True confession – I am not the most graceful person you will ever meet.
Ever since I can remember, I have been prone to bumping into things and tripping over my own feet. When I was growing up, my dad would always tell me I was like a bull in a china shop. I hated hearing that, but deep down I knew he was right. Even as a young adult, it was not uncommon for me to notice bruises on my legs or arms where I had bumped into a table or other piece of furniture and not even remember doing it. I guess I get so focused on things sometimes that I don’t pay careful attention to where I am going. And my body shows plenty of wear and tear because of it.
Fast forward to today. As a not-as-young-as-I-once-was adult, the thing that goes “bump” in the night is usually me fumbling around in the dark. “Turn a light on, ” my husband says. “I don’t need one,” I reply. “Women,” says he as he rolls over and tries to go back to sleep.
Over this past weekend, in broad daylight and in full view of all the neighbors (had there actually been any of them around at the time), I did it again. I fell and, for the umpteenth time, twisted an ankle. Only this time, I not only twisted an ankle, I also sprained the other foot on the way down and did a full frontal splat onto the sidewalk in front of our house, bruising both hands and a knee and causing soft tissue damage to a shoulder and both arms.
After about ten minutes sitting on the ground crying from the pain and embarrassment, I eventually was able to pull myself up only to realize I could put no weight at all on my left foot and could not move my toes. Lovely. Just freakin’ lovely.
Somehow I managed to make it to the car and run the most urgent of the errands I had set out to do and get back to the house (the ones that involved a drive-through window, like the bank). All the while, I could feel my feet swelling inside my shoes and the pain growing more intense.
Once home, I tried to shake it off, telling myself that it would soon wear off, but it wasn’t long before I had to face the inevitable truth – I was really injured. I had to call David home from work to take me to the emergency room. Diagnosis: one twisted ankle and one severely sprained foot and various soft tissue injuries. Ace bandages, an air splint, crutches and a prescription for a controlled substance to manage the pain and I was on my way home with strict orders regarding rest, ice, compression and elevation. Oh, joy.
Try as I might, I don’t do “inactive” very well. I hate it. I feel useless and helpless and I hate it. As far as I am concerned, I would rather just be knocked out to sleep it off and wake up when I can move again. Have I mentioned that I hate it?
During this forced downtime, I keep hearing one thing:
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace,
who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7)
My feet are anything but beautiful right now. Not that they were winning any foot beauty contests before, but now they are bruised, swollen and hurt like you-know-what. And they are presently incapable of carrying out the full purpose for which they were designed.
How appropriate. That’s pretty much the way I feel these days myself.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that the Lord has me in this place for a purpose, and deep down in my heart, I know I am where I belong right now. But some days I just don’t feel it. Some days I do not feel beautiful in my current calling. Some days I feel ugly and bruised and swollen and not very useful.
Even so, I bring good news, and I proclaim peace. The Hebrew word for peace in this verse is “shalom.” It means completeness (in number), soundness & safety (in body), welfare (health & prosperity), peace (quietness, tranquility, contentment).
I proclaim salvation. The word used here is the Hebrew “yeshua,” meaning salvation, deliverance, welfare, prosperity, victory.
I say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” While the word “Zion” is often used to refer to a geographical location, usually as another name for Jerusalem, it literally means “parched place.”
Sometimes walking out our current calling comes easily, naturally, organically. Other times, it takes a conscious choice to keep putting one foot in front of the other in a place that feels foreign, unnatural and anything but easy. In every place we find ourselves, He is continuing to transform us into His image, growing us, maturing us, making us more like Him. There are teachable moments in all of it, if we are willing to listen and watch for them.
Sometimes, when we feel the least “useful” to the Kingdom, when we feel like nothing we are doing really matters in the overall scheme of things, when we feel like no one is listening to the message we have in our hearts to speak, the only audience we need to be speaking to is ourselves. Sometimes the only one I need to concern myself with hearing what I have to say is me.
The psalmist got this. “Why so downcast, oh my soul? Put your hope in God.” He spoke to his own innermost being, encouraging himself, admonishing himself, reminding himself where his true source lies – in God.
So, even in my imperfect state, bruised, swollen, hurting and not feeling very useful, I can still choose to proclaim shalom (completeness, soundness, safety, health, prosperity, quietness, tranquility and contentment) and yeshua (salvation, deliverance, welfare, prosperity and victory), and I can say to the parched places (even those within my own heart), “Your God reigns!”
And He calls me beautiful.