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His hands are twisted and his feet are useless. He canít bathe himself. He canít feed himself. He canít brush his teeth, comb his hair, or put on his underwear. Strips of Velcro hold his shirts together. His speech drags like a worn out audiocassette.
Robert has cerebral palsy.
The disease keeps him from driving a car, riding a bike, and going for a walk. But it didnít keep him from graduating from high school or attending Abilene Christian University, from which he graduate with a degree in Latin. Having cerebral palsy didnít keep him from teaching at St. Louis junior college or from venturing overseas on five mission trips.
And Robertís disease didnít prevent him from becoming a missionary in Portugal.
He moved to Lisbon, alone, in 1972. There he rented a hotel room and began studying Portuguese. He found a restaurant owner who would feed him after the rush hour and a tutor who would instruct him in the language.
Then he stationed himself daily in a park, where he distributed brochures about Christ. Within six years he led seventy people to the Lord, one of whom became his wife, Rosa.
I heard Robert speak recently. I watched other men carry him in his wheelchair onto the platform. I watched them lay a Bible in his lap. I watched his stiff fingers force open the pages. And I watched people in the audience wipe away tears of admiration from their faces. Robert could have asked for sympathy or pity, but he did just the opposite. He held his bent hand up in the air and boasted, ďI have everything I need for joy.Ē
His shirts are held together by Velcro, but his life is held together by joy.
Transition: Is there something in your life that makes you happy? Or better yet, is there something missing in your life, that keeps you from being happy?
HAPPENSS IS NO MORE THAN GOOD HEALTH AND A BAD MEMORY.
I HAVE NOTICED THAT FOLKS ARE GENERALLY ABOUT AS HAPPY AS THEY HAVE MADE UP THEIR MINDS TO BE.
Do you think Jesus was a happy person? I do, I donít appreciate all the movies like Jesus of Nazareth, that make Him out to be a stoic boring man, who never smiled. Was it Jesusí money that made Him happy? Was it his house, job, or was it His wife and kids that made the difference in His life? He had none of the things we as Americans consider to make us happy. Think of the radical change Jesus made when He left heaven and came to this earth. One moment He was royalty; the next He was in poverty. His bed became, at best, a borrowed pallet Ė and usually the cold, hard ground. He never owned any form of transportation and was depended on handouts for His income. He was sometimes so hungry He would eat raw grain or pick fruit off a tree. He knew what it was like to be rained on, to be cold. He knew what it meant to have no home.
His palace grounds had been spotless\; now He was exposed to filth. He was surrounded by perfection, but was now surrounded by illness.
In heaven He had been revered; now He was ridiculed. His neighbors tried to lynch Him. Some called Him a lunatic. His family tried to confine Him to their house.
Those who didnít ridicule Him tried to use Him. They wanted favors. They wanted tricks. He was a novelty. They wanted to be seen with Him Ė that is, until being with Him was out of fashion.
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