I recently read a book called “I’ll push you written by Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck. The book is a true story about Justin and Patrick who were born less than two days apart in the same hospital. They were best friends their whole lives, they grew up together, went to school together, and were the best man in each other’s weddings. Justin was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease that took away the use of his arms and legs. The friends refused to give into despair or let physical limitation control what was possible for Justin. Justin heard about the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek through Spain, he wondered aloud to Patrick if the two of them would ever be able to do it. Patrick’s response was “I’ll push you.”
One part that I liked in the book is when they hear of a part of the trail that has a steep downhill grade, it has loose rocks that create a dangerous terrain for a wheelchair. They look at the map to find an alternate route, and they find a country road leading downhill to the right. In this alternate route the grass gradually thickened, and now there is a bunch of grass stuck around Patrick’s wheels of the wheelchair. The grass gets thicker the farther they go along. This two hour shortcut only saved them the first 30 feet of the terrain that they were trying to avoid in the first place.
Sometimes this can happen in our own lives where we think that taking the easier path will save us less time, but in the long run it saved us no time, and we should have just gone with the original path that was set in front of us. Shortcuts will only get us off track. The shortcut that Justin and Patrick did, took them two hours to go 30 feet. By taking shortcuts you are saying to God that you can reach your goal quicker your way, than His.” For example God promised Abraham that he would have a son, and have many descendants, but it didn’t happen right away so his wife Sarah told him to get their maid, Hagar, pregnant, and that would be the many descendants. But that wasn’t God’s plan. God gave Sarah a baby in her old age, but Sarah’s shortcut led to problems that lasted for generation (Genesis 15-16)
Someone who didn’t take shortcuts was Noah. Noah could have cut corners when he was building the ark, but when the rain came the ark would have sunk. Noah could have also thought that he didn’t need all the animals and could have just left half of them behind, and the ones that got left behind would be called extinct. But in Genesis 6:22 “Noah did everything as God commanded him to do.”
To reach what God has set out for you, I encourage you to not take shortcuts, and do things as God tells you to do them. Justin and Patrick agreed that they would not take anymore shortcuts.
My very favourite part of the book was the chapter called “Who do you think you are.” Patrick has been very upset with God for two years, that God allowed this disease to take over Justin’s life. Justin and his family came to visit Patrick and his family who lived in Idaho for a week. On Sunday everyone went to church. After the service Justin and Patrick got into a conversation with the church’s associate pastor, Ed, who knew both of them very well. Later, just Justin and Ed were speaking and Patrick overheard Ed ask Justin “if you could receive physical healing right now, would you choose it.” Patrick was certain he knew what Justin’s answer would be: “Of Course.” Justin looked up at Ed and said with authority “no.” All Patrick could think was “wait, he said no.” In that moment Patrick realised that this wasn’t his fight. He had been angry with God for the past two years because the battle he was fighting was a loosing one. His friend was slowly wasting away and there was nothing being done, so focused on his apparent need for healing, Patrick had failed to recognize what Justin really needed. He needed Patrick to step into the real battle. He needed hands and feet, Patrick’s hands and feet. The miracle had already happened. Patrick failed to see that he created a battle that Justin wasn’t fighting.
This is my favourite part of the book because many times people think that someone who is going through a trial in life would want God to take it away in the exact moment, and maybe without thinking the person with the trail would want God to take away what they are going though. But if someone (ex. me) would really stop to think about if God could take pain and suffering out of their life right now, would they want it. My answer is I wouldn’t change anything that happened health wise this year, because I can evidently see God’s grace in my life. Maybe that is the way Justin felt, through the disease that he had, maybe he became closer to God than if the disease wouldn’t have taken over his body. Some people like Patrick may become upset with God and wonder why He allowed sickness/disease to happen to people, and the person with the disease doesn’t think that at all. The person, like Patrick, has created their own battle, one that they are fighting themselves. The miracle isn’t the absence of struggle, disease or pain. It is the presence of grace.
If you haven’t read this book yet, I am encouraging you to read it. It was a book that I greatly enjoyed, and I know that you will enjoy it as well.