“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Tuesday, May 23, 2023


There is a short passage about Jesus in the book of Hebrews that I love: “In the days when He was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered; and when He was made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:7-9) 

Loud cries and tears of our Lord were heard in the Garden of Gethsemane to the One who could save Him from the agony of crucifixion and death. “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from Me, but not what I will but what you will.” (Mark 14:35-36) 

Christ’s sweat was as blood as He earnestly prayed and contemplated his pending passion, unspeakably cruel death by crucifixion, and being forsaken by God for our sakes as He would hang dying on the cross. The One who could save Jesus from death did not save him from death but overcame death in Christ’s resurrection! Christ’s perfect offering at Calvary gave the only path to reconciliation of sinful humanity back to God. 

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was, and remains, a perfect offering; it fulfilled the law. It put aside the requirement of the old Mosaic covenant by which the blood of lambs, goats and bulls were offered to God by a Levitical priest. 

I was diagnosed with aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1984. Terrifying neurological degeneration and progressive paralysis put me in an electric wheelchair for many years. My legs withered from disuse. A completely wheelchair accessible home was built for me. (This was a miracle in itself because I have always lived with limited financial resources.) 

I found great hope in the obedience Christ learned from suffering—as Hebrews says. I believed that my suffering could teach me obedience to Christ to overcome my stubborn and stiff-necked nature. I had to learn to accept suffering and relinquish my self-will and place my pain into Christ’s scarred hands. 

This was the beginning of spiritual contentment regardless of my human circumstances. For me to accept suffering meant an understanding that nothing in my life escapes God’s will and desire for my ultimate good. I had to accept the mystery that my pain was/is achieving perfection in Christ that can only be fully realized in eternity. It is part of the weight of glory that comes with being endowed with the image of God. 

Saint Paul put it this way: “Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2Corinthians 4:16-17) 

The grief of my slow and torturous creeping paralysis seemed insurmountable at times. But I knew it was insignificant compared to the eternal results. I believed then, as I do now, that my suffering was transforming me, in some small, to be more like Christ. This belief gives meaning and context to the suffering that occupied more than half of my life. 

In 2018, after praying that if it be God’s will that I would be allowed to get out of my electric wheelchair to stand and walk again—even with crutches, a walker, or canes. It was a similar prayer to many I had prayed throughout the decades of physical degeneration. Something was different. 

God raised me from my electric wheelchair to stand and walk again. Was it a miracle, a sign, or both? I was raised to walk as an old man. Was it a miracle for others who have only known me in an electric wheelchair—a testimony of God’s hand in actual people’s lives? It was an affirming sign to me of what I believed and knew for close to 40 years. God has been with me. 

Five years later, I’m still walking, sometimes with a cane, sometimes without it. Granted I have a limp. Why wasn’t I completely delivered? Does it matter? The legs that were once paralyzed now walk. The arm and hand that were virtually useless for a quarter of a century now write hand-written daily love letters to my wife of 50 years, LaRee. 

What if I must return to my wheelchair? Why should I complain? I have walked just as I asked. I will still praise God. He gave me five good years. I even danced with LaRee in our living room one cold winter night—the first time in decades. We cried as we held each other; our darkness of fear fell into a dawn of love’s new light. 

I turn 70 years old. All is well, all is well. Our future is in God’s sovereign care. All my whys have been answered in the love of Jesus Christ.