Last fall while playing Pickle Ball, Brian injured his Achilles tendon. We iced and elevated it, and since he had flexibility in the ankle and could walk (with a limp), we decided time would heal this wound.
For ten weeks now, he’s continued resting, icing, elevating, and compression. Unfortunately, he still struggles with limited movement, pain, and swelling. Even when he thinks he’s getting close to his normal gait, there’s still an obvious limp.
The other day, a total stranger came up to him in a checkout line, and said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I was walking behind you back there, and I notice that you have quite a limp! Do you have a knee brace?” As they chatted about various injuries – making the checkout wait less annoying — it convinced Brian that he needed to make a doctor’s appointment.
The doctor ordered an MRI which revealed a more substantial injury than we thought. Brian’s Achilles is 95% torn, and it is probably not going to heal without surgery. Hopefully, the surgery will take place soon, but the recovery will be measured in months rather than weeks!
Quite honestly, I feel a little bad because I kept advising him to just stretch it out! Walk a little more! Use that ankle! Use it or lose it! However, the truth is if he had taken my advice fully, he may have torn it even more, and then he’d really be in a bind.
The bottom line… Brian overreached, he went beyond the limits of what his body can do, and he suffered an injury. Then he tried to fix it on his own. And then he tried to convince himself that he was doing a good job.
Why were we so hesitant to go to the doctor? Did we subconsciously know it was perhaps more serious than we wanted to think? Probably. Why did we think we could take care of this on our own? Were we trying to convince ourselves that this truly was “nothing”? And why did Brian think he was walking well enough that no one would notice? I mean seriously, a total stranger could see Brian was having difficulty.
We could often ask the same questions about our spiritual lives.
When we overreach spiritually – when we make choices that lie beyond the boundaries God has set for us – then we injure our relationship with him. We don’t lose our salvation, we cannot separate ourselves from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus, but the relationship – the intimacy – is torn. It’s torn as surely as Brian’s Achilles was torn. And then what do we do?
If you’re like me, you’ll often start by trying to fix it yourself! Deep down we know that the separation is more severe than we want to admit, but we deceive ourselves and assume we have a handle on it. We don’t run to God because we know he’ll tell us it’s more than “nothing”.
Instead of yielding to the Holy Spirit’s conviction and fleeing to God, we try all kinds of therapies: we read books about how to be closer to God or talk to friends in the hopes that they’ll agree that things aren’t really that bad. Perhaps their advice makes sense: read more, think more, pray more, and study more. Use it or lose it; just keep working at being a good Christian. Except we can’t be better on our own.
You might even feel, after a while, that you have your spiritual gait back – you’re doing all the things you used to do, going to church, having regular quiet time, and posting lots of spiritual memes on social media. Nevertheless, you know you are out of spiritual alignment, you are limping, and even strangers can see it. You cannot hide the truth.
If you’ve torn your intimacy with God – either by a sinful choice, a compromise, complacency, fear of being alone, impatience with his timing, or ______ (you know what to write in the blank), the reality is: it’s more serious than you thought and fixing it is beyond your ability. You need a spiritual MRI – you need God to show you the severity of the tear, and you need God’s grace to repair it.
Only God can see into the depths of our hearts to accurately diagnose what’s wrong. Only God can reach the tear and accomplish the surgery that is necessary for healing. It only takes a moment to ask him to cut away the scar tissue, forgive the rend, and stitch us back into a close relationship with him. We must meet with God and confess (agree that God’s way is right, and ours is wrong) and repent (turn away from the sin and turn toward God), and in that moment our sin is forgiven and cast away.
However, the recovery often requires much more time. There is often hard work ahead as we work to change our thoughts and patterns, undoing foolish ways of life that we’ve embraced.
If you feel as if you are barely holding on by a thread, rest assured that God has you in his grip. There is no reason to fear making an appointment with him. There is nothing hidden that he cannot see, diagnose, and heal. Only God can restore you to wholeness and holiness so that others will not see you limping along, but rather walking boldly by faith, which flows from intimacy with God and brings glory to God.
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