Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I suppose I'll start with things that have been going on. As I mentioned recently, I've been having some problems with my feet lately... lately as in the past two years. I went to physical therapy Monday and today and THAT was a blast... lots of stretching and pain and things. I'm excited to see the end result though. Whew.
I'm often reminded of the time when the pain first started in Ukraine, and all the problems. Had no idea why I felt as awful as I did but I would wake up to my leg throbbing in pain. I drank water (lots!) in case it was dehydration, but it did NOTHING. I wore tennis shoes some days to see if it would make a difference in the way I felt and it didn't. I know now that the problem was the lack of support for my feet. It's nice to be informed, sometimes.
Whenever I think of all those foot/leg problems, I'm also reminded of how good God is. Not because I think of how much worse it could have been but because of how obviously He provided for me then... and how He provides now.
The moment when we're shaking because our muscles have exhausted, when we can't go on one more step.
The moment when we're crying because we don't know what to do.
The moment when we look up and then quickly look down because we know we've exerted so much and forgotten to rely on Him in the rush of the moment... and still come up short.
The things I've just listed remind me a lot of what I was feeling in Athens two years ago as we ran to the bus, 2o minutes or so late. I've never felt so much like I could NOT go on before. My mind was yelling, "Run, run, run!" and my poor legs argued, "No! We can't!" My mind must not be a very good listener because I kept running. There are lots of good reasons for this:
1. we were late.
2. everyone else was running.
3. I didn't want to get yelled at.
4. something to do with pride.
It was a really hot, humid day in Athens, Greece, the day before the "Worldmissions Team" returned to America after a month in Ukraine/Africa. We were on a bus tour of Greece and had stopped for lunch. My group, vehemently opposing the very convenient McDonalds, decided to get actual Greek food... we went in search of the perfect place which took quite some time. It took awhile to order too, and we had to sit and eat in the little cafe. Suddenly we realized that we had about five minutes before we needed to be back at the bust and it would be at least a fifteen minute walk/run.
I hit the point where I couldn't go on anymore too far away from the bus. I got a Charley Horse in my leg and it throbbed. I remember Jillian turning around and me telling her to go ahead, but she stayed with me (which I actually wanted her to do all along). Then a couple other people stayed behind too, trying to get me to walk faster and asking what was wrong. We made it to the bus really late. I was so afraid of what the leaders would say and as soon as we got on the bus they started teasing me for being so slow. At that point I lost it. I was in pain, I was late, I was being teased... I don't think I actually sobbed but I know I cried visibly. It was so embarrassing.
I remember the teasing quite well but what I remember most is how nice people were. I remember Oksana's concerned face telling me that they were only teasing, they didn't mean to make me cry, Victoria offering to help by massaging my calves (that hurt sooo bad... but felt better in the long-run), someone giving me peanut m&ms, several people trying to make me laugh. I did laugh, and I did feel better. I stayed on the bus when we stopped at Corinth but someone else offered to take pictures for me so I could show them to my family when I got home. People asked me how I was doing all the rest of that day and genuinely cared. It was hard to accept though I didn't have much of a choice. Definitely knocked out some of that pride.
The pain is still not fun (it's never been that bad again, thank goodness!) but it does occasionally bring back the memory of that day. I prayed for God to stop the pain. He didn't. I asked Him to make it go away and never come back. He didn't. Instead, He allowed my prideful self to be humbled as someone rubbed my calves (I'm pretty sure that's right up there with having ones feet washed). He allowed me to see how His Body worked... and also showed me how I'd failed during that trip in ministering to others, in encouraging them.
And how does He provide now? Oh, don't worry, He still works on the pride thing. Sometimes He uses my feet, other times He uses His people, His word, a good look in the mirror...
He also reminds me quite often that He works in mysterious ways, that He is way beyond my understanding, and that His answers will supersede my expectations and finite prayers a huge percentage of the time!
I hadn't thought about any of this in a long time but talking to a friend tonight about how God works in His own timing reminded me that God works in His own way also... and that when we look back we often see Him orchestrating all kinds of things that truly do amaze me.
As strange as it sounds, I thank Him for my feet which are, fittingly, hurting quite badly right now. Through them, He's taught me a lot. I am looking forward to no pain from them in the near future (I hope!) but I am sure that He's not done using my feet to teach me painful lessons. Quite literally.
[* - yes, those ugly things are mine. the problem you see, is that they are pronated (they look even worse from the back but it's quite difficult to get a picture of the back of oneself)... I never realized how much they look like Hobbit feet...]