When the marathon turns uphill
It’s one of those times that before I start writing, I’ve got to get my head right. Ever have those? Where you know you have to find the solid ground for a moment before you go swimming out over your head?
So I’m sharing my solid ground, so you can get a firm foot too. If you don’t usually read the bible, or don’t know much about it, what I’m about to post here is a short passage written by the Apostle Paul to the people in Philippi who believe in Jesus. He’s encouraging himself and them at the same time. The version I’m quoting is The Message, which is actually a paraphrase that uses modern language. You’ll find it pretty easy to understand, I think. I don’t read paraphrases a lot, but today I need it right where I live, and so there you have it.
12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
17-19 Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.
20-21 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.
There. That’s better.
So why did I need to get my head right? Because today I’m having to dig into faith that isn’t yet sight.
Some people say that seeing is believing. In the upside down world of the kingdom of God, believing is seeing. I’m not talking about wishful thinking. That’s what human-powered hope is: wishful thinking. The best it can produce is an emotional reaction, and maybe a bit of delusional thinking.
Eh, no thanks.
I have a goal. When I take my last earthly breath and then my first one face-to-face with Him, I want to be trailing miles and miles of people who’ve had an encounter with His goodness, mercy, and love through me. I want sick people dancing in vitality and health. I want broken people laughing and twirling in their wholeness. I want found people rejoicing that they are no longer lost. I want sisters and brothers, fellow Light Workers, beloved ragamuffins all, each with their own trail miles and miles long.
He is my prize, and those trails are my gift to Him.
Today I went to my physical therapy appointment feeling pretty apprehensive. When asked how my knee was, I told the truth. A week ago it was doing well with really positive signs of progress, but after a particularly aggressive therapy session (purposefully, to build up some muscles to help me go down the stairs more normally), it never really recovered well and has since deteriorated to pre-surgery stiffness and pain. My physical therapist went right next door and talked to the PA I usually see, who was willing to work me in. The PA whipped out his handy little numbing needle so he could then whip out his ginormous needle. He removed 22ccs of fluid from my knee and then shot some cortisone in there.
It hurts like the dickens now, but I know from having this done last September, it will probably feel a lot better tomorrow. Cortisone is pretty amazing stuff when you need to get bossy with inflammation.
And welcome to why I need to get my head right: I can’t even count the number of injured/painful knees I’ve laid hands on and prayed over and saw healed on the spot. God is in the business of healing, and He lets me participate, which never ceases to amaze me or get me seriously jazzed. And yet, here I am, limping and climbing stairs like a toddler, one thumping step at a time. This knee has been prayed over many times by myself, friends, and ministers who operate in a powerful anointing for healing. I’ve hoped, I’ve believed, I stepped out in faith…
…but my knee still hurts.
Let me tell you what I don’t believe. I don’t believe that my condition is God’s will. I don’t believe that He is withholding healing from me. I don’t believe that He inflicted this on me, and I especially don’t believe He inflicted this one me to teach me some sort of lesson. I don’t believe that the work of the devil is stronger than Jesus’ finished work on the cross. I don’t believe that I haven’t seen the healing because I don’t have faith.
So why is my knee still like this? I don’t know.
It is highly possible that in the near future I’ll once again lay hands on someone’s hurting knee and see them healed while mine still hurts. If I that happens I will wholeheartedly rejoice with them. I told Him long ago that I would be about His business if He would be about mine. I have to leave it there and trust Him. And I can’t entertain that hissing voice that says that I am disqualified for praying for the healing and wholeness of others if my own is compromised. Shoot, I wasn’t the One who qualified me in the first place.
But sometimes I do have to remind myself that there is a goal, and I’m running with purpose.
And even if I run with a limp for a while, the prize is worth it.