Lifelines May 16, 2021

Life didn’t start out well for Patti Wilson.  She was diagnosed in her early years with epilepsy.  Her dad was a jogger, and she really wanted to jog with him but feared a seizure.  He assured her that he knew what to do if that happened and persuaded her to run with him.  She fought through the fear, strapped on her running shoes and changed the world.

She loved it and had no complications.  She enjoyed it so much that she began setting goals.  Her first goal was getting out of her front door, but once she began running there was no stopping her.  She set her sights on running further than any woman ever had.  The record was 80 miles.  It was an ambitious goal but not too big for Patti.

As a high school freshman, she determined to run from her home in Orange County, California to San Francisco and she did.  That’s 400 miles!  Her sophomore goal: Portland, Oregon more than 1500 miles and she did it.  As a junior, she headed to St. Louis about 2000 miles.  Again, she succeeded.  Finally, as a senior she planned to run to the White House more than 3000 miles away.  It took more than four months and she accomplished that one, too, where she shook hands with the president. 

How could an epileptic accomplish so much?  We might say grit and determination, goal setting and focus.  A desire that pushed her, and an attitude that helped her.  As far as her physical condition is concerned, she said that epilepsy was simply “an inconvenience.” She refused to be held back, and ultimately raised enough money to build 19 multi-million-dollar epileptic centers across the country.  Quite an accomplishment for someone who faced such a substantial challenge from the beginning.

Hers is a remarkable story.  Is ours?  We have placed ourselves in the Lord’s hands, and there are “inconveniences” in our lives, too.  What do we do with them?  We have options.  We can view them as reasons to quit or challenges to overcome. The Israelites came to the edge of the Promised Land and refused to claim the promise because they were afraid.  Fear drove the disciples behind closed doors (John 20:19).  Patti could have allowed her concerns about having a seizure to keep her indoors, but she listened to her father and has inspired epileptics ever since. Listening to our Father will open our eyes to amazing possibilities. 

Paul experienced extraordinary ups-and-downs in his life.  Through it all, he learned that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him (Philippians 4:13).  So can we.  Imagine what great things we can do with the Lord.  The message of her upcoming virgin birth stunned young Mary, and the angel assured her, “Nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37).”  It still isn’t.  It’s time to strap on our running shoes.