Hanging from our car’s review mirror is a blue handicap parking placard for Gracie. In bold letters across the bottom it states, “Permanent Disability.” Over the last several months my eyes have been drawn to that word “permanent,” and it just seems to irritate me.
Man’s view (in this case, the state of Tennessee) classifies Gracie’s physical situation to be irreparable for the rest of her life, but that opinion is limited to our understanding of life. For a season, Gracie must endure painful realities in her life, as do we all. Hers is more extreme than most, but should we all live long enough, each of us will eventually be classified by conventional standards as “permanently disabled.”
As Christians, however, we hold a different belief. The Bible teaches us that this is not the end of the story, and Gracie’s situation (as well as yours and mine) is only for a season as a result of this fallen world. In fact, one could argue that we are all born with a “permanent disability” and are forced to live with dire circumstances until we acknowledge our condition and present ourselves to God and ask him to re-classify us from permanently disabled to permanently restored.
That reclassification is an inward one that in time will be demonstrated outwardly. In the book of Isaiah, we are told that, “…they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up on wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”
What about the rest of us?
It is important for us to recognize that the promise is for all of us. Right now, I have a relatively healthy body, but what will it be in thirty years? One day, I will struggle with the results of age, and will feel more of the pain that Gracie feels now. Instead of waiting to feel infirmed, I think I will go ahead and affirm that our whole condition is disabled and start living the promises of God in my life now.
For we know that when this tent we live in now is taken down—when we die and leave these bodies—we will have wonderful new bodies in heaven, homes that will be ours forevermore, made for us by God himself and not by human hands. How weary we grow of our present bodies. That is why we look forward eagerly to the day when we shall have heavenly bodies that we shall put on like new clothes. For we shall not be merely spirits without bodies. These earthly bodies make us groan and sigh, but we wouldn’t like to think of dying and having no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will, as it were, be swallowed up by everlasting life. This is what God has prepared for us, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 5:1-5