Being a physically disabled Christian often requires responding graciously to assumptions that my able-bodied brothers and sisters in Christ make. One friend envied all the extra time I have to study God’s Word (never mind that everything takes longer and my Personal Care Attendant schedule limits the hours I have on my computer). Countless people think of me as a prayer warrior (never mind that I struggle more with prayer than any other spiritual discipline). And almost everyone assumes I wish I could walk (believe me, I’d much rather be rid of my speech defect).
But the assumption that most bothers me is that I can’t wait for my resurrection body.
Friends often talk about having foot races with me in heaven. They envision me pushing them around in wheelbarrows (as payback for all the times they pushed me around in my manual wheelchair), and they anticipate dancing with me or wearing me out on a celestial tennis court. And I appreciate their desire to see me free of my Cerebral Palsy, with all its muscle tension, skeleton distortions and limitations. Of course my resurrection body will be a wonderful relief after my earthly lifetime as a quadriplegic.
I am looking forward to having a glorified body, but not so that I can run and leap and dance. As wonderful as those things may be, I believe they will take a very distant second to the real joy of heaven.
Revelation 5:6-14 is my favorite description of heaven. Please click this link and read it. You’ll find no mention of healed bodies or formerly disabled people playing tennis, but you most definitely will find multitudes praising the Lord Jesus Christ, centering all their attention completely on Him. You’ll find adoring declarations of His worthiness to receive honor and glory because of His work on the cross.
Our resurrection bodies certainly will be liberated from physical weaknesses, but that liberation has a purpose far beyond our physical comfort. Ultimately, our resurrected bodies will be free from the corruption of sin.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. ~~Romans 8:18-25 (ESV)
Recently, a friend of mine remarked to me that once we have our resurrected bodies we will be able to worship the Lord without mixed motives. No more wondering if others see how spiritual we look. No more trying to manipulate Him into giving us what we want. Our glorified bodies will enable us to worship Him in total purity, with no sin polluting our praise.
I don’t really care about being set free from my disability in heaven, though I know I’ll praise the Lord for that blessing as well. I eagerly await a resurrection body no longer infected by sin. A body free to praise the Lord Jesus Christ with pure motives. A body that can stand before His glory and holiness without flinching in shame. I long to see His face.