When An Alligator Is Under Your Armpit

Nine months ago, our daughter and son-in-law welcomed a five-year-old little boy from Taiwan into our tribe. He wears a perfect smile most of the time, and his eyes light up when he sees a new face. He welcomes everyone into his heart immediately. No one is allowed to be a stranger in his world for more than a pair of minutes. Even the ugliest frowns turn upside down when Myles is around. 

Just two weeks ago, my son and daughter-in-law welcomed a healthy baby boy into the world to grow up alongside their 3-year-old daughter. Contentment is easy for Chapel, which makes rocking him easy for his big sister and sleep possible for his parents. This new little fellow makes our grandparent quiver full of seven well-aimed arrows that have whirled around and successfully hit the softest spot in our hearts. 

Both of these new additions are special in our eyes. That’s a fact! However, Myles has special specific needs. Because of his cerebral palsy, it doesn’t take long to notice his unbalanced gait as he walks across the room. He appears to be running most of the time. This inquisitive little guy persistently explores his surroundings and creatively finds innovative ways to manufacture fun. Thanks be to God that His physical and speech therapists are delighted with his progress.

There is no doubt that both of these boys were fearfully and wonderfully made. Both were created for a purpose. Though Myles’ impairment came about after his birth, it was no surprise to God. He has great plans for Chapel and for Myles. From a grandmother’s perspective, I see a world of possibilities opening up for each of them – opportunities to show overwhelming love, to give amazing mercy, to offer abundant kindness, and to become prime examples of God’s supreme power over any and every obstacle. 

I see those same opportunities for you and me. Maybe you weren’t born into a happy, God-loving family who spurred you on to higher things. Maybe your family is filled with chaos and turmoil at every turn. God can use it all to help you fulfill your purpose. He can turn your dire straits into highways of healing for yourself and others. He can turn your abuse into compassion, your broken home into a refuge, your rejection into acceptance, and your insecurities into humble confidence. 

No one understood that better than Paul. He suffered many kinds of abuse, heartbreak, betrayal, hardships, and imprisonments. Yet, those were the very things God used to redeem his body, mind, and spirit. Even while in prison, Paul wrote, “I want you to know, dear ones, what has happened to me has not hindered, but helped my ministry of preaching the gospel, causing it to expand and spread to many people. For now the elite Roman guards and government officials overseeing my imprisonment have plainly recognized that I am here because of my love for the Anointed One. And what I’m going through has actually caused many believers to become even more courageous in the Lord and to be bold and passionate to preach the Word of God, all because of my chains.” (Philippians 1:12-14 TPT)

Sweet friend, take whatever time you need to look inward only long enough to see what’s what. THEN turn those eyeballs upward and outward. Give God some praise for placing you right where He did at such a time as this. You’ve got some blessings of God to persistently explore! You’ve got some fun you need to manufacture. Sure, your walk may be a little imbalanced. Your gait might not look like everyone else’s, but God has blessed you with a smile that can melt the hearts of even the grumpiest geezers. As pastor Joe McGee once said, “If you feel like an alligator’s under your armpit, and hell’s gettin’ hot, it’s time to get your hands up and start praising God.” Amen?

If I had to find just one passage of Scripture that I wanted to be committed to living out in front of all seven of my grandchildren, I think I would settle on Philippians 4:6-9. I’d like to leave it with you, along with this question: If you lived this out, would you shock your family? 

“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ. Keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always. Put into practice the example of all that you have heard from me or seen in my life and the God of peace will be with you in all things.” (Philippians 4:6-9 TPT)

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Donna Jackson

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