Ed Barels is 74 years old and lives in Montgomery, Alabama. He was in a terrible car wreck, and had to have his right leg amputated.
Ed had been a former track star in his high school days and had continued his practice of distance running. You can imagine what a disappointment it is for a runner to have a leg amputated.
Ed took the very thing most folks would consider a problem, and turned it into a possibility. Instead of sitting down and complaining about losing his leg, he decided to use the amputation of his leg as a platform to encourage other people. Instead of letting a tough situation get the best of him, he is using that same situation to offer the best to others.
He visits the patients at Hillview Terrace Healthcare Rehab to encourage them. He tells the patients of the kind of thoughts that plagued him when he was a patient there, but how he turned those bad thoughts into positive action.
He tells the patients, “I knew I had to get up and get going or I was going to have problems. So now I go to rehab centers and talk to people who have problems and try to encourage them.”
He enjoys cheering people up. He is good at telling jokes to the patients. He always reminds them that he “left a leg behind” when he was a patient, but he is now walking.
Ed decided to walk in the 5K Turkey Burner last November. He finished in last place. It took him over an hour. He had a police escort behind him, but he finished!!
Anything in life can either be a problem or a possibility. It can be a burden or a blessing. Read Matthew 14:13-21 – and see where Jesus took a bad situation of thousands of hungry people, and turned it into a great event by multiplying five loaves and two fish. When the disciples confronted Jesus about the hunger of the crowd they saw a problem. Jesus looked for the possibility of what could be. He took the very thing they were complaining about, and used it as a platform to demonstrate God’s mighty power.
In life we will face many situations about which we could complain. You don’t have to be in a hospital or rehab center to see that. Would you consider today taking the thing that troubles you most and asking God how he can use it to be a blessing and encouragement to other people?
Ed Barels is a former professor at schools including Mississippi University for Women and Troy University. I believe his best teaching is being done today with one leg, a big smile, a great attitude, and a desire to encourage others.