A man that lives down the road from my apartment had a stroke several months ago.
His name is Wendel, and he's a story of hope.
Over the last few months, Wendel has been learning to walk again.
First, with the help of a therapist and a walker. He would take the steps from his front porch to about halfway down his driveway, where he could at least feel the cool evening breeze and catch a glimpse of the magnolia tree in bloom. A few weeks later, Wendel was making the walk from his porch to his mailbox at the end of his driveway, still with the help of his therapist, but what an exciting accomplishment!
About a month ago, I turned onto my street after a crazy day at work to find a lady in bright pink scrubs and Wendel pushing his walker, slowly, but surely, right in front of my apartment complex. My heart was thrilled for him.
A couple weeks ago, I drove around the block near my apartment, where I found Wendel taking one step at a time, holding on to that walker, by himself.
No therapist holding him at the waist; nobody coaching him along....just Wendel and his walker.
Today, I was standing at my door trying to decide if it was jeans or shorts weather. I glanced across the street, and saw Wendel rounding the corner by himself with a cane in his right hand. Slowly, but surely, he walks every day- training his mind, and training his legs to do the things that they did for years and years until the stroke.
When I think about Wendel, I can't help but think how frustrating that would be, but I'm also reminded about how Christ gives us the chance to start over in many different ways. Ultimately, he provides the chance to trade a broken, destined-for-hell life, for a complete and eternally awesome one. He also takes specific situations, past mistakes, and past disasters and offers a fresh start.
It's not all fresh evening breezes and blooming magnolia trees, though.
When I watch Wendel struggle with each step he takes, I wonder if he ever feels like giving up on it all.
I wonder if he recalls the days when he could walk to his mailbox without giving much thought to it; without having to focus so intently on getting his right leg to bend at the knee.
The encouraging thing about Wendel is that even through the struggle, he remains focused and disciplined.
It reminds me of what Paul says in Philippians 3.