The Light at the Bottom of the Stairs

Tiny Tim's Crutches

Isaiah 11:6: The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat. The calf, the young lion, and the fatling will be together, and a child will lead them.

 I don’t know if you’ve ever wondered where the topics for these devotionals come from. You probably haven’t unless you have entirely run out of things to think about, but sometimes people tell me that they’re impressed not necessarily by the beauty and power of my writing, not more so by the way I could up with a different and (sometimes) suitable topic each week. I frequently hear the question, “So how do you get our ideas, anyhow?”

I’m here to reveal my secret to diversity and engagement when it comes to picking topics. And here it is: I don’t know. Something pops into my head, and I think, hey! that would make a great subject for this week’s message. Then I must write it down immediately, because if I don’t, it departs never to come again. Sometimes I read something or overhear a conversation or see something or have an experience or a memory tugs at me and that’s my topic. I also have a list of about 200 ideas I’ve written down and 750 pieces I can recycle since I figure I can’t remember most of them so why should you? But it’s not these in-house ideas that usually make the cut. I often see something Wednesday, and I hope it’s early in the day and not like this one where I sat down to write it at 6:55 this evening.

Today’s theme was inspired by something I saw as I was leaving after Lieutenant Dan’s Chinese Delivery Service brought lunch to my wife Becky at our church. I was coming back down the steps from her second floor office, which is about the only way down unless you choose to jump out the window but I usually don’t because it’s a long way to fall. At the bottom of the stairs I saw a pair of child’s arm braces propped in a corner of the entryway, and I knew they belonged to a boy about eight years old who goes to Good Shepherd Academy a Catholic school housed in our Baptist church. This childHe walks with that peculiar gait necessary to use arm braces, and I’ve seen him struggle up the steps one at a time on several occasions. He makes it, and usually smiles when he reaches the top.

In addition to the persistence, effort and good humor of this young fellow, I am so impressed by his classmates. They help him without overwhelming him and smile and treat him in such a kind and considerate manner that it often brings tears to my eyes. So, little Conqueror of the Steepest Stairs in the community. I salute you. I salute you for the heroism it takes to get up each day and drag an uncooperative body around with a smile. I salute you for your attitude and for making me smile and tear up at the same time. And I salute you for the lessons you are teaching your whole school about kindness, compassion, courage and persistent. These are the lessons that are more important and world-changing than any academic subject I can think of.

Charles Dickens wrote in “A Christmas Carol” that Tiny Tim “bore a little crutch” to get around because of his unrevealed and most likely undiagnosed condition. Tim leads the cheer at the end of that story with a hearty “God bless us everyone!” and this lad whose name I do not know inspires the dozens of people he comes in contact with every day. A child indeed does, once again, lead us. Amen.

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