An unusual change has occurred in my life over the past few weeks. I have been able to walk around with bare feet for the first time in several years. As most of those who read this blog know, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2010. Even prior to my diagnosis, I daily walked on Crocs. In Ontario winters, I wore shoes outside, but my feet cried for their Crocs. They wanted the comfort of that thick layer of soft rubber: a pair for the shower and two other pairs, which I could either wear in the house or take with me when visiting in other homes.
I have been praying for years that God would heal my feet. They were the only joints left that the disease continues to pressurize after taking medications. Before the medications, I felt like The Tin Man without his oilcan. With the medications, I usually felt good with the exception of the many joints hidden under the balls of the feet.
Well, God sort of answered my prayer to heal my feet. Over the last three-to-four days, I have been walking on bare feet. It’s been weird! I don’t need to rub my feet at the end of the day or constantly feel like I need to crack a toe knuckle. I do not feel the urgency to have my feet massaged in my foot massager every night (best invention ever). It’s a very strange feeling not being dependent on my Crocs anymore.
However, just because I feel like my feet have healed--even if it’s just for a temporary period--does not mean the disease is gone. Now, my ankles “buzz”. The disease moved to some other joints. At the end of the day, rather than desiring to massage the bottom of my feet, I want to drill into my ankles. It is frustrating. To be honest, it’s concerning. I have an appointment with my Rheumatologist next week to discuss some of these new developments. Not knowing how this illness will develop, I trust the Lord day-by-day and seek His will for my health. HE is faithful!
Why do I share all of this information with you, my readers? There are two simple reasons. Firstly, I want to provide a brief update for many people who ask how I am doing with my RA. Secondly, I feel that an autoimmune disease can mimic our external realities. It is as if the disease ‘knows’ that we have made a change, so it adapts to its new surroundings.
Like sin, the disease follows one around and changes within the context. The physical discomfort is a constant reminder that I am broken. This physical reminder points to a spiritual one where I have to be keenly aware of the new types of sin and idols that exist here in North Carolina that did not exist in Ontario. I have reflected on many spiritual metaphors with this disease, but RA as a morphing disease is one helpful metaphor for me in this time of transition. Temptation, sin and evil, will manifest themselves in new ways in my new life here.
I wrote earlier that it is a very strange feeling not to depend on my Crocs anymore. Rather than Crocs, I depend on the Cross. The grace I receive from that sacrificial act of Christ supports and sustains me as it does everyone in Christ. In other words, the Cross is a constant reminder that, yes, we are broken. But the Cross saves. The Cross is our thick layer of rubber that protects us from the blows of sin. The point is that we are called daily to remember the Cross and our participation in its significance.
Our Lord identifies with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). This is a comforting reminder of the uniqueness and beauty of our God.
How are you keeping your spiritual radar alive in order to a) remember your brokenness, and b) surrender to Christ and Him crucified?
“God, you say we’re wonderfully and beautifully made, but why did you put so many joints in the foot?”
I am writing this blog in an airport in Baltimore. In an hour I will be boarding a plane to Buffalo. I'm heading to Canada to make some connections with folks in Hamilton as well as preach in my home town of Drayton. I have been anticipating this trip as it is always exciting visiting my hometown with friends and family here in Ontario. However, as I make this trip and continue to develop ministry partners, I arrive during a very difficult time for the Christian Reformed community. We have received word that the search for Tim Bosma is over. He was last seen alive driving away with two men whom he assumed were interested in purchasing his 3500 Dodge Ram truck. A week after he went into that truck for a test drive, this loving husband, father and disciple of Christ has been confirmed dead. He was a brother in Christ and a contributing member of the Ancaster Christian Reformed Church. For those of you who know anything about the CRC, that means that Tim is connected to a tight church community/family. Although I have never met him, he feels very much like a brother. As I read Facebook messages and read the endless articles online, it is amazing how many people who did know him personally feel this instant connection and intimacy to this tragedy. I am the same age as Tim, a husband, a father, and a life before me. This anxious knot in my stomach is there not only because he is a fellow CRC brother, but also because what happened to Tim could have happened to anyone. The injustice, evil, cruelty, and pain the family and so many others feel right now isn't fair. God, it isn't fair!
So as I travel and enter into a grieving community, I do so with a heavy heart. I do pray, ' Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus, come!' We continue to pray for the Bosma family. May the Lord give them a transcendent peace at this time that cannot be humanly explained. May the witness of your people be seen by the world and in so doing, may this world come to know a God who came to live in our context of suffering. May our world see Jesus who experienced the same unjust death as Tim. Jesus is the one who we turn to because His act on the Cross is the only thing that can make any sense during these dark times. We do not put our trust in a distant deity, we believe He experienced death Himself in Jesus Christ so that death will not be the final word. Until then, we point to Jesus and Him crucified.