Monday, February 08, 2010

UNQUALIFIED

A few day's ago I put up as a status on my Facebook Wall the following:

Think of all the ordinary people He has used to turn the world upside down. But also consider how utterly unqualified so many of them were.

Noah got DRUNK.
Abraham was too OLD.
Jacob was a LIAR.
Gideon was AFRAID.
Rahab was A PROSTITUTE.
Jeremiah and Timothy were considered TOO YOUNG.
David had an AFFAIR.
Moses was a MURDERER.
Elijah was SUICIDAL at one point.
Jonah RAN FROM GOD.
Peter DENIED CHRIST.
The Disciples FELL ASLEEP while PRAYING.
The Samaritan Woman WAS DIVORCED five times.
Timothy had AN ULCER.
John the Baptist ATE BUGS.
And Lazarus WAS DEAD!
So what's your excuse?

I should like to credit the author of this which was not me, but Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries.

However, what follows are my thoughts as a result.

The list of biblical people used above is impressive – there is only one other example that springs to mind and this particular person tried to use this “weakness” as an excuse, a cop out from service with of the King, but whose application for exemption refused. DO you know who I am speaking about? If you said Moses, you are spot on. He is listed above but not for the thing I am about to mention. Let us look at the Word of God together:

“One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn't burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn't that bush burning up? I must go and see.”
When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”
gHere I am!” Moses replied.
“Do not come any closer, the LORD warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are stading on holy ground. I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:1-6

What follows is God's call of Moses to “active service. In the discourse I read three times, “but Moses Protested” (Ex 3: 11, 13, 4:1) and then – in Exodus 4:10

g
But Moses pleaded with the Lord, 'O Lord, I'm not very good with words. I never have been, and I'm not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue tied, and my words get tangled.'
Then the Lord asked Moses, 'Who makes a person's mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak and I will instruct you in what to say.'
But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”

So, it would seem that in God's eyes – Disability does not mean Inability. Last night, on Dancing on Ice, Heather Mills was voted off after many weeks of successful participation in this challenging figure skating competition. It was all the more challenging for Heather, for as you may know, she has one prosthetic leg.

I quote from the website:
In 1993, Heather lost the lower part of her left leg after being hit by a motorbike while crossing a road.
One of the main reasons Heather is doing the show is to give children with the same disability as her the inspiration to do things they might not think they're capable of.
I could point to other examples of people who overcome amazing odds to achieve something that others might believe was not possible. Sir Douglas Bader was British WWII hero who despite having lost both his legs in an accident in 1931, continued in 1939 in the Royal Air Force and he was shot down and taken as a prisoner of war by the Germans. I remember as a child watching a film about him and being very inspired.

Now I am going to share about a person I have only just found out about – as a result of a search on the Internet for the phrase: Disability does not mean Inability. His name is Emmanuel Osofu Yeboah. This is a young man who overcame terrible odds as disabled person in Ghana and proved that Disability does not mean inability. Please look at the following trailer of a film called Emmanuel's Gift.



Coming from Africa myself, I am aware that by and large there is a huge misconception about people with disabilities. Rather like Emmanuel's father, who seeing that his son was disabled at birth – ran away, many people have no understanding of disability. Young people with learning disabilities tied to trees or kept hidden away. I have no doubt that there are other parts of the world that have similar backward ideas. However this is not a rant against bad treatment of people with disabilities, but it IS about people rising above the odds and achieving when everyone (sometimes including the people themselves) says they can't. More importantly, it is a very Christian message about how God, is no respecter of persons – God does not discriminate against the disabled – why should we? It is also, how God can and does use people that some may think are 'unusable'.

Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith and your purity. (1 Tim 4:12)

Paul's encouragement to Timothy was to not let anyone look down on him. That's the key. Part of that means believing in ourselves. God accepts no excuses, so it is onward and upward my friends.

During my training as a teacher, in studying about Inclusive Education, we learnt the phrase “Children with barriers to learning” (BtL) – but as I came to discover through the course material and through experience, Barriers (not only to learning), can and are overcome.

It is interesting that in a hurdles race, that it is the finish line that is important and not the hurdles on the track. While an athlete should try and clear the hurdles it is not the clearing of the hurdles that wins the race but crossing over the finish line first. It may be that we may have to find another way achieving what we set out to do, or what God has called us to do, but achievable it most certainly is.

If we read on in the story of Moses, God had was by no means surprised by Moses supposed inability to speak, and he provided him Aaron, his brother as a spokesman. Moses, despite his 'inability to speak' lead the people of Israel out of the bondage slavery in Egypt to the promised land.

I called this blog UNQUALIFIED - We live in a Qualifications-obsessed world. Although only a small minority of people actually go to university and earn degrees, it seems that every job one does needs some qualification. It doesn't stop there - now, a basic degree does not suffice - one needs to have a Master's or a Doctorate. Teacher's used to be trained in teacher training colleges and get "an education diploma" - but that no longer cuts the mustard - now there is talk of needing a master's degree.

Sorry for the little rebellion here, but given the high rate of employment, especial Youth Unemployment, (Remember 1 Tim 4:12) it is hard for young people who put in the offort over 3 or 4 years to attain their degree - while building up a debt of a student loan, to also realise that they may actually have no job at the end of the day. Okay - that's my politics out of the way

Qualifications Driven World we live in often disdains the "uneducated" - while paying lip-service to the notion of equality. This Qualification Driven World is very quick to tell people "You Can't" - they may couch it in more flowery speech and may try and distract you from your goal and tell you that you don't need to do whatever it is you have set your heart on doing or you feel called to do. They may want to keep that person with learning difficulties in sheltered employment - being kept busy with nothing of importance when that person has a vital role to play in society in ways we cannot begin to imagine.

What hurdles face you in your quest to achieve that which you set out to achieve - they are there to be overcome and you can overcome them - it may be that you face barriers in life - things that get in the way. They may be, as I have talked about here, physical or learning disabilities, they may be economic circumstances you find yourself in, they may be any number of challenges, but all of them are able to be overcome. You may be like Heather Mills, or Emanuel Osofu Yeboah or Douglas Bader (all of whom were/are amputees - this was not deliberate - it is something I have just noticed) or have have other challenges - and it means you have do things a bit differently, but no less gracefully or beautifully. I think the biggest barrier we need to overcome is ourselves and our own defeatist mentalities. We need to believe in ourselves.

When I was 11 or 12 I remember, reading a bumper sticker on my headmistress' car - Disability is not Inability. I had certain challenges and BtL to overcome - with the help of dedicated teachers I did, and it is now my dream to see many more young people achieve theirs.


2 comments:

John said...

Went with a friend to watch a contemporary dance at the Royal Opera House. It was called God's Garden. It was a beautiful dance and one of the dancer's was a blind man .

The man went blind when he was 24 and subsequently learnt to dance. I was really impressed with his performance.

On BBC they have just started a show called dancing on wheels which is about people learning to dance with wheelchairs.

On the new TV programme, Glee, one of the dancers is wheelchair bound.

It delights me to see the higher profile of disabled people participating in what would previously regarded as 'off limits' field of dance.

Plumbline said...

Disability is not inability..stirring piece you put up, bro