I’ve had an injured knee for about two and half years.
I had surgery for it in October (after years of exhausting all other options) and supposedly should be able to run right now.
At least, not yet.
And it’s not like I was a crazy, hardcore runner before – I wasn’t. In fact, I didn’t “do” anything to injure my knee. It just started hurting one day – and then it never stopped.
I promise I’m not whining. I’m not. Maybe I am.
But hear me out: I’m extremely thankful for my overall health, the use of my limbs, the food on my table, the roof over my head, the health of my family – it’s all abundantly more than I could have ever asked for.
And I’m so thankful for it.
But chronic pain….it does something to a person after years go by. Especially when people keep telling you “it will get better in X number of months” over and over and over and months go by and it doesn’t get better and you’re left wondering why.
And chronic pain…it never lets you forget. It’s there when you turn over in bed, it’s there when you walk down the stairs, it’s there when you wake up and it’s there when you go to sleep. It’s there when you can’t dance at weddings. It’s there when you watch people play frisbee. It’s there when you fall trying to sit on the floor. It’s just there.
And now I really am whining. Sorry. Over now.
Two weeks ago, recovery for my knee took a bad turn, and not only did it scare me, it absolutely brought me to my knees.
I’d spent so much time trying, trying, trying, praying, praying, praying, hoping, hoping, hoping…
And I was just finally done. Done. Done. Done.
And I told God as much. I’m all for being real, so I’ll be real: I yelled at God. YELLED at Him. YELLLLLLLLED at Him like I don’t think I’ve ever yelled at anyone before in my entire life. (I was alone in the house. I might have scared the cats, though. I haven’t asked them.)
My angry, tear-filled rant sounded something like this, but only after I chucked my bible study onto the ground for dramatic effect: “I’ve been faithful to You. I’ve done everything every doctor has ever told me to do. And all the while, I’ve read the Bible and I’ve tried to trust You and I’ve stayed positive and I’ve looked for the bright side in this whole thing and I’ve prayed and I’ve asked You for healing EVERY DAY FOR YEARS and I know you CAN heal but YOU WON’T ANSWER ME! WHY WON’T YOU HEAL ME?!”
Then I cursed. At God. With my finger pointed all crooked and accusing in His direction. Again and again.
I know. My whole face burns with embarrassment as I write this. See my sin in all its ugliness: I cursed at the face of my Creator. At the One who loved me before I knew love. I cursed at Perfect Love Himself. At perfect Holiness and Purity. I cursed at the one I’d already nailed to the cross.
But then something even crazier and more scandalous happened.
He met me there.
I didn’t scare Him away. He wasn’t angry at me. I wasn’t struck down by lightning. I wasn’t given an “F” on my Christian Report Card.
Instead, over the next few days, I felt Him bending down nearer and nearer, leaning in, gently whispering, “Thanks for being honest with Me. You can trust me with all of you. I love you. I want all of you. I want intimacy with you. I don’t want your mask. I already know what’s underneath. I knew every word you’d spoken to me before you spoke it. And I still love you. I always will. You can’t change how I feel about you.”
It absolutely scandalized me. And confused me. I was slightly offended, in fact.
Because I hadn’t been good. I’d been ugly. But He didn’t punish me. Things aren’t supposed to work that way, right? Not in the economy of perfectionism.
Perfect Love tends to do that to perfectionism – exposes it for the fake security that it is.
“There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18, emphasis mine).
Can I fast forward to today?
Two weeks later from when I cursed at God and walked out on Him and called Him names?
Today, Michael and I walked 4 miles. Outside. In the sunshine.
And it felt ah-mazing!! Did you just read that?
I WALKED 4 MILES.
It didn’t hurt! At all!
I literally can’t remember the last time Michael and I have been able to do that together.
In fact, over the past two weeks, my physical therapist has been amazed at the sudden spurt of growth and progress I’ve had in my knee.
I’ve done more in the past two weeks than I’ve been able to do in the past two years – all with little to no pain.
All this outpouring of blessing. All this answered prayer. And all….after I failed God. After I cursed at the Healer Himself and accused the Faithful One of being unfaithful. After I walked out on Him.
I’ve never been more in love with Jesus. And not because my knee is doing well. I do love that, but that’s not why I love Him more.
It’s because when I let Him see me, really see me, He still liked me.
I let Him in on the good, the bad, the ugly, and He didn’t turn away.
He welcomed me, anger and all. I was fully known. Fully accepted. Fully loved. Fully hemmed in, behind and before.
He didn’t punish me for spewing anger His way. He didn’t make my knee worse. (Yes. I was actually afraid of that.)
On the contrary, like David said, God actually blessed me in the weeks that followed:
“When I was beleaguered and bitter…in Your very presence…I’m still in Your presence, but You’ve taken my hand. You wisely and tenderly lead me, and then You bless me” (psalm 73:21-24 msg version, emphasis mine).
I did apologize for treating God badly – for being mean to Him. That’s not how I would have talked to a friend. To my dad. To myself.
But He “made me lie down in green pastures…He restored my soul” (psalm 23 v. 2-3).
He made me lie down. He brought me to my knees.
And then He raised me up.
I’ve never felt more secure or loved…or calm. All of a sudden, I’m praying all day. I’m not trying to, I just am. I’m just talking with Someone who already knows and already loves.
Y’all. With confidence: we can trust Him. We can trust Him. We can trust Him.
You can’t scare Him off. And you certainly can’t out-perform Him.
Perfect Love won’t punish us. He punished Himself for us.
It’s scandalous. Scandalous grace.
Blessings, sunshine, fresh air, and long walks to you,