I have discovered that some people think that because I am retired and (according to the government) not “gainfully employed,” and because Im disabled with little strength and energy, I don’t do much. If they mean I don’t go to movies and football games; play golf, bowling and pinocle; chat for hours with people who have nothing substantive to say; or play computer games, then true, I don’t do much. In fact, I don’t do any of those things. Rarely does a good energy time coincide with a friend’s so we can go to lunch, even. Some days it takes all my energy to just clean, dress and feed myself.
But when I have enough energy left over from the necessary tasks, I invest in young lives for the sake of God’s glory in their generations and for eternity. I put my strength into things of eternal value.
That IS being gainfully employed, is it not?
This morning a local TV station aired a story about today’s Iron Man contest in Couer d’Alene, Idaho. One of the athletes is a blind soldier. He lost his sight to shrapnel from a car bomb blast in Iraq. For some weeks afterwards he felt angry, useless and hopeless. How that changed is another story, but it did, and he was about to run his first Iron Man. How? Tethered to his brother-in-law, the same way he trained for the race. His wife’s brother, a successful Iron Man, knew exactly what this soldier needed to do to train, and knows the guts it takes.
They trained and raced tethered together at the wrists by a short rope. What struck me is what the soldier said: “I am free when I am tethered to him. I never imagined I could be this free.”
He is free when he is tethered because the one he is tethered to has successfully gone through this before. He knows the push, the emotional ups and downs, the fear of failure and the joy of success. He knows exactly how to lead his blind brother-in-law. He can be implicitly trusted.
What a picture of Jesus and me. I have always been blind to the way ahead. It was impossible for me to succeed at the wild dreams in my heart. Impossible unless I stay tethered to the One who has gone through it all before me, and won. Who knows exactly how to get there with success. I am free because I am tethered.
My mission agency, World Team, has put the 22 minute video, “Bad Legs” on their YouTube channel. It’s a very short summary of God’s story in my life – a whole lot shorter than my memoir will be! The p,oject was not my idea originally, but I’m glad that it was done. The video can go places and reach people I can’t. See it at
Tomorrow the 22-minute video, “Bad Legs – Elinor Young, a Missionary Story” will be launched by my mission agency, World Team. See the one-minute trailer at:
I wasn’t sure this radio still existed, but I found it among things stashed away from my childhood. My aunt gave it to me in 1952 during the seven months I was in the hospital recovering from polio. In those days hospital culture was such that even parents’ visits were strictly limited to a few hours a week, and the hospital staff was so overwhelmed with polio kids that there was no time left to entertain us. Not even to read to us. And of course there was no TV. For a five-year-old who could only lie there and not move a thing, life was pretty boring. When it was clear I would survive, and after the third month, when I began to be able to wiggle toes and fingers, maybe as incentive to try to move more? Aunt Martha sent this radio with my parents. I did become able to reach it, turn it on and tune it in. I memorized the time and place all the children’s programs were on. It was huge in my little world. I’m keeping it.
One of the things I love to do the most is talk to the next generation. Usually that is in a college class setting. Whatever the venue of a presentation, it takes some days to get my body ready, and some days to recover, but I am SO grateful I’m able to! Helping to spark, stimulate or encourage another generation of future missionaries to persevere and go is a use of my limited energy that will last for eternity. What can top that?! I am already getting ready for a road trip into Oregon in September to speak at a Christian university. Fun!
This photo was taken shortly after my seven months in the hospital recovering from Polio. I was learning to walk using parallel bars on a ramp built by my dad off our kitchen porch. I felt as pleased with myself as I look in the picture.
But it’s about more than that.
I am not a parent, but reflecting back over my life, I am blown away by the power of mother and father love. I was just one of five kids, but my mom spent two hours a day doing physical therapy on me, and my dad built for me equipment they could not afford to buy. They were such models of a “can do” attitude that for years it didn’t dawn on me that there was any other kind! How MUCH I admire them – both in Heaven now.