What Happened to Me When I Yielded Myself to the Masters Hand
By David Wagner
[I am so glad to have David guest blog for Reagan Review. Here is a man who was a pastor and now lives a very challenging disability. His perspective is helpful as we think about disability and the church. Here is his moving story…]
I am a special person, and it is not because I am disabled. I am special because God chose me to be His son. In accepting His Sonship I also accepted His will for my life. To be honest I would not have chosen the life I now live if I had been given the opportunity. God in His amazing wisdom took a simple pastor of mountain people, and transformed him into a tool meet for the Masters use.
I began serving God in 9th grade working on the buses of Shawnee Baptist Church. For seven years I visited and picked up intercity kids for Church. In my final year of Bible College I was approached to take over New Hope Baptist Church in Kentucky. Over the next seven years God would build me to be a Pastor that He wanted me to be. There were many times when food and diapers were the earnest prayer request. God however was teaching me to be dependent on him.
At the end of those seven years I began to show signs of a disorder that my mom had called Dystonia. Preaching and teaching 4+ times a week and working a full time job began to take its toll. God was moving my heart back home to Beth Haven Baptist Church in Michigan. As long as I was able I wrote the S.S. material for the Elementary classes, and taught the College-age class. My form of Dystonia causes violent muscle movement for 45 minutes to 4 hours. The men of the church were gracious and helped me out of the service when that happened.
Soon the attacks became every service. I talked to my doctor, and found out that they would only get worse. I asked my Pastor to come over, and talk with me. I had to quit it all. I even had to quit going to church. I am blessed to have a Pastor with God’s heart. He understood and encouraged me to live my Christian life from home.
A life of disability is a life of losing things. I lost my job. I lost my ability to drive. I lost mobility. I became dependent on others for many things. For some people, watching me live in pain was too much, and I lost their company. Losing things for me is the hardest part of disability.
The one thing I had not lost was that fact that I was still His son. I also was still a pastor, and God had work for me to do. God had a gift for me. His gift was disability. I would live the life of someone with chronic illness, and He would give me an insight to be a blessing to others who had chronic illness. I have been blessed to publish a book, preach in several states, and talk to people that I would have never had opportunity without disability.
I am not saying you can not be a help to people with chronic illness unless you have it. What God did for me was give me the gift of disability, and the heart to help others. This is my ministry. One of the early lessons that God taught me comes from 2 Corinthians 12:9,10: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
It did not happen overnight, but I began to learn a valuable truth. The grace of God becomes more evident in our lives as we need it. The more we realize that we are weak and He is strong; the more His grace fills our lives. When we come to the place when we realize that the infirmities in our lives are truly His gifts His power can rest upon us. So we are strongest as a Christian when we realize that, (Philippians 4:13) “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” We can only accomplish His will with His strength.
God has firmly let me know that it is not in His will to heal me. My prayer is not for healing, but to be used for His glory. For only by Him using me will my life have value. You may not be experiencing chronic illness. My wife likes to tell people, “Our struggles are obvious, and yours may not be. However God uses different trials to make us who he wants us to be.”
So I close with this. Only by yielding to the Master’s hand will your life have eternal value. The trials of today are but for a moment. How we deal with our trials will have eternal significance.
Forever, In His Service.
(David is a regular contributor on Partners For Gospel. Look for his articles there).