WALK BY FAITH DEVOTIONAL – 4/1/2013
I’ve never broken a leg, thank God, and I’ve never needed crutches while my leg healed in a cast, but I know all about crutches. I know how to find them, where to get them, how to use them, how to lay them down, how to pick them up again, how to show off in them, how to kick them to the curb when I’m tired of them, how to do fancy turns in them, how to figure I’m done with them only to grab hold of them again, and lots more. After all, I may never have had a broken leg. But in my lifetime thus far I’ve done more than plenty of stumbling, falling, catching myself, crashing to the ground, tripping, starting to fall, catching my fall, watching others catch my fall, limping, showing off my crutches, and just about everything else that goes with a – what?
A broken leg? No, a broken walk. Hey, it goes with the territory. Learning to walk by faith as I keep my commitment to follow Jesus is everything but pretty, steady, perfect, graceful, or anything else that goes with a perfect walk. And, quite frankly, I’ve used plenty of crutches along the way. That’s why I wasn’t the least bit surprised when the Lord gave me a vision recently of just how I had been trying to walk. When I was in high school, I spent some time volunteering in a few physical therapy departments of hospitals, along with some nursing homes, along with some other places, as I tore through my maybe-this-is-what-I-will-become-when-I-grow-up possibilities.
Thanks to a private high school that required its students to VOLUNTEER, i.e. WORK, on Wednesdays rather than sit in on yet more classes, and thanks to parents that pushed hard when it came to the importance of education and work, I got the point. Somewhere along the way, I needed to figure out – and try out – what I might do with the rest of my life. Though just about everything I explored was vastly different from what I have actually ended up doing with my life (not a surprise since I knew NOTHING about God back then), I did get lots of experience. Such was the case when I volunteered in physical therapy.
It’s funny what our memory retains decades later, isn’t it? And for someone who couldn’t remember most of her childhood, it’s interesting what I did manage to remember from other parts and pieces of my life. As for physical therapy, some things just plain old stood out. Like the burn victim who came to soak in these special tubs – and who was entirely too interested (and inappropriately so) in me. I remember my college roommate who also worked in a physical therapy department – where she proceeded to faint for a reason I am not entirely sure. I recall a lady who came in for a procedure on her back – and to make sure everyone knew just how much pain she was in. Accurate memory? I don’t know. That’s just what stands out now. Little memories. But then there were the big ones.
Two memories stand out above all the rest. And how could they not? A young woman, skinny as all heck, and broken, so very clearly, had been shot by her boyfriend. She was paralyzed. How could she not be broken? She was, and nothing could have surprised me more than the day the person in charge of her care had decided it was time to sit up – and to proceed in the slow, grueling process of whatever physical therapy regimen that was planned for her. The people watching over her used a special board. She lay on the board, and their job was to get the board from a perfectly flat position to move her slowly upward. She was dizzy. Of course she was dizzy. I cannot even fathom all she had been through. I was so young back then, so naive, so clueless, in so many ways. But I was not clueless about this. That young woman had endured one of the greatest tragedies a human can endure – the loss of her mobility, the loss of so much of her future, the loss of more than anyone who has not been through what she had could possibly imagine. And, yes, she had endured this at the hands of someone who more than likely had professed to love her. This memory, undoubtedly, will remain in my mind.
The other memory that stands out above all the rest of my time spent in the physical therapy departments – and the one that I cannot help remember when I think about crutches and of the vision the Lord gave me just a month or so ago – is that of the physical therapy assistants teaching people how to walk again after their various trials and tribulations. I don’t honestly remember crutches, but I remember this special thing they had that was a long stretch of area to walk with handrails on either side. The assistants would take the patients down this long hallway-looking thing (though not really a hallway, mind you), teaching them to brace themselves on the rails until they were far enough along in their recovery to walk without the rails. Perhaps next they would go to crutches, or to a walker, or maybe even a wheelchair. Somehow, though, first they would need to use the rails. And, in my estimate, these rails were like crutches in that the people could not sufficiently, and safely, walk without the help of what stood on the right of them, and on the left of them.
The Lord didn’t mess around when He gave me that vision not so long ago. He showed me that I was holding onto the rails, or the “crutches”, off to the left of me, and off to the right of me. The funny thing is, as many times as I’ve thought about the vision, it wasn’t until minutes ago as I was writing that I realized the rails, or the crutches, are off to the left and the right. The Bible clearly tells us in the Old Testament NOT to look to the right or the left. Instead, we are supposed to look ahead to Jesus – and to stay focused on the Word of God, the Bible. Yet, like so many others have done, I have spent a lifetime – yes, even as I have walked with the Lord – looking to my left, and looking to my right. At the world. And, yes, holding on for dear life, to everything but God. To the people, to the stuff, to the addictions, to the whatever.
When God gave me this vision, He showed me that He stood in front of me. But He did not stand in between the rails. He stood ahead of me – ahead of the rails, ahead of the “hallway”. He didn’t stand in the midst of this special device to teach me to walk. He stood a good distance ahead of me, and of the contraption that I was using to try to walk – and He was doing something. Yes, I could see very clearly what He was doing. He was beckoning me. He was calling me forward. And He was telling me He didn’t want me to hold onto the crutches anymore. In fact, I believe He showed me He was taking my crutches away – all that I had held onto.
Wow, huh? Yes, a pretty cool vision. Not just for me, but probably for countless others too. But the vision isn’t so cool when I think about its ramifications. The Lord is calling me to take my hands off the rails, to walk as He is teaching me to do, and to grab a hold of Him. This is just the perfect fit, I feel, for what He gave me yesterday to write about the actual meaning of waiting on Him in the Bible – of holding onto Him, cleaving to Him, binding myself to Him, yolking myself to Him, being in an intimate relationship with Him, as He renews my strength for I have grown so weary.
The funny thing is, and in truth it’s not so funny at all, if all that I have clung to as my “rails”, and as my “crutches”, have truly worked, and truly helped me to walk well, and truly been there for me, then I wouldn’t be as exhausted, as weary, as totally wiped out as I have been. But the truth of the matter is precisely this; the things and people of the world that I have held onto have not given me life. They have exhausted me, or at least holding onto them has exhausted me.
Got crutches? I have had so many. Alcoholism. Anorexia. Bad relationships. Friends the Lord had not chosen for me. People I shouldn’t have depended on, especially when I am called to depend on God. False teaching of the Bible I was exposed to, and fooled by for seasons in my life. Unhealthy thought patters, and way of doing things. Oh, the list goes on, and on, and yes, on some more. My rails. My crutches. And imagine to my surprise when the Lord essentially tells me to toss away my crutches.
Okay, He didn’t quite put it in those words. But He sure did show me. He showed me that not only am I not supposed to look to the left and the right, and get distracted and sucked in by the world. But I am not to depend on the world to walk. In fact, more than likely, the world will only cause me to fall – or at the very least to stub my toes and stumble until I take my next fall.
The Lord wants me to walk – yes, WALK – right into His hold, His embrace, His rest, His mercy, His compassion, His forgiveness, His love, His arms, His majesty. Yes, He wants me to walk right into Him. And He wants to walk IN me. He wants me to ABIDE in Him. And He wants to dwell, to LIVE, IN ME! Now how’s that for amazing?
And as long as I continue to hold onto my rails, and not just to hold, but to hold on for dear life, I can pretty much guarantee I will be doing everything but holding onto HIM for dear LIFE!
It’s time to throw away the crutches, and to move past the rails of this world. Just like the assistants put that woman on a board and raised her up, I have been raised up through my faith in Jesus Christ. But this is not all. They didn’t just raise her up so she could sit there and not do anything. They raised her up to move forward in her life, to learn to do whatever she possibly could to live the life the Lord intended for her to live.
Likewise, I have not been merely raised up to sit in bed and stare out the window all day. Nor have I been raised up to spend my life holding onto rails, walking back and forth in my little hallway.
I have been raised up to learn to walk, to let go of the rails of the world, to learn to hold onto Jesus, to obey the Lord’s commands to love Him with all my heart, to love others as myself, and to serve the Lord as He leads me forward in my walk with Him.
Got crutches? Is it time to throw them out? Do you see, do you hear, the Lord calling? I believe HE is waiting for an answer………….
Jos_1:7 “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.”
2Co_4:18 “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Gal_5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Lord, I know there are people who are reading this whose hearts you are pricking right now, whose hearts you are convicting, that they, like me, have held on for dear life to rails instead of you, to crutches rather than you. Lord, please help all of us to let go, to let go of what we desperately hold onto, and to move beyond the rails, to move past the crutches, and to hold onto you – not just to hold us up. Help us to know you, to be known by you, to be in an intimate, wildly wonderful, beautifully personal, beyond-our-wildest-imagination, RELATIONSHIP with you. Help us to come into your embrace, and hold us, Lord, to teach us to trust you – and above all else, to love and serve you, to be loved by you, as you desire. All for your glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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