Grandpa’s Limp

I thought I had written about my Grandpa Blackburn – Poppy to his family – but I can’t seem to find the post. But it’s worth repeating even if I have. He came to mind as I’ve listened to the coverage about the people recovering from the bombing in Boston, hundreds of people injured including some who needed amputation.

My grandfather – Olin Joseph Blackburn – limped most of this life. Only near the end of his life did he have a hip replacement surgery to correct his limp. I didn’t know why Poppy limped. He just did.

When Poppy was a child he contracted polio. In earlier generations polio was a much-feared disease and still is in some parts of the world. The polio left Poppy with a leg that didn’t work as it should. The family history is that his mother made him walk. They were tenant farmers and if you couldn’t walk you couldn’t work. In her mind a boy who couldn’t work didn’t have much of a future. So she made him learn to walk. He overcame a huge physical roadblock to have a good life and work at good jobs including decades as a stationary engineer. No coddling. No excuses. She just made him walk.

That walking left him marked with that characteristic limp. Which brings to mind another person who limped – Jacob (Genesis 32:22-32). Sometimes our adversity in life leaves us with a limp, a mark. Sometimes those marks are not physical like Poppy’s or Jacob’s but behavioral or mental. They are just as real.

Sometimes we seem to promise people in the church or out of our individual faith that God will take away all our hurts. But sometimes our healing leaves a scar, a limp, a mark. They remind us that our healing in this life is always incomplete and imperfect. And our limps- internal as well as external – tell the world that we have wrested with God as Jacob did and that we overcame that adversity.

Thank God today for the limps and scars and marks that say you have overcome!

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