On the Side

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On the Side - January 2016

There Will Be A Test.
by Carol Shrader

The theme park employee asked him a simple question: "Can you hold your head up securely and grab the hand bar for safety?" My son – an 18-year-old with Cerebral Palsy who uses a power wheelchair to ambulate – answered strongly in the affirmative and rolled right through the queue. His dad and I looked at each other a brief second before following.  But as I walked past, the employee turned to me and said, “I’ll have to check once he is loaded.”

My stomach fell. Benjamin can use one hand to drive his wheelchair. He can use one finger on that same hand to type. And he can grasp finger foods with some success at mealtime. But holding on to anything for safety’s sake is impossible for him. Now, don’t think we are terrible parents. Wade and I weren’t risking his life for a ride. We had been on this particular ride before and knew that Benjamin’s safety was not dependent on his bar-holding ability. We knew he would sit between us for stability and that the ride wasn’t even risky enough to require much from us. I would tuck one of his shoulders under mine, and Wade would do the same on the other side. Our strength would be more than enough to ensure his safety.

And yet, apparently some new rule since our last visit would require a test.

We loaded Benjamin (not the easiest of feats) and waited. The team manager came and told him to grab the bar. He did his best. I was frozen in fear that this was all for naught and he was going to be disappointed to miss the only ride he cared about in this particular park.

The manager grimaced before looking at her employees, “That’ll do, he can ride,” she said before walking away.

We all breathed a big sigh of relief, knowing she was showing him tremendous grace.

But as the ride commenced, I couldn’t help but think about the testing necessary to ride a three-minute ride and yet, no one tests any abilities before walking down the aisle.

Can you imagine?

Young (Or not-so-young) man, are you able to hold your wife up no matter how hard life seems? You seem a little shaky – can you prove you are secure in your ability to hold her steady?

Young woman, are you willing to hold on when the road is hard and residency seems never ending? You might not have the heart-support you dream of today, as your husband is physically drained, emotionally exhausted and spiritually bankrupt in the throes of school, training, or even practice. Is your grip powerful enough to hold on in the hard days?

There will be a test.

Doe-eyed and dreamy, I would have done exactly what my Benjamin did if anyone had bothered asking me those questions: I would have answered with a strong affirmative and rolled right down the aisle to be joined in marriage to my guy.

And then there would be the tests, plural. There would be lots of tests. There will be tests of patience, fortitude, endurance and plain old stick-to-it-iveness.

And like my Benjamin, it will only be by grace that I pass.

Because I can be tested, put through the fire and yet rest in the assurance that I know the One who promises to tuck Wade and I beneath the strength of His shoulders and hold us steady in this ride of marriage.

“Though you probe my heart, though you examine me at night and test me, you will find that I have planned no evil….my steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled. I call on you, my God. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.” Psalm 17: 3,5,6a,8

Oh dear ones, our success at marriage is in no way reflective of our abilities to hold on. We physically do not possess the fortitude for the task. Our ability to say “I do” is completely wrapped up in God’s knowledge that He alone can hold us safely on this ride.

I am praying that in 2016 you are filled with the assurance of God’s perfect support!

Carol Shrader

Carol and her family love to travel, see the sights, and yes, ride all the rides. They train for their amusement park endeavors year-round from Jackson, MS where their triplets are freshmen in various colleges around the state and their 10-year-old ensures they will be visiting parks for years and years to come.

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