My roommate for two years at a Christian college was a German named Reiner. Returning to Germany after graduation, Reiner taught at a camp for the disabled where, relying on college notes, he gave a stirring speech on the Victorious Christian Life. "Regardless of the wheelchair you are sitting in, you can have victory, a full life. God lives within you!" he told his audience of paraplegics, cerebal palsy patients, and the mentally challenged. He found it disconcerting to address people with poor muscle control. Their heads wobbled, they slumped in their chairs, they drooled.
The campers found listening to Reiner equally disconcerting. Some of them went to Gerta, director of the camp, and complained that they could not make sense of what he was saying. "Well then, tell him!" said Gerta.
One brave woman screwed up her courage and confronted Reiner. "It's like you're talking about the sun, and we're in a dark room with no windows," she said. "We can't understand anything you say. You talk about solutions, about the flowers outside, about overcoming and victory. These things don't apply to us in our lives."
My friend Reiner was crushed. To him, the message seemed so clear. He was quoting directly from Paul's epistles, was he not? His pride wounded, he thought about coming at them with a kind of spiritual bludgeon: There's something wrong with you people. You need to grow in the Lord. You need to triumph over adversity.
Instead, after a night of prayer, Reiner returned with a different message. "I don't know what to say," he told them the next morning. "I'm confused. Without the message of victory, I don't know what to say." He stayed silent and hung his head.
The woman who had confronted him finally spoke up from the room full of disabled people. "Now we understand you." she said. "Now we are ready to listen."
Reaching for the Invisible God (Philip Yancey)