The Little Cripple and the King
This could have been a very sad story but (stay with me here) it has a happy ending. I recently had the special privilege of bringing the message at a dear little cousin’s funeral. He was crippled from birth. He was destined to spend his life as what some people would define as ‘severely handicapped’. With that in mind, as I was contemplating the circumstances in which he lived, and preparing for the celebration of his life, my mind was inexplicably drawn to a short declaration in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are …created equal.”..
Created equal? How could that be? How could my little cousin with his deformed body ever be considered equal while living within the limits of his handicap? In my mind he could never be equal. As I was looking back over all the inequalities in the hand he was dealt, I began to enumerate the many things he was never able to do—things we sometimes take for granted.
He was never ever able to run and play with other kids;
never able to throw a ball or jump a rope.
He could never learn to ride a bike nor have a paper route;
He would never have a girlfriend, nor a date, nor experience his first romantic kiss
He was never able to learn to drive a car;
never leave the nest…. never go out on his own.
He was never even able to tie his own shoes.
Some skeptics might even declare that God was having a bad day when He wove my little cousin’s body together in his mother’s womb—surely God must have made a mistake when He created such a deformed little body. There are those who would have suggested that he should have been ripped from his mother’s womb early in her pregnancy and disposed of rather than spend a life of near total dependency. Surely, to them he would be a considered a curse rather than a blessing—an albatross around his parent’s necks. He was destined spend all his latter years (here on earth) in a wheel chair—always at the mercy of a care-giver. In the eyes of many, he could have easily been a perfect candidate to curse God and die.
Surely we would all agree that if that was the end of his story, it would obviously be a sad, sad story indeed. But as sad as it may seem to us, I’m happy to report that was certainly not the end. As a matter of fact quite the opposite is true. As unfair that may seem to us, Almighty God wasn’t having a bad day when He wove that dear little cousin together in his mother’s womb. As God told Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” He even had a perfect plan for our little buddy,Ron, just as He has for each of us.
As far as we know Ron handled his handicap with ‘amazing grace’. As such he was one of God’s most faithful witnesses. Rarely, if ever, did he bemoan his station in life. He always seemed to be a ‘happy camper’. He was perfectly content to sit and listen to Gospel music all day. He rarely ever wallowed in a pity party—rarely ever displayed a poor pitiful me attitude—never seemed to harbor any bitterness. I would guarantee you that he never ever wished to curse God and die. Such a thought would never enter his mind. I would venture that he loved God with all his heart His life was an inspiration to all of us who came in contact with him and all who knew him loved him. The grace with which he lived should be a sermon to all of us.
Contemplating Ron’s station in life I’m reminded of a beautiful story in the Bible illustrating how our loving King of Glory has a soft spot in His heart for special needs persons.` (Isn’t it interesting how the Bible always has an encouraging word for any and all no matter our station in life.) We find one such story of a little crippled child in the ninth chapter of II Samuel. His name was Mephibosheth; he was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. When Mephibosheth was only five years old, both Jonathan and King Saul were killed in a fierce battle. When the little lad’s nurse heard the horrible news, she picked him up and fled—fearing for his life. But as she hurried away, she dropped him, and he became crippled for life.
Soon after King Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle, David, the little shepherd boy turned great warrior, became king of all Israel. One day King David asked, “Is anyone in Saul’s family still alive—anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” He summoned a man named Ziba, who had been one of Saul’s servants. Then the king asked him, “Is anyone still alive from Saul’s family? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them.” Ziba replied, “Yes, one of Jonathan’s sons is still alive. He is crippled in both feet.” So he sent for him. When he came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect. David said, “Greetings, Mephibosheth.” To which Mephibosheth replied, “I am your servant.” And David said, “Don’t be afraid!”. “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king’s table!” Mephibosheth respectfully exclaimed, “Who is your servant, that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?”
Then the king summoned Saul’s servant Ziba and said, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and servants are to farm the land for him to produce food for your master’s household. But Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, will eat here at my table.” (Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) Ziba replied, “Yes, my lord the king; I am your servant, and I will do all that you have commanded.” And from that time on, Mephibosheth (who was crippled in both feet, lived in Jerusalem and ate regularly at David’s table, like one of the king’s own sons.
When we took our final look at Ron’s deformed body, we had to realize he wasn’t there. No Siree! He’d moved out! He now lives in his new perfect body, and in a beautiful new home, wearing a crown of never-ending glory and honor. And he’s eating regularly at his Heavenly king’s table—like all the rest of the king’s sons. He is now indeed equal to all who are sitting at our Heavenly King’s table!
Hmm, now that I think about it, he might even greater than equal. In the eighteenth chapter of Mathew we read, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus answered, “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (verse 4).”
In memory of Ronald Gayle Watkins
1943 – 2015