I have an audiocassette of a sermon by David Ring that he preached during a Moody Bible Institute’s Founder’s Week. He wove the testimony of what Christ did in his life throughout the message. What set his message and life apart from any I’ve heard is that Brother Ring has cerebral palsy.
He shared the tremendous struggles he has had in life. He talked of how the children made fun of his stammering speech and his difficulty in walking. Most of us have had others tease us at some point in our life, but it is likely that very few reading this have ever experienced the mockery that David endured. Children can be cruel and can delight in making fun of anyone, no matter how “perfect” they may be. But let children see someone who has a real physical challenge, and they will swarm to attack like killer bees or sharks in a feeding frenzy. Can you imagine what it would be like to be around children and have great difficulty speaking clearly? What about not being able to run and play like the other children, but instead to have a leg that hinders you from walking normally?
If that wasn’t bad enough, both of David’s parents died when he was a child. I believe his father died first, and David was all the more dependent on his mother. When his mother died, he was devastated. One of his sisters loved him deeply and took him in. She showed him incredible kindness and patience as he was struggling greatly with the loss of his mother and the way others treated him.
School was awful for him, and he wanted to give up. His sister kept encouraging him that he could do it, while others said that he would never amount to anything. I’m not sure of the exact sequence, but he was finally saved. God began working in his life, even giving him the desire to be a preacher. He shared, to my amazement, that other men studying to be preachers would tell him he would never make it. He completed college, married (and now has several children), and travels the U.S. as a full-time evangelist.
Religion may provide some degree of outward conformity, but Jesus Christ not only saves a person from hell, He also changes lives. Jesus Christ can take ashes and make something beautiful. Jesus Christ did a wonderful work in David Ring’s life. He took a man who was full of despair and bitterness and made a new creation. Jesus Christ took a man who was predisposed to a life of failure and rejection, and appears to be using him as a powerful instrument to glorify Himself and challenge others in their walk.
There were several things I noticed in particular from his message that encouraged me as a father. First is the influence we can have on those around us when we are encouragers. It is easy to point out every time our children fall short. The Lord used David’s sister in a mighty way. She believed in her brother and conveyed that to him over and over. When I’m not with my children, will their thoughts “hear” me correct them or tell them they can succeed at something? Are they likely to see Dad as the one who most believes in their ability to succeed? When they think of Dad, does it give them a feeling of assurance? Those are my desires for my children.
Along similar lines are the voices of those who told David he would never amount to anything. Have you ever heard yourself say, “You always . . . ?” I sure have, and I wish I could take back every one of those times. The positive affirmations we make to our children can be quickly forgotten by our negative global statements. If we are going to make a universal statement, may it be one of blessing. “Son, I want you to know that every time I see your face my heart rejoices.”
Everyone on the face of the earth has areas of weakness. As I listened to David Ring, I realized the great need to be extra patient and understanding with the mental and physical limitations of my children. It is easy to let their weaknesses become irritants instead of stimulants for us to bless them more. These are the areas in which they need us most. Yet, those are often the areas where we will lose patience first. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
I suppose the greatest challenge I received from David was his desire to be used of God despite any difficulties he faced. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10). David Ring longs to be used by God for His glory. In David’s physical limitations, God gives grace. David is willing to receive God’s strength and be used as an instrument of righteousness.
For those who are saved, we have been bought with a price, the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). We are no longer our own, but His. We are not on this earth for our pleasure and entertainment, but to serve our Lord. “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men” (1 Corinthians 7:23). We have daily opportunities to serve our families. The needs of our wives and children are to come before ours. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
May each of us take a sincere appraisal of our life. One way might be to review how we spend our time each day. Who or what is it spent on? Are we being obedient to the Lord? Are we serving Him in gladness of heart? Are we serving others outside the church? Are we responding with peace and patience to the tribulations that come our way? Are we welcoming them as opportunities for God to show Himself strong? If not, what is our excuse? David certainly had a good excuse, and yet he chose to be used of God. May we be men of God and let Him be glorified through our willing, cheerful obedience. What is our excuse for not being used of God?