The Word for today:
The Bible often reviews the past in order to make sense of the present and to emphasize God’s constant faithfulness. We, too, can be blessed with spiritual perspective when we take time to review the scene in our personal “rear view mirrors.”
In the spirit of Nehemiah chapter 9, which recounts the history of God’s faithfulness, we urge you to recall your own personal journey with God, and to note the sense and shape that the long view lends our lives. Toward that end, Franklyn recounts from his own life the grace of God that only time can tell. His story began in this space yesterday and concludes today.
I’d hated that record-setting day for thirty years. I’d marked it as the beginning of the end for a lad I’d known so well.
And I always had a hard time describing–to a decade’s worth of doctors and trainers, before I completely gave up the chase–just exactly what and where my deep-seated injury actually was. All I could do was point in vain to the place where the leg ceases to be a leg and becomes a body instead.
So time continued turning until I found myself transported–don’t ask me how–into realms of faith, into the kingdom of God. It wasn’t until I got there that I found an account–a clinically precise description–of my old wound. I happened to read it right here:
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh. (Genesis 32:24-32)
I was teaching a Bible class, reading those verses projected on the wall, when I first found my injury exactly described. I’d read the passage before, of course, but I’d never connected Jacob’s spiritual genesis to my own. I remember Shelley shooting me a quizzical glance because I read far more of that passage than was necessary to buttress the particular point I’d been teaching. I told her later, on the way home, that it was as if the words were being read to me from a source deep within–from where the past meets its meaning, from where the problem becomes its own solution, from where judgment ceases to be judgment and becomes God’s grace instead.
Our lap now over, the gang now gone, we made our way to our car parked way over in the now-emptied lot. And then before I knew it I’d turned around and I was running fluidly, effortlessly, limp-lessly, and fast. I wanted a last look at the big picture before they took it down.
I’d once hated that picture more than anything. Taken moments before we began our record relay, it had captured my last immortal smile. Then over the years–perversely, it seemed–the photo appeared in the local paper twenty times if it appeared once. Well-meaning friends would clip and save it for me. And every time I saw it, every few years, I counted it as a twisted trick of fate. I wondered at the pitiless irony that every so often would force me to recollect the day the essential Franklyn had died.
Shelley had followed me back through the track’s gates, so I asked her, “Will you take a picture of me, next to myself, in this big picture?”
She knows what that picture once meant to me and how I came to regard it as the day the Lord Jesus Christ broke my leg to turn my heart around.
Track might not be important to you, like it was to the boy in the picture. But something hidden away in a bottom drawer, in a dark corner of your memory, once meant life itself to you. Maybe it was a dream, an aspiration. Or maybe it was a relationship.
And maybe it was shattered. And maybe it was broken.
I invite you to revisit the day, because Jesus is the Savior. He’s in the saving business, and he means business. If he has to break your legs to save you, he will. If he has to break your heart to save you, he will. He’s already ordered a brand new heart for you anyway. (1)
Revisit the day. Surrounded by the context of many years, it might look far different now than it did then. Hopefully it won’t take you the thirty years it took me to be able to look at the big picture and proclaim, “Great is thy faithfulness!” (2)
(1) Ezekiel 36:26; (2) Lamentations 3:23