My roommate and I were in the city this weekend. He was about to begin his 12th straight day of working. The past few days had been long, usually between 15-18 hours, he was fighting off a virus (unsuccessfully, and the next morning would see me at the pharmacy to fill his antibiotic prescription), and the weather was frigid. This last part I suppose can be expected in March in New York, but if you are or know someone who is in a wheelchair, you know the cold can wreak some havoc. So it was that on this morning, between the exhaustion, the illness, and the cold, he found himself flat-out unable to drive his wheelchair.
This had happened in brief spurts (ie to get in and out of elevators) a few times already this week, resulting in two things: 1) a very frustrated roommate; and 2) a new hobby for me. Heck yes. Occasionally this also resulted in a third thing – a near-death experience for the poor guy. I wasn’t that bad – it was mostly preemptive nervousness on his part. Still, it’s safe to say that fill-in wheelchair driving is not my calling. But it’s definitely very fun!
This particular morning we were headed in to his job and he realized that he couldn’t drive his chair at all. Not even a little bit. Much as I love maneuvering the joystick (it’s a science. And an art form. And did I mention fun?), I didn’t quite trust myself to do so on the NYC sidewalk in the middle of the morning commute. You shouldn’t trust me to do that either. SO, what we ended up doing was disengaging the motor so I could push the chair from behind. In short, we made the motor chair into a manual one. A very heavy (something like 250 lbs), cumbersome manual one. That now needed to be pushed a whole block. Uphill. Gyms are overrated, people. Wheelchair pushing’s where it’s at.
Anyway, we were halfway there and I was already out of breath (probably because gyms are not in fact overrated, I just don’t go to them very often). Somebody passed us and stopped us. Thinking he needed directions, I stopped, supporting the wheelchair with my body (gravity likes to take things that were rolling uphill and push them back down) while trying to give this guy my attention. And free my hands. I’m Italian and directions aren’t directions unless you’re gesturing.
Instead of asking for directions, the guy started pulling out a CD case with the twin towers on it (not sure why), and asking if he could tell us about something. This marvelous person called Jesus. Right. Well….I commend him for that. I’m all for talking about Jesus to random passersby. But as it happened, I have heard of this Jesus guy before. I was out of body strength, my roommate was late for work, and I’m pretty sure the guy just wanted to sell a CD. I didn’t feel much emanating from him spiritually. So I made my apologies and we continued on our way.
And sure enough, the guy got desperate. “Wait! Don’t you want your husband to walk?”
As it happens, I don’t have a husband. If I did, I suppose I’d love it if he could walk. I’d also love it if he couldn’t. As long as it’s the path God has for us, either scenario is just fine with me. As for my roommate, I’d love for him to walk too. It’s even been prophesied to me that this will happen someday. I’ve witnessed enough healing miracles to know that it’s certainly possible.
What I don’t love, can’t stand in fact, is promising miracles in order to get people to shell out their money for things they may not understand. I also don’t love using evidence of people’s problems as a means to guilt trip them. If this is what you’re doing for Jesus, somebody is leading you in the wrong direction. Jesus is about love first. How does either of those things help you love on somebody? It may be you’re supposed to pray for someone for a healing or a miracle. But in those cases, you pray first. You don’t make a pitch.
The whole thing left my roommate more frustrated than ever, keenly aware of his physical shortcomings, and annoyed with “Jesus freaks” everywhere (not his real words; I’m embellishing). Pretty sure it undid a few months worth of godly influence too – he hasn’t asked to pray much since then.
The moral of the story is God doesn’t need a sales pitch. He just needs our obedience to His plan and His timing. I’m not saying to be timid in approaching people. Not at all. But be discerning. Ask God for the words. Ask God for wisdom and guidance in your actions, and ask for His heart and His love for the person you’re about to talk to. Once we’re all doing that, let’s see some genuine God-given miracles! ….and not some guilt trips or sales pitches.