The sun is peeking over the horizon as I begin my 30-minute walk on Daytona’s white sandy beach. I enjoy this stroll three or four times a week, but I’m always grateful for the beauty and insights the activity provides. Just two years ago such an endeavor would have been impossible for me. One morning in early June, 2008 I woke up, tried to get out of bed—and couldn’t walk.
I can hardly remember what that morning was like. I was alone at the time—my husband was involved in a complex project in New York, over 1000 miles away. I didn’t try to call him; instead I got out my Bible and prayed.
The first idea that came to me was that God loved me very much and ultimately I would be all right. I was glad to hear this, of course, because my thinking was already tempted by a dozen frightening scenarios. Resolutely, I decided to reject the scenarios; this decision, as it turned out, would be my first step in the direction of recovery. By turning away from thoughts of catastrophic illness, I was able to maintain calmness—a calmness that was necessary to alleviate fear. Much comforted, I decided to stay home that day, rest, and pray.
The second morning I was dismayed to find myself again unable to walk, but I was still not fearful about my condition. God had assured me the previous day that everything would be all right, and I believed Him. After reading the Bible, I allowed myself to curl up in bed with the television on, childlike, just resting. As God’s child, I was protected by his love. I felt cared for and reassured; I was certain my condition would be better the next day.
That night my husband called and I told him what was going on. My husband became alarmed and began to diagnose me: Allergies? Stroke? Food poisoning? What had I eaten recently? I assured him I’d be just fine, and told him he need not interrupt his work or worry about me.
The next day I still couldn’t walk—I’d been dragging myself to the kitchen and bathroom—- but now I wanted to go out. I needed some essentials: orange juice, for example. I couldn’t drive so I called a taxi. God was still telling me there was nothing to worry about, but I figured I should be well fed while I waited for a healing!
On my fourth day in bed, I began to see that I needed to take a different view of my situation, and spent the morning in prayer. Those prayers uncovered a hidden, nagging anxiety: Would I be able to teach my college classes in August, the start of the fall semester? It was now the first week of June. As I continued to pray, a verse from the Bible slipped into mind: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1). I realized I did not have to concern myself with the specific timetable of my healing. All I needed was to trust God completely. God knew I had classes in August, and He would make sure I could teach them.
Now I began to look at my situation differently—-not as a problem but as an opportunity for discovery. I became convinced that I could use this period of time, however long it might be—another day, a week or more—to strengthen and re-orient myself to a stronger reliance on God.
The next morning I woke up feeling peaceful and contented, and my walking was slightly improved. And so it continued throughout the month of June. I stayed in bed, read, prayed and drew closer to God. At no time did I feel any fear. And slowly, slowly, my walking ability returned. With each step, I became more grateful.
I was now positive I’d be able to resume my teaching duties in August, and with this confidence I approached a friend who had been a teacher up until her retirement the previous year. I knew Donna had employed some coping devices in her last years at the high school where she taught, and I thought I might adapt them for college teaching.
Donna advised sitting on a high-backed stool, rather than walking the room as I usually did while giving a lecture. But strangely, even though I managed to get myself into three different stores during the summer, I was unable to find such a stool. I decided if need be I’d conduct class sitting on a table at the front of the classroom.
Then, a week before school started, I had a slight relapse. Trustingly, I headed over to Church. The Scripture reading included a story related to walking; from the book of Acts, it concerned Peter’s healing of the lame man at the temple called Beautiful. Peter tells the man, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). For the rest of that week, I repeated Peter’s words to myself, and by the following Monday, I felt ready to face the fall semester.
…..It was August 25, the first day of class. I had already survived six days of meetings and planning sessions, but the classroom, with students, was the real test. I was sitting on a table, waiting to begin my journalism class as the 30-plus students filed in. I greeted them happily, loving them as I always do. I called the roll, still sitting on the table, then impulsively jumped off the table as I began the lecture. I walked back and forth across the room as usual, asking the students questions, discussing journalism and the issues surrounding the 2008 election. I felt no impediment walking whatsoever.
Now, two years later, on the beach in Daytona traversing the white sand, waves washing over my toes in a friendly fashion, I look back on that summer in gratitude. That was the summer that God healed me of my inability to walk. That was my summer of discovery.
The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press