I recently became aware of a very courageous young man, Lt. Col. Gregory Gadson. In May 2007, he lost both legs when his vehicle passed a roadside bomb in Baghdad. As he dealt with his injuries, he thought his future looked bleak, but he decided not to give up. His grit and determination landed him in the public eye – with positive results.
Assistant coach Mike Sullivan of the New York Giants invited Lt. Col. Gadson to a game. From his wheelchair, Lt. Col. Gadson delivered a pregame speech to the team. Although the Giants had lost their first two outings that year, they went on to win that game – and the 2008 Superbowl.
Lt. Col. Gadson played the part of a double amputee in the movie Battleship. Not only did he take the challenge, but to the amazement of everyone around him, performed his own stunts.
Lt. Col. Gadson considers his primary role to be that of Director of the Army’s Wounded Warrior program, saying, “As a service member, there are a lot of people who have endured what I have, but their paths won’t be highlighted. I want to speak up for them. I know we’re not promised tomorrow. But there is a road ahead.”
Lt. Col. Gadson reminded me of Franklin D. Roosevelt who served as President of the United States from a wheelchair. The limited use of his body did not slow him down nor did it affect his leadership abilities. Certainly mobility adds to enjoyment of life, but it is not life itself. That has been proven daily by many who have limited use or no use of their bodies.
Lt. Col. Gadson is just one of many brave men and women who have fought in our wars and lost their limbs. Others, like him, have demonstrated that their courage was not just in the field of war, but also in the choices they made to continue to live life to the fullest and to contribute to society.
It doesn’t take physical mobility to be able to move on in life. It takes determination and a realization that each day is important. Accepting what has happened in the past and knowing that there may be no tomorrow puts a proper perspective on the present. Like Lt. Col. Gadson, it is good to know that we are all traveling on a path of influence.
Other challenges of the past may include cruelty or abuse, a debilitating illness, a tragedy or any other circumstance that severely limits options. Perhaps our own bad choices caused pain and devastation to others as well as ourselves. Sometimes those memories overshadow everything else, even when circumstances have changed for the better.
How we deal with issues – pleasant or unpleasant – is a choice. We can actually get stuck on a point in our own time line – something in the past that stops us from moving on. When that happens, productivity in the present and subsequently in the future will be substantially curtailed. As has been proven by Lt. Col. Gadson and others, however, that does not need to be the case.
My husband says, “We are not promised tomorrow. We are promised eternity.” He is so right. God makes it clear at any moment we could be called upon to face Him. Tomorrow is uncertain. Eternity is promised to those who trust in Jesus.
...you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away…(James 4:14). “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish (John 10:27-28).