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.
March 23, 2008 (Easter Sunday)
I’ve been excited for days. Special friends were going to (and did!) join me for church this morning and for lunch afterwards. Not special because we see each other often. In fact, I haven’t seen them for years. Not since I left Papua 17 years ago, except for Barb. The guys of both couples were pilots who flew other missionaries like me across the vast swamps and over the dangerous mountains. There were not many of us non-indigenous folk and we needed each other. Pilots depended on accurate weather reports from us on the ground. More than one died due to bad weather conditions in the mountains. We depended on them to get us safely in and out of the little outposts where we worked.
In a dozen other ways, no matter what our role we had each other’s back; supported each other. That dependency alone is enough to forge deep ties, but there was more. Something even deeper and stronger. We had the same supreme purpose, no matter what our specific task was. Whether pilot, translator (like me), community developer or whatever – we were there in answer to Jesus’ commission to “make disciples of all nations.” (See Matthew 28:18-20) We didn’t speak about it much, but we understood that we all felt the same joy and fulfillment of a purpose that outweighed the risk and what others would call hardship. That is a very, very profound bond indeed.
If you are not a classic Christian as I am, this may sound a little strange. Other-worldly. Doo-doo, doo-doo. Bizarre. Wacky. I happen to believe, though, that far from being wacky, it is as true as it gets. That authentic reality is found is found only in the perspective that relationship with Jesus gives. Here I could launch into my rationale for saying that. I won’t, but I will invite you to contact me (click on “comment” below) if you’d like to talk about it. Doesn’t have to be publicly posted. Or you can read a story I wrote that relates to this. It’s simply called “Life!“. Check it out!