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Jo 23It is a well-known fact in our family that I am quite skilled at being clumsy. Even I admit I qualify well for the title of ‘klutz’ that my children have readily bestowed on me over the years. But one recent Sunday afternoon, I excelled myself. While out walking on a completely flat bike track near our home, I managed to turn my ankle and, unable to right myself, landed full length on that very hard surface with a resounding splat.

I sat there for some time, waiting for the shock to wear off and that wave of sickness to go. Then I turned around and noticed a small section of tree branch lying nearby on the path. Was this what had made my left foot roll onto its side? It looked so harmless and insignificant—no wonder I had missed seeing it. Then again, I had been walking along, thinking about all sorts of things, instead of watching where I put my feet.

With the help of a passing cyclist, I managed to stand up. But as soon as I tried to walk, I knew something was wrong. On top of that, my right arm did not feel the best either. I limped to the next street and sank down on a nearby wall, before phoning my husband to come and rescue me.

The next morning, we headed to Concord Hospital and discovered that, while my arm had no breaks, I had chipped some bone off the base of my ankle. My foot was duly put in plaster and I hobbled out to the car on crutches, feeling somewhat sorry for myself.

It had taken only a small piece of wood lying on a wide, flat path to bring me down—literally. Yet, as I thought about it, I realised how often that same thing happens in my life on a different level as well. While I might remember to look to God to help me face those bigger challenges that come my way, it is so often the little, daily challenges I regard as unimportant or overlook entirely that can cause me to stumble. How many times do I look to God for strength to speak somewhere, for example—just as I had when preaching in the morning service at our church on the same day I fell over? Yet how many more times do I ignore or not even notice those little things in my life that dishonour God on a daily basis? How often do I choose to pass on that piece of gossip or tell that half truth or be jealous of another’s success or stay angry or lose patience with someone?

Next time I walk along that bike track near us, I plan to watch out for those little bits of branch that have fallen onto it. And next time I am in danger of stumbling in one of these ‘small’ ways Paul mentions in both Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4, I hope I will choose a better path. After all, I don’t want to break any more bones. But, much more importantly, I don’t want to hurt God either.

How about you? Are you watching how and where you walk?

Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col 3:12

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At the moment, my husband has a broken arm.  He managed to trip while out bushwalking with a friend and, as a result, his arm is broken in two places, necessitating a full caste.  Now one of the key drawbacks out of all this is that he can’t drive – which definitely ‘clips his wings’!   And of course there are other smaller drawbacks as well – like the inability to tie shoelaces, cut up food, mow the lawn and so on.

At first, my husband didn’t know his arm was broken.  He knew it hurt, but decided to wait until things settled down and he could describe exactly what was happening before seeking any medical help.  In fact, after walking home, he chose to keep his promise to our granddaughter to take her to the movies – after all, he’d already paid for the tickets online!  So he then drove her to the movie theatre, sat through ‘Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang’, had a milk shake and drove home again before deciding to go to the doctor.  A visit to the hospital then ensued and a few hours later, his arm had duly been x-rayed and encased in plaster.

Now I’m sure my husband has learnt a lot through this experience.  But as I have watched him struggle with various tasks and also deal with some degree of ‘after-shock’ and fear of falling again, it has caused me to reflect on how many times we all go about with ‘clipped wings’ in some form or another in our lives.  We might know we aren’t functioning fully as God would want us to – but we can’t say exactly how.  It may be we just don’t feel right – that we’re struggling in some area that once was easy, that we don’t seem to enjoy things as much, that we are dispirited or frustrated.  But we can’t put our finger on the exact cause of our pain or discomfort – so we just put up with it, perhaps deciding that this is the best we can hope for.

Or perhaps we know exactly what’s wrong – that our ‘arm’ is in fact broken and not just bruised or strained.  But perhaps we don’t want to face up what it will mean to have our broken parts attended to.  Or maybe we honestly don’t know where to find the help we need or even trust that the treatment offered will be effective.  On the other hand, perhaps we have actually learnt from past experience that the best course of action possible is to head straight for the ‘hospital’, to the One Who knows and sees exactly what the issue is and can do something about it.  And as we honestly admit to where it hurts and trust in the help God offers us, then we will truly be healed, strengthened and enabled to ‘fly’ again.  As Isaiah 40:30-31 says:

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  

And that’s wonderful news, don’t you agree?  So may you spread your wings fully this week and soar with all the strength God provides!

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