Posted by: Andrew | April 25, 2011

Immobility, Pain and Faith 3

How do I live out my faith when that has always involved being busy and moving around and now I’m stuck at home sitting still? This was for me a significant question. As I’ve sat for several days now I’ve felt frustration at the situation I’m in and not knowing how long it might go on for. So what does a vibrant Christian faith look like in this situation when for years (over 20) it’s been lived out through activity.

Before I would have known the answer. I’d have said I’d relish the time to sit and pray and read the Bible. I’d become a more godly person. This is one of those comments that you can only make outside of the situation. Just like all the ideas about parenthood my wife and I had before we had children. We knew what good parenting looked like and we were going to carry it out effectively. Then the reality of independent children, sleepless nights and wanting some peace and quiet hit! Well it’s been the same now. Deciding to pray and read the Bible might be what some people manage but a combination of morphine and pain have limited my ability to do either. I just don’t feel like it. Actually with the weather being so good I have just sat and not done much at all and been content. I haven’t had the energy for profound thoughts or reading much. It’s partly why I’m writing this now and haven’t kept a day by day diary.

So what is a godly life to look like. As the drugs have started to work better it has included some reading of the Bible and prayer, but it seems that there must also be more than that. I recently preached on 1 Peter and looked at how Peter exhorted holiness amongst his readers. He even exhorts holiness amongst 2 groups in society who have very restricted lives. Who might be physically mobile but who’s life was restricted in so many ways. These were salves and wives. I don’t think wives should be treated like slaves but I suspect that if you asked a wife from back then she would have said that she was treated like one. Yet Peter exhorts them to live holy lives and gives challenging examples of how they might do this (some of which sit very uncomfortably to our modern ears).

As I sat in the garden last week this sermon came back to me with the challenge of what does it mean to be holy with my new restrictions? Seeing people is one of the things I do so how can I be holy in my treatment of them is limited to sitting and chatting? Is this an opportunity for me to strengthen my underdeveloped patience muscle?

Finding ourselves in a place of restriction it is tempting to think that God has nothing for us to do. That we can only be effective when active. Yet these days have forced me to reconsider that for myself. This week is Easter when Christ became increasingly restricted and immobile resulting in him being nailed to the cross. Surely if there was a moment when one could do nothing for God that was it. Yet in that act of restriction Jesus spoke forgiveness for his killers, gave comfort to the thief being crucified next to him, arranged for the care of his mother and in taking on himself the sins of the world open the way for all humanity to be reconciled with God. That’s a pretty impressive list.

I don’t know how long this immobility will last (it’s starting to ease slightly) but I do have the hope that God isn’t sighing with frustration that I’m not being active for him. The challenge is to see the new opportunities that this immobility brings and to rise to them.

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