Lower Seat… October 30, 2012

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I couldn’t reach it.

I had a sudden splash of exasperation mingled with a giggle that stirred together inside my heart. You see, I had wheeled myself into a local grocery store and was shopping around via “the chair” for the first time. About a week ago, I took the leg holders off of the apparatus so that could use my own legs to propel myself, along with the aid my arms. I was doing quite well.

That is, until I got to the lunch meat section and saw that they had 98% fat-free bologna, which ended up being just beyond my grasp. I sat back in the chair for a moment, trying to decide if I wanted to wait for Janet to arrive to reach up and get the prize, or if I was going to figure out how to do it myself.

Suddenly I had this comprehension of one source of both our victories and our failures. Do we step out of the box and try something beyond our present ability, or do we wait for someone more qualified to perform the duty? Great question. It may seem noble to keep trying impossible things and beating your head against the wall, but often you can end up bloodied instead of productive.

I found myself in a lower seat.

You would be astounded at how short you feel when you’re sitting in a wheel chair. After all, your legs are more than half of your height. You start seeing things through the perspective of a five-year-old. Everything at eye level is child-friendly, child-accessible and therefore, eliminates a lot of adult possibilities from your reach.

Now, Jesus talked about “taking the lower seat.” It is one of his stories that gets very little attention, because it appears to be anti-human. After all, don’t people in general want to sit in the highest seats, receiving the highest honors, eating the best delicacies and sensing an ongoing atmosphere of improvement? Who would WANT to take the lower seat? Is it an attempt to appear to be spiritual, when deep in your heart, you resent the hell out of it?

As I sat there in that moment, with the bologna peering down at me, I realized that the power of the lower seat is that you don’t have to advertise that you can do more than you really can. (That’s what makes me shake and quake in my boots when I hear our two Presidential candidates make such broad claims about their abilities and promises about resolving our nation’s conflicts. It is not only arrogant, it is bone-dead stupid.) There is always something that life can come up with to make your original plan seem short-sighted and your talent appear to be wanting.

I realized, sitting in the chair and trying to decide what to do about the problem over my head, that I was alone. No one was paying any attention to me. Matter of fact, the normal profile of individuals who eyeball someone in a wheelchair is to divert their glance. It is an action of politeness–so as not to stare. So I had a full thirty seconds of complete solitude in front of those processed meats, to decide for myself what I wanted to do, sitting in my lower seat, without scrutiny and minus the pressure to impress anyone.

It was magnificent. I understood.

The little story that Jesus tells about taking the lower seat is not a step of false humility–to deny your own abilities–but rather, an intelligent move to take the spotlight off of yourself so you can think through what you want to do, come up with an adjusted plan and achieve your goal without ever looking like you came up short.

My solution for achieving my task was quite simple. I scooted to the end of my chair, reached up with my fingertips, flipped the bologna pack in the air from its holder, and caught it. Actually, it looked like I planned it… rather athletic, if I do say so myself. Problem resolved.

Right now, my friends, I find myself in a lower seat. I have not lost my mind. I have not lost my talent. I have not lost my sense of humor. I have not lost my family. I have not lost the capability of being creative. I have not lost comedy and drama. I have not lost the ability to drive. I have not lost the blessing of going to the bathroom. I have not lost my health. For this particular season, what I have lost is the function of standing tall, walking proud and running the race.

I am in a lower seat. It grants God and those around me the option of calling me up to a higher position. I do not know if that will happen, but in the meantime I plan to have great fun with my shortcoming and the immense gift thrust upon me, to see life from the perspective of a toddler. After all, that’s what Jesus told us we were supposed to do–become like little children. To achieve that we have to do two things: stop being grumpy adults and get a little lower.

I’ve done that.

My trip into the grocery store was an immense success. Counting the movement with my legs and arms, wheeling myself around, I got a great little workout and I took care of the balogna–both the one on the shelf and some it in my own prideful heart.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. You are an inspiration, Jon! Bless you!

    Like


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