This past winter, in mid-February, we had a snow / ice storm which left a few inches of snow on the ground covered by a nice layer of ice. Nice that is for sledding! It came down at the end of the week so on Saturday I took my kids sledding at nearby Brandywine Creek State Park. It was great, the ice covering was so hard you didn’t sink down and all. The sleds went very fast down the hill! I took a turn and found out that plastic sleds are very hard to steer on ice. I ended up tumbling off of the sled which didn’t seem like a big deal, at least not right away.
After I got up and made the way to the top of the hill, I realized the pain in my left hand wasn’t going away. I took off my glove and saw that my pinky finger was very swollen and it was throbbing with pain. I didn’t sled any more that day and 10 days later when I realized it was still hurting a fair amount and was still very swollen, I went to see the doctor. The x-ray easily confirmed I had broken it!
It has been about 6 weeks now and for the past 2 weeks, I have been getting hand therapy to regain proper movement and range of motion in the hand and finger. It’s kind of a silly thing – breaking your little finger while sledding with your kids, but the healing process has reminded me that transformation to a renewed finger doesn’t happen quickly or at one time.
I recently read this article called True (and False) Transformation by John Ortberg, published by Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal in the summer of 2002. I highly recommend reading this article it full. It brings to light some behaviors and actions that trap many of us in the church. A major point that I was reminded of was how easily we can forget what true transformation is and what is required to have it.
John points out two counterfeits that we who profess to follow Christ tend to pass off as transformation:
- Settling for the minimum
- Only look the part
He also discusses Paul’s words of the way to true transformation in Romans and 1 Corinthians. Here we are reminded that there is a major difference between doing something versus training to do something. It is a subtle point, but a very major one when it comes to spiritual transformation. We would do well to remember our limitations and to train well and be prepared. As John says in the article,
If the Holy Spirit is calling you to break patterns of sin, merely
trying leads to frustration, but deliberately training leads to change.
As I endure the therapy and the painful exercises to stretch and lengthen the tendons in my finger, I think about how we must do similar stretching and enduring of sometimes painful spiritual exercises in order to be transformed into the person God wants us to be. No matter how hard I try or how much I want it, I cannot will my finger into being healed. It requires lots of training.