Karl was a kid with a lot going for him: good-looking, smart, charming. In an attempt to win the attention of a pair of girls sitting on a dock, he surprised them by jumping over them, diving head-first into the lake beyond. This light-hearted prank took a grave turn when Karl didn’t resurface. Unbeknownst to Karl, the water around the dock was extremely shallow. His friends pulled him out of the water and called an ambulance.
Karl was devastated to hear that not only was he a quadriplegic, but he had lost his ability to speak. His eyes, one of the few organs still in his control, began to well up with tears. He got around in a custom-made chair that he operated by moving a straw-like joystick with his tongue.
Karl graduated high school and went on to college, and while at college he met a few people who told him how Jesus of Nazareth had changed their lives. Karl found the person of Jesus intriguing, and was amazed at how love was the motivator for all that he did. As he became familiar with the Bible, Karl was struck by the numerous references to the mind, the eyes, and the tongue, and the high importance that was placed on them. He no longer had control of his limbs, but he still had control over his tongue, eyes, and mind. Instead of succumbing to despair over what was lost, Karl decided to make the most of what he still had.
Karl went to law school with the author. He now works in the office of the attorney general. He’s made a career of bringing people to justice. Five of his cases have gone all the way to California’s Supreme Court, and he has won them all. He’s authored scores of legislative pieces that have enhanced the justice system and furthered victim’s rights.
Karl’s example is a poignant and inspiring one. Our limit is not set by what we don’t have, but by what we fail to use. His life reminds us of the boy who brought some bread and a few fish to Jesus. Whatever we have, Jesus is eager to use it in ways we can scarcely imagine, if only we bring it to him.