked by 4 people

  51. Such an awesome and inspiring post. You’re such an inspiration to me and so many. Thank you for allowing God to use you to be a blessing to others. 🙏🏽♥️

    Liked by 3 people

  52. Another incredible, Spirit inspired post Bill. Thank you. Even if your body is not working at the level of a Super Bowl champion, your spirit and mind, as they have been surrendered to the Creator, are serving Him as He desires and leads.
    When you stand strong, then by your own choosing, kneel before Jesus Christ in Glory some day in the future, hearing His words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”, I believe there will also be a long, long, long line of people whom you have blessed, waiting to meet you.
    Until then, may our God and Saviour continue to bless you, keep you, and work through you powerfully on this earth. He has not completed His work in and through you yet.

    Liked by 4 people

  53. Great reminder Bill. Like others have said the “renewing the inner man” is so powerful!

    Liked by 3 people

  54. 👍🏻😭🙏🏻❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  55. Love it, Bill! Always, always appreciate your open, honest perspective. Peace to you, and many blessings to you and Mary both!!

    Liked by 3 people

  56. Robert Partington

    Even when you are a mess, you’re an inspiration to so many.

    Liked by 2 people

  57. Thank you so much for these beautiful words! Our outer man is wasting away, but our inner man is being renewed! Even as we see Christ, HE is unveiling more of Himself in us. I needed to hear this reminder today. May the Lord bless you with encouragement as you bring encouragement to so many!

    Liked by 4 people

  58. what a wonderful post, Bill. The ending is exceptional. Because you are made in the image of God and that’s what he sees when he looks at you. He sees beyond the frail body, the wheelchair, etc. and sees love, hope, faith, joy, and determination. Everything that defines a man of God.

    Liked by 5 people

  59. Amen. Thank you for the — as usual — encouraging message, Bill. I love that verse about “the inner man being renewed” daily. Praise God that He sees us on the “inside” rather than the outside.

    Blessings, Bill, as we forge on until our Savior’s glorious return!

    Liked by 4 people

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