Saturday, January 28, 2012

On swollen knees, community, and the God who heals

This week, I had a doctor's visit with a physiatrist from the Walnut Hill family.  I've had chronic pain and swelling in my knees for ten years, and to be honest, I had pretty much ignored the obvious signs that something was wrong.  In hindsight, I'm 26 and relatively healthy--so I should really be able to jump my horse, go for a run, or play some light tennis without my knees swelling up to the size of saucers.  As I was telling my doctor about my symptoms, he cracked a joke about how people who let these things persist for say, ten years without seeing a doctor, are pretty delinquent.  I then had to admit to him (rather sheepishly) that no, I hadn't been to see a doctor about my problem since it first showed up when I was 16.  Oops.

The good news is that with physical therapy, nutritional supplements to boost my joints' ability to repair themselves, and maybe some ugly old lady shoes from the podiatrist, the problem (stemming in an alignment issue with my hips and my flat feet) should be corrected in time.

The whole thing got me thinking, though.  I mean, I'm generally a lot more disciplined about my spiritual health than I am about my physical health.  But in both arenas, there is sickness I ignore at times.  I want to believe in my own self-sufficiency.  I want to believe there's nothing wrong.  I live on the surface of things instead of in reality sometimes. 


At the heart of it--if I'm really honest with myself, and with you, dear reader--I don't believe the gospel.  Ouch.  That is tough to write.  But here's how I know it: If I really believed that Jesus is after Restoration, if I really trusted that he came to redeem me, body and soul, then I would jump at the chance to be healed.

This idea that our bodies are of secondary importance to our souls smacks of the Gnosticism the Early Church battled.  God has created us as people with bodies, after all.  Christ came to us in a body.  And therefore, God cares very much about our bodies and what we do with them.

I confess that it is difficult for me to believe that healing in my body is oh-so-connected to the gospel.  That is why I've ignored my swollen knees for ten years.

Last night, I was at a worship gathering at my friends the Mancinis' house.  As I tried to get settled on the floor of the living room, I was suddenly hyper-aware of the pain in my knees.  It's nothing new for me to have to switch positions every two minutes because of the discomfort caused when I sit cross-legged--but for some reason, I was suddenly aware of how abnormal that is at my age.  (There is something powerful about finally, finally voicing our need.) 

After we sang six or eight songs and lots of people prayed about a variety of things, I confessed my brokenness before my community--the group of college students and 20-and-30-somethings present.  After I shared my story and prayed thanking God for his grace to me even when I ignore my own need, my friends laid hands on my knees and began to pray.  They prayed for God's Kingdom to break out in my body.  For God to do a miraculous work.  For faith that we would believe in Him as the Able Healer.
And an amazing thing happened: although my knees are still cracking and my hips are still misaligned, the pain is gone!  I can kneel.  I can sit cross-legged.  I was even able to ride today, short stirrups and all, with no discomfort.  He is able.

Someone prayed last night regarding Luke's account of the paralytic whose friends lowered him through the roof to get him in front of Jesus.  I feel a lot like that man, who was healed through the faith of his friends.  Community is a beautiful thing.

I gather that I will still need physical therapy, and the vitamins, and maybe even the ugly shoes to restore my body to its proper order.  {{thank you, Father, for the way your healing can come in practical, everyday ways!}}  But I'm praising God today for the reminder that when we call out to Him, He is faithful to answer us.  The physical healing I received this weekend is a signpost to me of a spiritual reality.  In the face of our delinquency, God is merciful.  He meets our brokenness with boundless grace.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Matthew 7:7


Josh Michael said...

AWESOME!!! That is so great Chelsea!

mom said...

As usual you inspire me. I wish everyone could know you as I do!

David Freeman said...

My issue is thinking that I haven't done enough for God recently to ask him for healing - despite experience that He WILL heal.