Two weeks ago, I had a close encounter with the sidewalk. I caught my foot on a stump and found myself on the ground bleeding and in pain. Some stitches and a cast later, my routine has changed: no more going non-stop grabbing breakfast and dashing off to work.
I function at turtle pace. Preparing my lunch takes planning. My limitations teach me lessons I’d prefer not to learn, at least not THIS way. Here are three of them:
1. Being a member of the body of Christ means receiving as well as giving.
The body of Christ and my larger community of friends amaze and humble me. My capable teaching assistant took over my English class. I had a ride to an appointment. A friend washed my dishes. Friends and even my students appeared at my door with meals: nutritious beef stew, chicken soup, comfort food or a massive Afghan meal of meat and rice studded with orange peel, raisons and almonds. I want to provide for others—at least for myself. But in the crash course of Accidents 101, my Tutor gives me lessons on saying “yes” to assistance offered, and even lessons on asking for help.
2. I’m not indispensable.
When I do something well, that makes me happy. I get a sense of accomplishment from watching my students learn English. I enjoy finishing a baby quilt for my grandson. Those things aren’t bad. But when weakness and injury sap my strength and energy, I have no choice but to look to God. I needed to make 180 gift tags for a giving tree at church. God gave my dear friend a creative idea for including that project as an international student activity. When weakness plagues me, God shows himself strong.
3. Ultimate satisfaction comes from God.
I teach refugees English. Laughing with my students, explaining the different between, “I cooked my family for dinner” and “I cooked dinner for my family” brings us both smiles and joy. But even that wonderful job is a poor source of ultimate satisfaction. I’ve had time to think about the right role of work in my life as I spent time away from teaching. Tim Keller, in his book Every Good Endeavor*, wrote that when we make an idol of something, we are “…imagining and trusting … [it] to deliver the control, security, significance, satisfaction, and beauty that only the real God can give.” Work is a good gift from God. But belonging to God through the work of Christ is my source of significance and satisfaction.
My stitches are out now. I’m amazed how quickly God enables bodies to heal. But as much as I look forward to getting my cast off, that stiff, blue wrapping around my wrist and thumb reminds me to say, “yes” to help, to recognize God’s strength in my weakness, and to remind me that my value comes from belonging to Him.
*Keller, Tim, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (Penguin Books, 2012).