With a fixed smile that matched her starched green apron, the hostess at the hotel restaurant informed me that I couldn’t have breakfast without a meal ticket from the front desk. Thanks to jet lag, I’d been up since 5:00am on this first morning of the Fresh Start East Asia trip, and by 8:00am I was more than ready for something to fill my stomach. I turned back towards the front desk to inquire about the meal ticket. But I didn’t notice the slight step down from the restaurant into the lobby area– until I felt a sudden searing pain in my right ankle. “Aarrgh!” I groaned inwardly as I rubbed the tender ankle, “I’m so tired of this!”
It’s been four long weeks since I fell down cement steps in Germany, spraining my right foot. The swelling has gone down, and the ugly purple and blue bruising has faded to a light yellowish-green. Now my doctor tells me I need to start moving my foot. I should be walking a bit so that it doesn’t get stiff and weak from lack of use. I put gentle pressure on it and carefully do the exercises I learned from a physical therapist. (Like writing the alphabet in the air with my toes.) But the strained muscles and tendons resist the effort.
And as soon as it feels like one area is starting to heal, I discover another area that is still weak. As was revealed by today’s miss-step in the hotel lobby. Yet I know this is all part of the healing process. It’s often painful, but if I want to be able to walk normally again I need to press on through each stage of recovery.
A friend of mine who’s been going through counseling says that God’s been working on her heart one layer at a time. The Holy Spirit has been revealing deep-rooted bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness toward her mother that has been buried for years. “As soon as I’ve dealt with one issue, another issue is revealed that I need to work on,” she confided in me recently. “I’ve been tempted to quit many times. But I know I have to keep going if I really want to move past this.”
Issues of the Heart
It’s God’s grace that we don’t have to deal with all the issues of the heart at once. He never gives us more than we can handle. The process may be slow and painful, and at times it may seem we’re not making any progress. But as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work, the Father will lead us, step by step, on the path to complete healing and wholeness in Christ.
“Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when He delights in our way. Though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.” Psalm 37:23-24, NRSV