“I would never go biking.”
Debbie and I looked at one another. The words came from a clerk on the other side of the food counter, young enough to be our granddaughter. Since we were ending a twenty-five-mile bicycle ride clad in the colors of a bumblebee, was she merely questioning our sanity?
“Are you talking about the traffic?” I asked.
“No. I have scoliosis.”
The checker stood erect and looked healthy. With no one else in line, I said, “Me too. Are you stretching and exercising to strengthen your core?”
“It’s pretty bad.”
“Have they measured it?” I asked.
“It’s thirty-five degrees.”
“Mine is too.”
“I have lots of pain,” she said, “. . . in the lower back.”
I told her that a doctor in town had rescued me from pain . . . in the lower back. And if she stuck to the right exercise program, she might find relief and live without limits. In my case, a chronically painful condition all but disappeared. I wish I’d said, “I’ve cycled over 12,000 miles throughout America—and you can too.”
Her dispassionate acceptance of her limitations jolted me. Why won’t she consider a brighter future than the bleak one she—or someone else—had painted for her? That path may offer less resistance today but lead to regrets later.
Growing Up Crooked
Years ago, I was one of the most active kids around. I carried that lifestyle into adulthood, working out regularly and playing any sport I wanted. Exercise was stimulating and restorative.
In my thirties, I had a chest X-ray after becoming ill. When I saw the image, my eyes popped.
“You have a pronounced scoliosis,” the doctor said. “Nowadays, if you were younger, they would operate to fix it.”
Though surprising, the news seemed irrelevant. I had no limitations and was still more active than most people. But when I approached sixty, I began to experience the effects of my scoliosis. With help, I learned that certain exercises and adequate sleep stabilize the condition. Other than seeking help to lift heavy objects, I still live life unrestrained.
Stretching the Limits
What will this young woman’s life become by age sixty? And which condition will have been more debilitating: a curvature of the spine or a vision of the future narrower than the abundant life God wants for her?
All of us have limitations. But do we help establish them? I’m too young. I’m not smart enough. I can’t speak in front of a crowd. I’m not big enough. I’m too heavy. People will laugh at me. I’m too old. So-and-so is so much better at this than I am. And on it goes.
Do you recognize any of those inner voices? If we think we have limitations, what about the challenges of Helen Keller, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Nick Vujicic? They’ve accomplished what seemed impossible.
Reaching beyond life’s limitations has brought excellence in athletics and academics, landed a man on the moon, and enabled advancements that improve the quality of life for the masses. Stretching the limits worships the One who equipped us for good works.
Test your limits. Consider what if… and see if God stretches them beyond your wildest dreams. There’s too much joy at stake to settle for anything less.