Friday, June 17, 2011

The Hands of Jesus

My Physical Therapy Appointment.
Nicholasville, KY.

What does the phrase "searing pain" mean?

Let me tell you.

I am undergoing physical therapy for my feet so that they won't break. They have high arches. Normal people's feet have arches that raise from the ground at about a 10 percent angle, according to my podiatrist. My foot arches measure an angle of 45 percent.

I call it the Barbie Doll Foot Syndrome.

What happens when you have a high foot arch? In my case, at my stage in life?

Searing. Pain.

Definition of searing? "To char, scorch, or burn the surface of with or as if with a hot instrument."

That would be the sum of it. I have physical therapy three times per week, for about two hours per session. It involves a lot of weight lifting with the legs ... stretching ... and even a climbing machine that I have nicknamed, "The Spanish Inquisition Instrument." (No kidding -- if they'd had that thing during the Spanish Inquisition, they would have convinced anyone to say anything.)

After I finish with my exercises, my physical therapist goes to work on my feet and calves.

Enter, Searing Pain.

Think of it this way: Someone takes a hot iron and moves it up and down the backs of your legs and on the bottoms of your feet.


Usually I grab the sides of the table and hang on. Sometimes, I dig my fingernails into the palms of my hands. Lately, I've held onto a towel and twisted it. And twisted it. And twisted it. Once I almost cried. But see ... I decide I'm going to own this pain, so it's just better to breathe through it.

OK, so it's not as bad as childbirth ... but if you're a woman, imagine a mammogram that lasts for 20 minutes.

There ya go.

Now you'll find this probably a little amusing, or maybe strange ... but there is one thing I do in my mind's eye to get through this.

I close my eyes and tell myself that the hands pummeling my legs and feet are the hands of Jesus.

Did you ever read Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis? There's a great description about how Aslan heals Eustace and transforms him from a dragon back to a boy. Here's how Eustace describes the encounter to his cousins, Edmund and Lucy:

"Then the lion said ... 'You will have to let me undress you.' I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I'd ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. ... He peeled the beastley stuff right off .... And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. ... After that, it became perfectly delicious, and as soon as I started swimming and splashing, I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why, I'd turned into a boy again."

Now that's sort of a gruesome way of describing the healing process -- both figuratively and literally -- but really, that's the way it is. You have to go through a great deal of pain before things feel "delicious" again, to use Eustace's words.

What does this have to do with a Christian Safehouse?

I got to thinking how much this person who helps me really is healing me and how much of a gift from God he is. Circumstances have forced me into financial difficulty. This kind man has a hardship program, whereby people can receive therapy at a certain rate that they can afford. It's such a gift.

And as much pain as I'm in during the therapy, I am so very grateful for it. Without it, I might degenerate even more. I don't know my prognosis yet, but I do know that in the month since I started, I am much stronger and am already seeing improvements.

What would happen if there was not a person to be the hands of Jesus to me?

People say all the time, "I'll believe in a miracle if Jesus comes and heals me Himself." But they miss the obvious. In my case, the obvious is financial provision for a place that I otherwise could never afford. The obvious is a team of physical therapist assistants, who observe my own efforts on each machine and help me regain strength. The obvious is the physical therapist, who tears into my muscles with strong hands and, like Aslan, tears up the offending part of the body that is making me weak.

Sometimes we hear the words, "the hands and feet of Jesus," and we think of that abstractly. In my case, this man HAS BECOME the HANDS of Jesus. He is there for many hours, working on many people, using his hands as a gift to them -- as a gift from God.

How am I the hands of Jesus? How are you the hands of Jesus? We may not be physical therapists, but within the body of Christ (or, the Christian Safehouse, as it were), we can be that encouragement, that healing force, that peaceful presence to someone else. Check out Romans 12 for more detail on how members of the body of Christ uphold each other.

Today I am grateful for the hands of Jesus, shown to me through a humble soul who demonstrates God's love on a daily basis.

Today I resolve to be the hands of Jesus to another.

Will you?

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