A Straight Gait

My gait has been off lately, and that’s forced me to focus upon my walking. I injured my left knee in junior high while doing a running broad jump, and it reminds me of that fall when I get a little over zealous. In March, I did enough damage to cause a limp. I favored my right leg for two months, and my limp stayed on after my knee healed. I didn’t notice it until last weekend when several folks asked me why I was limping. I decided it was time to straighten up my gait.

Focus is the key to correcting a bad habit, and my limp had evolved into one. I decided to walk slowly, keep my back straight and be mindful of my balance. It was going pretty well, but I wasn’t seeing or feeling the progress I desired. The process was painful because lazy muscles were having to pick up the slack, and dominant ones were having to give up control. It literally felt like a battle between my legs and me. The right wasn’t giving up control, and the left was cool with that arrangement. I was determined to get both in a straight line!

Fate intervened when I injured my right leg on Sunday. I was standing on my bed while putting up a curtain rod, and the phone rang. It was in the kitchen, so I walked over to the end of the bed and stepped down. I immediately felt the strain on my right leg. It hadn’t stretched like that since junior high, and it was not enjoying the lead in that moment of strange movement. I felt like kicking myself, and both legs agreed wholeheartedly. My stupidity had caused an injury to my “good” knee!! I had to smile in the pain because I realized this was definitely going to move my gait to the left!

Thank God my knee was not injured at all, but my pride and the muscles in my right leg were throbbing. The great news is that my gait is getting straighter by the day. It isn’t easy to focus on each step, but it’s worth the effort. The lessons of late have been about finding balance and getting my heart centered. Like my legs, it’s leaned and limped on both sides.

God knows I am a visual learner who needs hands-on experiences to fully grasp the lessons He has for me. I know He didn’t cause the injuries that led me to learn the importance of balance; my careless choices did that. I was showing off on the track decades ago, and I wanted to save a few seconds on Sunday when I raced for my phone. I got everyone’s attention when I landed on my knee, and I made it to the phone on time; but those decisions had consequences that went well beyond the moment in which they were made, as do all choices.

I’m not sure what God has in mind for me, but I know He wants my heart to be centered in His Son’s precious love. The center is where He is, and my heart’s gait will never be straight until I get there. That means making sure every step leads me a little closer to where He is.

imatter.silvercross knee pain

photo credit:imatter.silvercross.org

And God Changed His Mind

Jonah 3:1-5, 10 is a glimpse of the grace that results when God changes His mind. God never changes, but I love that He can and will change His mind. He can do whatever He wants to do, but; like Jonah, I find myself wanting Him to do what I want Him to do. That means sticking to the agenda and not embarrassing me with last minute changes.

Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”

This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.

When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. (NLT)

Jonah was an important man delivering the message that Nineveh was about to be destroyed. The people heard and repented, but that didn’t make Jonah happy. In fact, he was angry when God extended grace and let them live. That may sound strange, but it is human nature to hurt when humiliated. He wanted them to get what they deserved, and he wanted to be right! God wanted them to change, so he forgave them when they did.

Forgiveness heals as nothing else, and no one knows that better than God. I don’t know what happened to Jonah. We leave him sulking over a plant while God asks where his compassion is for the 120,000 people and the animals of Nineveh who would have perished. God spared Jonah’s life and the lives of the sailors who pleaded for mercy, but time in the belly of the big fish didn’t seem to sweeten Jonah’s disposition.

Jonah is a book of incredible love, but that love doesn’t come from Jonah. I hope he found compassion, and I hope he learned to extend and accept forgiveness. I know God forgave him, but that doesn’t  mean he accepted. He may not have recognized his need for it. Like the older son in the story of the Prodigal Son, Jonah may have had a hard time seeing those who don’t deserve forgiveness and grace getting it. None of us deserve God’s grace, love, mercy, or forgiveness, but that doesn’t stop Him.

God lets me get angry, and he allows me to sulk when things don’t turn out the way I want. I can’t be too hard on Jonah because I’ve been where he is, and it isn’t a pleasant place to be. I learned years ago that seriousness is a serious sin that disguises itself in many ways. The need to be right or the need to retaliate get in the way of true forgiveness and cause my journey to be a self righteous march rather than a walk in God’s kingdom. I’m learning to let God humble me with humor when the sin of seriousness creeps into my path. As a dear friend once told me, a little levity goes a long way 🙂

 

Photo Credit: MisfitWisdom
Photo Credit: MisfitWisdom

 

The Foolishness of Fighting Alone

When I try to do things on my own, I end up in a terrible mess. That is never more true than when I think I can handle my sin without help. I set myself up for a fall if I think I can do what only Christ is able to do. Bravado leads to destruction, and courage kills any chance I have at righteous living if I attempt to battle Satan alone.

Ephesians 6:12 is a vivid reminder that should be memorized by those who like to do things for themselves or think they can save someone else.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” NASB

Being saved does not make me God, and that becomes painfully clear when I attempt to do what only He can do. When faced with evil, my job is to swallow my pride and cry out to God. He hears my cries and brings peace. If I start a fight I cannot finish, I am in for a bad bruising or worse.  Pride comes before my fall when it makes me think I can handle everything on my own.

Matthew 11:30 is another verse to keep in my heart.

“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”NASB

When I allow God to be God, my burdens become light as He takes then and turns them into lessons that nudge me a little closer to Him and to those in my path. Before I can give him those burdens, I have to deal with my pride. With pride out of the way, humility has room to take root in my heart. Then, I can truly walk in God’s kingdom and not stomp all over it!