A Gift Unwelcome

Driving away from the Rehab Unit my Favourite Wife was wearing a highly inappropriate, ear to ear grin. She was very obviously thinking that because I now had a wheelchair she would finally be able to push me around!

Once we got the bulky contraption home – the wheels have to come off before it will fit it in our rather small car – I found myself quickly retracing very familiar steps. The first question was where to hide it! My family would soon be coming home so I tried frantically, but the borrowed hospital wheelchair proved far harder to hide than my aluminum crutches had been just 7 weeks earlier. Instead, I struck on a much bolder course! I had dreaded this day for a long time, not knowing when or if it would finally arrive. But the day had come, and it was proving more bearable and less intimidating than I had imagined. Courage seemed to be rising in me, I felt oddly galvanized by the task of engaging in the future. I decided that I would deal with my fear by telling the world. So instead of hiding the wheelchair I photographed it, and posted it on Facebook with a one word caption: ‘Bugger’.

I’m not at all comfortable saying that word! (In fact I’ve deleted it and retyped it several times). It’s not the way I speak, but it’s the right word this time. If I could say it out loud rather than just write it; I would say it with a smile. A grin in fact. I’d say it with a larrikin, knock about conviction. A bit like the Toyota add a couple of years back. A week out from Christmas this definitely isn’t the gift I was hoping for. It’s an unwanted intrusion into my world; but it’s also a challenge. A horse to be broken, a tool to be used. It’s not what I want, but I recognize what I need.

I’ve learned something about Christmas in this ‘gift unwelcome’. In a few days we will celebrate the gift of God’s Son, but for some 2000 years the world has largely rejected the message of Christmas, pursuing greed and self interest instead. Christ is what the world needs, but not at all what it wants. The message of Christ is one of self sacrifice, but our world celebrates with indulgence and excess as if to silence the voice that calls us to walk in Christ’s footsteps: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9).

I must confess that I haven’t tried the wheelchair yet. For two days we have been staring at each other in silent combat. There is a matter to be resolved between us before we can travel the road ahead: who will be in charge? We have been forced together by circumstances beyond our control, and we are unlikely travelling companions. Will I own the wheelchair, or will it own me? It crouches in the corner, trying to intimidate me. But I think I can see the edge of fear in its eyes. I’m almost sure I saw it flinch. I think I’ve got it beaten!

5 Responses to “A Gift Unwelcome”


  1. 1 Andrew December 21, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Love you good friend.
    Just remember if you do decide to take its seat, YOU are riding it, not the other way around!
    Andrew

  2. 2 Marg December 21, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Ha Ha Rod!

    I understood the ‘bugger’ in that most expressive way! It was the idea
    of the vehicle that undid me. Your story of its arrival home is wonderful
    and that enables me to see it through your eyes. It did flinch!! Just
    remember there are speed limits and some uneven surfaces.

    My love,
    Marg

  3. 3 Maureen Shearer December 21, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Am loving all your writings Rod, you have a good grip on life, on words & very firmly on the Lord. With that combination how could you possibly go wrong. Be Blessed man & have a wonderful family Christmas.
    Maurs
    Let us know when you get the chair up to speed…..

  4. 4 Belinda Scott December 22, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Thanks for your beautiful honesty, Rod. Everything is better in the light, just like Jesus tells us. But we find it hard to believe at times.
    I’m in the process of reading “Tuesdays with Morrie”, by Mitch Albom. It reminds me of your thoughts. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s about a fellow with ALS and his journey. It’s full of amazing insight. I think u woud relate. Love to Karen and the family, relish the love of God. Belinda. x

  5. 5 Deb Gould December 23, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Roderick you touch our hearts with the reality of life & doing it in God’s strength. We know you will win the battle & that the chair will give you the ability to keep moving in the physical while God will give you power to keep moving in your spirit. May you enjoy the blessing of those you love around you at this special time of year. Love Deb


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