Sixty-six years can take its toll on a body. Mine is no longer rippling with the masculine muscularity and animal agility it once knew. Who am I kidding? I was the 97 lb. weakling who got the sand kicked in his face. My point still remains. It is harder for me to keep up the workout I've been doing for fifteen years, it takes more time to get up off the floor, and at least a couple dozen steps when I get up in the morning before my feet don't hurt. My left thumb throbs continually-a big concern for someone who just purchased an upright bass, eager to improve enough to perform in public. My ears have been ringing since I was a child, and last week when we were shooting at Gunday Sunday, I couldn't see with the spotting scope things that others could see with their naked eyes. No wonder my marksmanship is so bad! At least I have a good excuse.
That being said, I refuse to complain. I was talking today with a young man who faces daily much more significant physical challenges than I've ever had. "When I get up in the morning, it's a good day if I can walk," he told me. Yet with all that, he is cheerful and positive, more ready to give than to receive, grateful for what he is able to do instead of grumbling over what he cannot do. Our visit was a reminder to me that what goes on around us is much less significant than what goes on within us. I see people all the time who focus on their problems, all the reasons they can't do this or that, complaining about their lot in life, which is usually far better than my friend's. I think it was Henry Ford who said, "If you think you can't, you're right. If you think you can, you're right again."
Everyone has issues, facts of life that pray as we will, don't change. Learning the difference between a problem to be solved and a fact of life to be gracefully endured is one sign of maturity. Many of us never get there because we see every problem as an obstacle for God to overcome instead of an opportunity for the grace of God to work. St. Paul said it best when he told of asking God three times to take his "thorn in the flesh" from him, only to have God tell him to suck it up because his grace was sufficient. I am thankful tonight for my friend, for the conversation we had, and for the example of faithful living I saw in him.