I’ll make this relatively quick. Humans have a short memory. I know I do. I forget my car keys, whether or not I turned off the iron, and far too often, I forget how much God has done for me. I wont list all my life struggles here, but my most recent one has been physical. Nothing earth shattering, but disturbing to me none the less. I have a disc injury, (that’s a back thing for all us non-medical folks) and for someone who likes to be active, that can be maddening. I’ve marked some major milestones in my thirties: I started cycling as an early thirty-something, later completed my first half-iron man. Crossing the mid-point of my thirties I ascended Mt. Ventoux in France and completed an Ironman, and now today I’m celebrating becuase I was simply able to run one mile non-stop. No, this is not a pity party, I’m confident that my back will improve. Hopefully I’m still learning important lessons though.
I’m not a stranger to injury – broken collar bone, hand, arm (twice actually), multiple twists and sprains,overuse injuries, hernia – you get the point. None of these are on the scale of what many go through medically, no attempts at comparison are being made here, again not the point. I am reminded of a couple of verses in the Bible, which really don’t speak specifically to my situation, and yet which have for some reason really stuck with me. The first is “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.” (Ephesians 5:29) The second is this: ” Skin for skin! Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” (Job 1:4) The first is from the writings of Paul, written in the context of how husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church. The second is from the book of Job and records Satan’s suggestion about what he thinks will cause Job to curse God. You won’t find anything about disc injuries or sports injuries in either.
So what IS the point? Never are we so keenly aware of our mortality,the frailty of human existence, as when our bodies are hurting. Although we might sometimes deny it, we are pretty attached to our bodies. That’s how we are wired. I have “leftovers” from old injuries, things I sometimes lament (I’m ashamed to say). So how can those things be used to bring God glory? Can they even be used for my encouragement as well? Some of the things I read in the Old Testament often strike me strange, because they are so culturally foreign to me. I see people setting up pillars, or piles of stones to commemorate events, encounters with God. How easily we forget things without reminders. A couple of years ago I was told by a cardiologist that he had detected a site of prior disease in my heart. I forgot about running, and wondered how many years I would have with my family. We cried out to God. Subsequent tests revealed, according to my doctor, “one of the healthiest examples of a human heart he had ever seen.” God did that. I give him full credit. For weeks I would thank God regularly, and praise him as I ran… but how quickly we forget, and how much we take for granted.
Fast forward to today. As I went for my very short run today, I hoped with each step the pain would not creep in. At one point, with each stride I found myself asking God for his help and healing. I was reminded that I am utterly dependent on God for EVERY STEP. Take it as a metaphor if you like. Not only every literal step of my run, but every aspect of life. It is so easy to delude oneself into believing in our own self-sufficiency, that we are the sole captain of our ship and commander of our life. Then a reminder will creep in, that nagging little twinge, that ache, that reminds me I’m only flesh and bone, and thankfully not alone. So I’ll own my injuries as long as they persist, and use them as a pillar, a reminder in my flesh, which points me to the true captain of my ship, the commander of my soul, and the ultimate source of life, Jesus my Lord and Savior.