June 9, 2016…it was a glorious, crisp, sunshiny, almost summer, early morning. I was cruising along on my seven mile run, keeping a good pace. With about 1-1/2 miles left, I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk, and as I flew through the air, I heard something tear. I wish it had been my shorts…
Alas, it was not. That fall gained me a spectacular injury. A torn LCL. Hamstring torn off the bone in two places. Immediate swelling and numbness. Relatively little pain. To repair the damage, I had knee surgery, a graft, screws, 7 weeks of crutches while non weight bearing, a knee brace, compression stockings for two weeks, and months and months of physical therapy. Even now, almost a year later, I’m barely back to running seven miles again, and I can feel all the tendons, ligaments and muscles whenever I do run.
As I’ve been back outside running and biking this spring, I’ve been extremely cautious. I am very aware of cracks in the sidewalks. I am rather skittish about being clipped in and one with my bike as I approach potential hazards while moving along on two very narrow tires.
My injury left visible physical scars, and also some unseen mental and emotional scars. I’ve been injured and I now know what running and biking can cost.
The cost can be quite high. Quite painful.
But, while I know the cost, and might be a bit skittish, I’ve never considered giving up my early morning runs and bike rides. Rather, all along, it’s been my goal to get back in the game.
Yesterday, on my bike ride, my thoughts went from my injury and recovery to things that scar us. And how we heal.
I thought about the church. So many, many believers have been hurt by the church. Horrendous things have been done in the name of Christ. Damage has been inflicted.
Too many have left, hoping to never darken the doors of church again. Except the church is much more than four walls and a roof. It is much more than any one local group. The church is the Body of Christ. We are placed in the church at the moment of salvation. A believer can leave a local group, but they can’t ever leave the church.
Sometimes we need to leave a congregation of believers and go somewhere that is healthier. But we can never leave church entirely, nor should we forsake the assembling of ourselves together.
And that’s the hard part, isn’t it. Because the church is the Body of Christ and is an organic entity made up of fallible human beings. Who sin. And hurt each other. Sometimes even deliberately.
Fresh injuries and old scars can make it hard to fellowship with the Body. We are skittish and cautious, knowing just how much the church can hurt. We have armor around our hearts-leery to be vulnerable and let anyone see our weaknesses or strengths.
Healing is a process.
Healing is different than amputation. Healing is the process of becoming sound or healthy again. Amputation is cutting off an injured part. In church life we may need to leave a particular fellowship for the sake of healing. But we need to be going forward with the plan of being an active, whole member of another local body.
In the healing process, there are surgeries, braces, crutches, ice packs, rest, stretches, and exercises involved. Literally for physical injuries, figuratively for intangible injuries.
We will certainly need helps in the healing process. Our ice packs, crutches and braces will often be the Word of God, the Holy Spirit (our Comforter), and loving believers who reach out to us in our pain.
Oh, and there will be painful stretches and exercises as we get back into the swing of things. We will feel twinges from our old scars. Things will be tight and stiff and even somewhat painful as we interact with other sinner-believers.
We take a risk on the local body, knowing that gathering is Christ’s plan. We know the potential cost, but we persevere.
The road to healing in the church lies along the path of love, tenderheartedness and forgiveness.
Hope that we can be part of a local, loving body right now.
The hope of healing and wholeness.
Hope in Christ. That He loved the church enough to give Himself for it. Hope in the fact that He is faithful and keeps His promises. Including the promise that even though the church is fallible, one day Christ will present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27 ESV)