"Wrestling with an Angel" The Book

Wrestling with an Angel is also a book endorsed by Joni Eareckson Tada, Noel Piper, Russell Moore and others. It is available in print, audiobook, and a variety of ebook formats. Learn more about the book here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Where Disability Becomes Amazing Grace-Ability

“One word does well to summarize the day in and day out of families of people with special needs – RELENTLESS. Think about that word, what does it speak to?
Webster’s dictionary defines it as: showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace.

The effects of disability do not let up. They are daily, they are hourly, they are there offering challenges by the minute at times. There is no end in sight, there is no cure, there is no healing in the broader sense. But what sweet balm of ultimate healing they will meet if their eyes are turned to Christ.”

Those are the words of my good friend, Justin Reimer, Director and Chairman of The Elisha Foundation in Bend, Oregon.

As divine appointments go, I met Justin through this blog and we instantly bonded through the disability of our sons and the grace of our Father.

A few weeks ago, Justin invited my family out to Oregon to attend The Elisha Foundation Retreat, a special ministry named after his special son, for families touched by disability.

At first I extended a polite, “Thank you, but…” which was followed by a long list of obstacles, barriers and excuses that would need a certified miracle from God to make the trip possible.

However, Justin was “RELENTLESS” as he continued to chisel away at the obstacles, barriers and excuses until finally the providence of God flew us on the wings of grace from Huntington, WV to Redmond, Oregon.

From Redmond, we drove to the Deschutes National Forest outside of the small town of Sisters, to a place called Camp Sherman.

Now I’m not sure what the New Earth will look like, but after last weekend I have a lot better guess. Nestled within sight of the Cascade Mountains in the shade of a forest of 100 foot tall Ponderosa Pines, sit twenty or so cozy cabins separated by a winding, rock laden, crystal clear trout stream.

This was the setting for the “sweet balm of healing” as Justin and his army of volunteers turned our tired and hurting eyes to Christ.

Pastor Paul Martin, from Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Canada stood and delivered with compassion and authority every evening as he brought the gospel to this group of weary travelers.

This was no “feel good” watered down, cotton-candy preaching. It was deep and penetrating as he faithfully exposited from the book of Hebrews proclaiming and magnifying the Christ that “upholds the universe by the word of His power”.

This is the Jesus that provides healing, strength and grace for families touched by the heartbreak and fatigue of disability. This is the Jesus that puts purpose and power in the lives of the disabled. This is the Jesus that was reflected in the lives of so many families at this Christ-centered retreat.

But it wasn’t only the parents who were ministered to. Each family was represented by a child with specific disabilities. These children were embraced, cherished, loved on and protected. They were gently and intentionally pointed to the cross of Christ in word, action and example.

In return, these special children became ministers of grace to the entire camp. I watched with awe and amazement as teenage volunteers (my own sons included) lay aside their pride, egos and sense of clickish popularity for the mantle of humility and Christ-likeness.

I saw adult volunteers go above and beyond to give respite to the families and grace-ability to the disabled. I observed the strong carry the weak and the weak change the lives of the strong.
There were no tears of pity or self-centered sorrow, only weeping of joy and satisfaction in the One who will eventually wipe all our eyes with His healing garment of grace.

In great retrospect, I am glad I traveled across the country to attend this retreat. I am grateful for those who made it possible through their generosity and kindness. I am touched by the many new friends and life long relationships that were built in these few, but powerful days.

Most of all I am amazed by the God of grace who, through a blog entry much like this, knit together the hearts of two families, giving one father the “RELENTLESS” passion of ministry and another the “sweet balm of healing”—both born in the shadow of bitter-sweet disability...or better yet, amazing, grace-ability.


  1. Praise God! I'm so happy to see this video and hear of the blessings you received, and will continue to receive, through this ministry! Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Thanks for the slide-show, dear brother. My whole family is missing our TEF-family and thanking God for His great grace extended to us. Thanks for being an instrument of that to us.

  3. Thanks, Greg. Your words are always a blessing to me, humbling me...always reminding me of God's great and good love.

  4. I have only recently come across your blog - it has been a real blessing and encouragement to me. Your faithful witness to your heavenly Father and the light of Jesus in your life truly shines through the words that you write. I look forward to reading your book when it comes out and know many of my friends here in the UK will want to read it too.

    Every Blessing to you and your precious family.

  5. I'm really touched by your testimony and so thankful that you and my brother, Justin, have been able to encourage one another!
    May God bless you with depths of grace, peace and joy through His precious Holy Spirit!

  6. What a wonderful reflection on God's goodness. I am so glad your family was able to come, and it was fantastic to see your boys jump in and serve with enthusiasm from day one.

    Thankful for His relentless grace,

  7. I really love the slide show - I'm very much missing TEF too!

    - Sophie

  8. I just finished reading your book, "Wrestling with an Angel" as an assignment for the camp I will be working at this summer. I have attended this camp as a camper for many years, as I myself have a physical disability. I will be the Program Director this summer and though I know a lot about how to minister to people with physical disabilities, I am now learning how to serve people with intellectual disabilities as well. Your blog and book has truly inspired me and after reading about how this retreat uplifted your spirit, I am ever more encouraged for my work this summer.

    Thank you