I Wasn’t Supposed To Grow Old!
Over the last twenty-four years that I’ve had ALS, Mary and I have learned to take one day at a time. But this day, October 5th, is noteworthy because it happens to be my 60th birthday!
I was diagnosed just weeks after my 36th birthday. The prognosis was that I’d be dead before turning forty. My 40th birthday was a big deal. My 50th birthday was a bigger deal. But now I am 60!
“Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34).
Like the manna in the wilderness, God’s grace is only sufficient for today.
Taking this trial one day at a time, with God’s grace and the prayers and help of family and friends, we’ve been able to cope for over 8700 days. If you’re going through a difficult time right now, focus on today, and God will give you new strength tomorrow morning.
“The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
The picture below was taken in 1996, a month and a half after I was diagnosed.
That Christmas was bittersweet. We packed up our minivan and drove to Wisconsin and then Chicago to spend Christmas with my family. While staying with my sister’s family in Wisconsin, I took the first of probably a thousand painful falls.
I woke up before everyone else that Christmas morning and tried to sneak downstairs to get my video camera set up. Apparently, my legs were not fully awake and gave out at the top of the stairs. I rode my tailbone down the stairs and woke up everyone in the house. My tailbone hurt for months. I followed that with a few falls on icy driveways. Physically speaking, it went downhill from there. But, spiritually, I began to grow in faith.
“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18).
Does the above verse include getting ALS at thirty-six, losing your career, becoming paralyzed, unable to eat, helpless and voiceless? A million times, YES!
As the Bible says, our lives are like a vapor that appears for a little while and then disappears. It’s eternity that matters. The more we focus on eternity, the smaller our problems seem.
“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).
As you’ll see in the picture below, sixty years of life and twenty-four years with ALS has caused a lot of decay on my outer man:-)
I often wonder how anyone could have hope, joy, and peace, relying on the temporal things and the decaying “outer man”? More than that, why would anyone want to do this when Jesus suffered, died, and rose from the dead to offer you unshakable hope?
This is what I’m asking God for my 60th birthday gift – that just one person would read this post and make a commitment to follow Christ as I did thirty-seven years ago.
“For God so loved (your name here),that He gave His only begotten Son, that (your name here) believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
“Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever, and this must be either true or false. Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live for ever.” – C.S. Lewis
My siblings and their families planned to come down to celebrate my 60th birthday, but the pandemic put an end to their plans. I still had a wonderful birthday celebration with Mary’s mom, our girls, son-in-law, and grandkids.
To the family and friends who have already sent me birthday wishes and gifts – Thank You! Your messages are humbling. If wealth is measured by the love of family and friends, I am the wealthiest man on earth.