The Wheelchair or the Throne

paulaharringtonI sat in a middle school gymnasium recently and waited for the band concert to begin. My dwindling phone battery encouraged me to put it away so I stuck it in my purse and began to watch people come in and find their seat.

Some bee-lined straight to their destination, parked it and got comfy or as comfy as you can get on cold bleachers. Others walked in and, like deer in headlights, scanned the room. Slowly, they would make their way to wherever, changing their mind a couple of times before they found their perfect seat.

It wasn’t long before the concert began. Halfway into the first song, a man entered the gym. He studied the large room for a second before he made his way across it and sat on a bleacher next to a young woman and two small children. The boy was a toddler. The little blond, maybe 6 or 7, skipped around her mother, took her dad’s music program out of his hands and climbed into his lap. And I loved that he let her. He didn’t grab the program away and swat her with it. He didn’t block his lap so she couldn’t sit there. He didn’t chastise her for any wrong doing of the day. He just helped her up, put his arms around her, pulled her close and then he hugged her.

Tears came to my eyes as I thought of God. So often, I enter that throne room and climb into his lap. He stops whatever he is doing at the moment to give me his undivided attention. Usually, his mindfulness to me is a lot more focused than mine to him. He wants to hear about my day and my feelings but I’m often too distracted to spend much time in conversation.

While I watched the man and his daughter, I remembered watching my own father. He was already in a wheelchair by the time I was the age of that little blond. ALS had taken his ability to walk. In fact, it was one of his first symptoms. Falling while walking. Wondering if he had tripped on something but knowing he hadn’t. He was 27 in 1977 and, as far as he knew, in relatively good health.

My dad was a minister and his final sermon in the little western Kentucky church building wasn’t standing behind the podium passionately proclaiming the Word of God but in a wheelchair at the front of the congregation and barely able to speak. I knew God would heal him. I had begged him every day and night. He had to and he did eventually, but not in the way I had planned or expected.

For many years, I focused on the father in the wheelchair instead of the father on the throne. I clearly saw the pain, the unknown, the brevity of life, the brokenness and grief of death. Since it is so easy to see what sits directly in front of us, we are often blinded by the anguish that fills our entire view.

It took many decades and buckets of tears before I quit looking at life through that wheelchair and started to focus on the throne. As much as I love my earthly father, he isn’t the one who spoke the Universe into existence. He isn’t the one who said he would never leave. He isn’t the one with the power to heal and restore. The one who holds eternity in the palm of his hand and offers it so willingly is the father on the throne.

Our enemy is an expert at distraction. If he can get our eyes off that throne and on the pain and uncertainty of the world, then we are doomed to walk this life in fear and agony. He knows that and he loves every minute of it.

Think of how courageously we could conquer the pain and grief if we could only stay focused on our Heavenly Father. Think of the love we would have to give. Think of the joy that would fill our lives. Think of the peace that would steady our hearts knowing that nothing can keep us from his love. Isn’t it time we focus on those truths?

Our father, the God of Heaven and Earth the one who saves, protects and gives life is just waiting for us to climb into his lap. He won’t swat you away. He’s not looking for a reason to be disappointed in you. He’s not waiting until you get your act together. He just wants you to come near, tell him about your day and let him lead you through it.

Whether your earthly father is a man of great choices or of evils ones, don’t view the world through his life. Refuse to focus on what you can see and set your minds on things above. Look away from the evil and drama that saturate our lives and fix your eyes on the King of Glory. Only there will you find healing and hope.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

Paula Harrington is the mother of five children and resides in Calvert City. She is compiler and editor of the books, Once Upon a Bible Class, A Common Bond and A Sunday Afternoon with the Preachers’ Wives. Her work has appeared in Christian Woman magazine, the Christian Chronicle newspaper and numerous other sites and websites. When she’s not teaching at one of Marshall County’s finest schools, she’s helping her family at the Calvert Drive-in Theater (and by helping, she means eating the cheeseburgers). She can be contacted at