I am a person who was born with Cerebral Palsy: I became accustomed to using a power wheelchair at the age of two years old. I do not know anything different than living in my current body which is affected by Cerebral Palsy, so I am usually quite content with it – especially since many obstacles which I face can be overcome with structural or technological adaptations. More than this, when it comes to my responsibilities at work and in my church community I feel very blessed because I know that my God-given gifts are valued and respected.
I recognize that God is at work because in many contexts it is precisely my experience of having a “disability” that enables me to minister to or advocate for others in a meaningful way. However, in order to function in this able-bodied world it seems I am constantly innovating and adapting to find ways to do what most able-bodied people can do. This is often rewarding. However, wisdom and strength are required to discern which challenges to accept and which ones to adapt. There are some instances such as when my functional capacity is limited by a lack of support staff or I must memorize rather than read my notes for presentations that I wish I could do more in the typical way. For me, the domains of faith and disability often intercept.
I relate to 2 Corinthians 5:2 – 4 which says,
“Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (NIV).
In this life there are all kinds of pain and struggles that may alert you to the fact that the Earth in its current state is not the way it should be, from illness or disease to natural disasters and terrorism. Thankfully, as Christians we can look forward to a new heaven and a new earth restored to the perfection that God intended for us to enjoy (Revelation 21).
I don’t quite know what the new heaven and new earth will be like… I wonder if in eternity all of our heavenly bodies will be equipped with similarly improved physical, mental, emotional and relational capacities. If so, then will we lose out on the blessing of diversity? The prospect of an eternity where everyone is fully known and understood by God and one another is more meaningful to me than that of a perfectly functioning body.
There are many ways that we might work toward understanding one another and living into this New Jerusalem. For example, at the Life to the Full conference we will hear from insightful speakers and have the opportunity to talk about the themes of Ability, Belonging and Community. I will be facilitating a panel there as one of the workshops. I would love to meet you, and hope that you won’t miss this unique and valuable opportunity! Please bring your church leaders, teachers and fellow advocates to join me at Life to the Full 2016.
For more information, check out the website at
Workshop spots are filling up quickly, and the deadline for booking hotel rooms at the conference rate is October 3rd, so register today!
Watch the video below to hear why Stephen Bedard believes this conference will be an important time of learning and equipping: