My son doesn’t belong to me. He was born into another family and came to our family about six and a half years ago as we became his foster parents. Without saying too much, let me just say, he came with some “baggage.” But he also came with a winsome smile, an undying curiosity and sweet personality.
One afternoon when we were living in Pearisburg, I got a phone call from the high school, and thinking, “Oh, no, here we go again,” (due to the fact that I had hardly ever gotten good news in those phone calls), I heard a voice saying “There has been an accident, we need you to come immediately, . . .” and several other things that grabbed my attention and sent me to the car as soon as possible.
What had happened is that this young man had been playing a little pick-up game of basketball after lunch in the school gym with some other guys. He loves the game, and is highly competitive, so in his effort to win, he had over-jumped and came down hard on his leg, fracturing it just below the knee, making a clean break. He was in severe pain when I got there. The EMTs told me everything was all right, but his tears and grimacing look told me otherwise. We went to the hospital, then a surgeon’s office, and soon he was nurturing his broken leg.
The biggest challenge was getting him to his room at home. He had a room on the second floor, and there just wasn’t any good way to get up there except awkwardly leaning on his crutches, holding the handrail and more or less hopping on one foot from step to step. It wasn’t smooth at all, and I felt for him, but knew he had to overcome this challenge, like many others in his life, on his own. I could watch, advise, and sympathize, but I really couldn’t do it for him.
There are many times in life we feel like we’re dancing on one leg. Something comes along and throws us a curve, and suddenly we’re awkwardly trying just to stand, sometimes falling again and again. We can get help in the form of sympathy, even assistance, but it’s up to us to learn to walk again and find our way in this world. No one else can do that for us.
People of faith are finding themselves more and more in that position. Where once the Church was a strong moral influence in the nation and world, we are finding ourselves challenged on all fronts. People of diverse faith traditions and no faith at all are gaining a strong foothold in our culture and government. Many things we once took for granted have been increasingly taken from us. We are finding ourselves increasingly losing our voice in the world, silenced by those who say our faith oppresses them.
And within the fractured faith of our modern church, we find ourselves struggling to remain relevant in a world that seems unwilling to hear what faith has to say. The United Methodist Church, of which I am a part, has struggled, as all the mainline churches have, with remaining united in a time when issues of our times have so severely divided us. The solution to our unity remains elusive. We have people who argue for theological innovation based on human experience while others argue for integrity to scriptural authority no matter what modern people think. Each part of the church struggles to stand on their own weak and wounded leg, grasping awkwardly for assistance, looking for a way to gain ground while faltering and falling again.
Our God calls us to get up again, working together to help each other up. Standing takes balance, and will, and struggle, and mutual assistance. Our world may upset the balance, and even our own divisions may knock us to the floor again, but God is the God who raises us up, produces healing in the weak joints and promises to bring together the sinews and give us strength once again by simply trusting in God’s power to save. We are dancing on one leg, but with God grace will be restored.
It really isn’t as bad as it seems. People of faith can always look forward to resurrection. And with time, healing will happen. And we will become strong. And we will stand. Keep the faith. Look up. Walk on, O people of God.