May 5, 2015
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
-Psalm 121: 1-2 (NIV)
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
-John 10:10b (KJV)
One of the commitments I made upon returning from sabbatical was to do something about the recurring running injuries I have been having. For several years now I have been suffering from swollen knees and a sore big toe on my right side. Occasionally I even got a searing pain in the middle toe on that side. But I told myself, “I’m a runner and real runners run through the pain.” And this is partly true, but not completely. So finally, after having to start and stop the running so much that I wondered if it was benefiting me at all, I decided to find out what was going on.
What I found out, of course, was that one reason was and is age and that the body just doesn’t recover as fast when we get older. But there was more to it than that. So when I went to the doctor, he confirmed that I had indeed stretched the MCL (painful but usually heals on its own) and that yes, it probably was time to see the podiatrist, something had broken down to the point in my feet that it was affecting how I run.
My podiatrist disagreed. He thought it was well past time to have come to see him. Apparently my arches have fallen quite dramatically and caused other abnormalities in my foot that were the cause of not only the toe pain but an altered stride and knee injuries. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to help me with simple cures but might have to resort to surgery. After looking at the shape of my feet as they now are, he described not only what I was doing while I ran but why I was doing it. And then he fit me for custom orthotic inserts, hoping this would stave off the need for surgery in the future.
Apparently he had seen this many times before. Other runners had come to him when they felt the pain and asked for help. But I kept running further injuring the joint rather than getting the help I needed. Ultimately it was only my own stubbornness and pride that kept me from doing so and, despite my mantra, there was no reward in not seeking help.
I’ve only been wearing the orthotics for two weeks… at times they are quite annoying because they force my feet to do things they don’t want to do…. But I can already tell a difference in the way my feet are functioning. No, I have not yet run on them… that will come in another week or two, but it was indeed time… I really did need the help of an expert!
It seems to me that often, in our spiritual life, we think we can handle all sorts of things on our own and refuse to go and find the help that is offered. This help comes in many forms— the ultimate of course being the help we find in Christ’s sacrifice and death on the Cross – but it also comes in day to day life. It comes in the shape of a moral code to instruct and guide us, in the form of a loving Church Family that will walk alongside us in times of trial and in times of joy, in friends and mentors to help us talk through those difficult decisions we must make and in God’s Word to inspire and instruct us. And these are just a few… to list all the ways in which God offers help to us… well that’s why David wrote these Psalms. God’s help is available to us in so many ways they are too vast to number, all for one purpose… that we might have life and have it more abundantly.
But like me and running, I think we sometimes tell ourselves…. “Life is supposed to be hard, I can do this (on my own)!”
And we got it half right. We can do it… but not on our own.
Prayer: God, grant me the ability to live life to the fullest in concert with you and with those you send into my life to help me. Let me be open to accepting the help of others when I need it, offering help to others when I can and always knowing that you are in the midst. Amen.
Dr. Reverend Steve Van Ostran
ABCRM Executive Minister