The elderly gentleman stood slowly to introduce himself to the group, his stiff movement reminding me so much of similar ones I had seen in my dad.
After one halting start, with great effort he finally lifted himself from his chair and stood with a firm grip on the metal framed chair backs of the row in front of him. His back was to me, so I could not hear his name, but his next powerful words brought a smile to my face and cheers from the group.
“I’m (inaudible name) and I have Parkinson’s. . . but it does not have me.”
That was the beginning of a beautiful blessing I received this week while serving as the accidental speaker for the Parkinson’s support group in Amarillo.
I say accidental because the program chairman, Frank, was in need of a speaker and went to the most logical place to find one- the Yellow Pages.
I don’t have an ad in the Yellow Pages.
The only “speaking” reference in the phone book connected him to a small business development center that’s been coaching me this spring. When Frank called that number and requested a speaker to come address a local non-profit Parkinson’s support group, he reached Brian, my coach.
Since I was the only local speaker Brian knew, he gave Frank my name and Frank called to arrange for me to speak.
Neither of these men knew my family’s Parkinson’s story.
Neither knew daddy died a year ago this week after a twenty-five year battle with the disease.
Neither knew I had a message of hope to share.
But the LORD did.
Through a series of seemingly accidental, unrelated events, the LORD opened the door for me to share with this group of brave, beautiful Parkinsonians (and their caregivers) the beautiful lessons my parents taught me about what Parkinson’s is powerless to take away.
I was the “accidentally on purpose speaker.”
Yes, Parkinson’s takes away so much, especially in terms of mobility, but I talked to the group about how my parents showed me it is as powerless as a wet noodle to take away four things:
- Your chosen attitude (especially your wit and humor)
- Your faith
- Your ministry of presence
- Your ministry of perseverance
I walked away from that meeting feeling blessed. So very blessed.
I pray that it brought a glimmer of encouragement to someone in the group that day as well. If it did, I know it was part of my dad’s legacy of a beautiful life grounded on a rock solid faith in God. I also know that the encouragement received did not happen by accident, but by the LORD’s perfect, on purpose design.
The Pondering Palette: Where have you been sent “accidentally on purpose” lately? I encourage you to share your story with a friend.