Hiking With a Limp: Part 1
I had never had a broken bone, nor any other significant issues with my body, but that all changed last year when I fell from a ladder while cutting a limb out of a tree with a chainsaw. Unfortunately, I landed on a cement walkway on my left hip fracturing the femur bone below the hip socket. I was fortunate that the accident with a chainsaw was not significantly worse, and that those who were helping me were not injured either. While the rehabilitation and healing was faster than most people experience, I am reminded nearly every moment of the day and most nights that my femur bone still has a rod from my hip to my knee and also two very large screws. There is pain, and at times a limp, that helps to remind me of the accident, but more importantly how God protected me from a much more serious outcome. Although after two years I may choose to have the inserts removed, I suspect that the pain, and possible limp, may remain for many years.
In this Wisdom Note, we will consider what it means to trek through life with a limp. All of us go through trials and tribulations in life that can leave us with a limp that affects us throughout our lives. This can be a very humbling and refining process for us. From a figurative standpoint, ask yourself, “What has caused me to limp, and what have I learned from it?” Has this situation changed who you are? For me I will never combine a ladder and chainsaw in the same environment again.
Never trust a leader who doesn’t walk with a limp.
At the end of Jacob’s all-night struggle, God touched the socket of Jacob’s hip and damaged it so that from that time forward Jacob always walked with a limp. This encounter with God changed him in other ways too. He got a new name and moved into a new phase of his life. He was now fit to lead a new nation that exists to this very day.
There is a remarkable quality that can come from the lives of people after they have wrestled with God or life’s issues, and the resulting limp is a sign to themselves and to others that God has humbled them.
We have some pithy little statements that we throw about, like “When life sends you lemons, make lemonade.” It makes tough times sound so easy, but life isn’t always so simple. Lightweight phrases do little to recognize the challenges we wrestle with.
I was on the wrestling team in high school, so I understand firsthand how strenuous and difficult physical wrestling can be. It requires a lot of discipline to develop skill and agility, sacrifice to burn off fat, and determination to promote muscle growth, strength, and focus, which is required to become refined enough to be victorious.
Paula and I have also had to wrestle with life’s issues in the form of business loss, financial downturns, the death of loved ones who were very close to us, moving for work, a granddaughter with leukemia, and my broken femur bone that we would have never chosen ourselves. All of these experiences and others have been a refining fire in our lives to burn off that which is impure so that the fine gold could become evident, and we realize that there may be other times of such trials in our future.
All of us experience seasons of wrestling, testing, discipline, and sifting such as is described in the book of Hebrews 12:1-13. We may wrestle with health issues, financial stress, depression, relational difficulties, brokenness, failure, loss, grief, and desert-type seasons in our lives and spiritual journey. If we don’t anticipate and expect it, we will be surprised and confused when it comes. For the next few days, we will travel on some key trails as we prepare ourselves for these seasons of life.
We begin with the first trail.
Trail #1 – Perspective is everything.
When we experience difficult seasons, it doesn’t mean God isn’t present or has stopped loving us. It doesn’t necessarily mean we lack faith or have brought this upon ourselves through doing something wrong. Following Jesus doesn’t exclude us from encountering pain and challenges in our lives. In fact, we are told in scripture to expect it.A robust theology equips us with the knowledge and expectation that when pain comes, God walks with us through it.These difficult realities are part of living in the now and not fully experiencing His kingdom. They are also a reminder of God’s commitment to us as His children so that we grow up into Him. Our perspective is important because it affects how we respond to hard things.Will we see these seasons as a reminder of God’s lordship and loving activity in our lives that can lead us to greater intimacy with Him, or will we see it as evidence of His absence and lack of love which leads to bitterness, fear, and isolation from Him and others?CS Lewis reminds us that,“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Pain and suffering can help us put things in perspective, value what is truly valuable, and be transformative tools in God’s hands.
We have barely scratched the surface of our Trek that we embarked on this week, but that is the end of this trail.
Next on our hike we will learn how to prepare for hiking with a limp while we build on this Wisdom Note. Our focus next will be to realize that we are not alone on this trek we call life.