For 6 or 8 years now I have suffered with some foot discomfort from a condition known as Morton’s neuroma. It’s damage to the nerves in the balls of the feet that is, I’m told, the result of years of wearing high heeled, narrow toed, insufficiently padded shoes. It all came to a point of acute pain several years ago following a weekend at a place where I was on my feet a lot and I wore a little pair of thin, flat (but quite cute!) sandals. I had to have cortizone shots in my feet and now wear much more sensible wider toebox flats with layers of cushioning. There are times, however, when I wear a certain shoe too often or too long at the time and my feet ache fiercely.
Recently, I was having a career planning session with my senior pastor, discussing future plans for my employment within the church once I complete my master’s degree program in counseling and psychology. In the course of the conversation we were discussing some difficult circumstances that have me currently in a condition of impasse, or limbo, in making some decisions about the future. I told him that one part of me – the rose colored glasses, cockeyed optimistic, redemption experiencing, Romans 8:28 part of me – knows that God can resolve the circumstances in ways that I can’t even yet begin to imagine. On the other hand, the more cautious, realistic, increasingly less naive part of me knows that God sometimes chooses to allow circumstances to remain as they are and expects us to trust Him for the grace needed to get through each day in the midst of them. He said that I might have to, in other words, “learn to walk with a limp”, just as the patriarch Jacob had to learn to walk with a limp after wrestling with the Lord. (Genesis 32:22-32) And, as someone else reminded me, just as the apostle Paul had to do in learning to live with the “thorn in the flesh”. (2 Corinthians 12:7)
I think in some ways, all of us who have sought a deeper, more intimate, “first name basis” relationship with God “walk with a limp.” We cannot wrestle with the issues of evil in the world, the sin of humanity, our own sinfulness before God, our need for a redeemer, or the impossibility of being anything remotely akin to “good” without the enobling presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives in our journey toward knowing the nature of the Creator and Redeemer of mankind and come away from such an encounter without evidence of the battle.
F0r me in the circumstances about which my pastor and I spoke, I do not know which outcome will prevail. I continue in that difficult place of waiting on the Lord, striving with all I have to learn to do so in a posture of restful patience. It is easier at some times than others, but even in those moments when I feel that I can transcend and live above the circumstances, I still limp.