With one hand tied behind my back

By Gerry Lewis | Published Wednesday, May 22, 2013

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I am composing this week’s column almost a week ahead of time because I am finally having carpal tunnel surgery on my second hand tomorrow. I’m not interested in trying to meet my normal deadline one-handed.

This time it will be my dominant hand, so I am thinking a little more about what it will be like with one hand out of commission. It was hard enough for a few days last time, and that was my “the only thing I can do well with my left hand is scratch my right hand” hand.

This time, it is my “teeth-brushing, pants-zipping, note-writing, text-messaging and other things I don’t want to mention in the newspaper” hand.

You may have heard (or spoken) these words at some time: “That’s so easy I could do it with one hand tied behind my back.”

As I ponder the next few days, I’m thinking the list of things that I could, or would want to, do with one hand tied behind my back is a really short list.

Two things occur to me as I ponder this dilemma. One is the idea of limitations. My handicap will be temporary and may actually result in the removal of some limitations. But during the handicap, I am going to need the cooperation and patience of people around me to accomplish some basic tasks.

There are people who live with chronic and permanent limitations. They are keenly aware that some basic tasks cannot be taken for granted and cannot be accomplished apart from the cooperation and patience of others. I hope I never forget that. I hope God reminds me to be patient and cooperative and look for ways to lift others up rather than keeping them down.

The second thing that occurs to me is the idea of excuses. There are things I won’t be able to do for a few days. That should not keep me from doing the things I can. Having a hand out of commission does not hinder my prayer life one iota. Having a bandage on my hand does not in any way affect my ability to love and show compassion. The inability to text or write for a few days does not keep me from speaking words of affirmation and grace. Instead of focusing on what I can’t do, I need to focus on what I can do.

In one of my favorite New Testament stories, Jesus said of a particular woman, “She did what she could.” (Mark 14:8). She didn’t worry about what she couldn’t do. She didn’t compare herself to anyone else. She didn’t stop with good intentions. She did what she could. No excuses; just a simple act of devotion.

Our lives matter to God. Seriously. My life means no more or less than yours based on abilities. So let’s just do what we can to honor Him.

Even with one hand tied behind our backs.

Dr. Gerry Lewis is director of missions for the Harvest Baptist Association, which is headquartered in Decatur. He writes a blog at www.lifematterstoday.blogspot.com.

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