“Take up your [cast] and walk”

Healing is hard work.

I have to say…whether a healing is sudden via divine intervention or surgical intervention, the work simply isn’t through yet.

So far in my service here on board Mercy Ships, I have spent the majority of my shifts caring for patients who have undergone either plastic or orthopedic surgery. In both cases, the surgery “fixes” the problem–joints and bones are straightened. However, I have learned very quickly that the discipline of wearing special garments and completing one’s exercises is EQUALLY as important as the work of the surgeon.

Today I was suddenly reminded of the incident in which Jesus healed a lame man:
(Complete story can be found in Matthew 9, Mark 2 or Luke 5)

18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” Luke 5:18-26

There are so many great things to glean from this passage of scripture, but I am going to zoom in on verse 24. Anyone notice how Jesus specifically tells the man to pick up his mat? I know the common interpretation of that instruction is that Jesus was making a statement about the silly man-made criteria for following the Sabbath at that time in history. What if, instead, there is something here to be said about rehabilitation? The Pharisee’s saw the act of carrying his mat home to be a sign of work–and therefore a violation of the Sabbath. Jesus saw a man with newly functioning legs (and maybe arms too. We don’t know just how paralyzed he was.) that still needed to be rehabilitated. It struck me today that Jesus’ command to the paralyzed man is a beautiful picture of the symbiotic relationship of faith and works. By FAITH the man came to the source of healing and stood. By WORKS the man undertook the task assigned him and began the journey home.

Our patients go through a very similar process. With great faith and difficulty, they journey toward hope. If we are able to provide the surgery they need, they are immediately changed in an anatomical sense. However, it is through their hard work and discipline that function is fully restored to the affected area of the body.

So it is with us.
When we submit our lives to the Source of hope and healing, we receive salvation from our brokenness and deformity. Spiritual rehabilitation certainly won’t make us “more” saved; but discipline will positively contribute to the restoration of our newly repaired hearts as we journey toward our eternal home.

“Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive,because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:7-10

Below is the link to over 300 photos of the 101 orthopedic patients we provided surgery to. That number does not include the patients of the Ponseti clinic (corrective casting for clubbed feet).


Go the distance

Sometimes I wish I was God.

Ok, don’t stone me. I know that I am not and will never be anywhere close to assuming the role of my Lord, Savior, and Comforter. Won’t happen.

I just…wish I didn’t have the constraints of this physical body and mind. I wish time did not confine me or cloud my vision.

Time and space.
Necessary for my survival, but annoying to my impatient spirit.

Ultimately, what I’m getting at is my annoyance with “the process.” Don’t get me wrong–sometimes the journey is wonderful and I just want to soak it all in. But sometimes I’m just darn ungrateful for the merciful buffer that time and space provide between one destination and the next…or one life stage and the next. I know full well that I need to grow up and be patient. I need to open a deck of cards and “deal with it”. Or find a bridge and “get over it”.

Watch this for a quick laugh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZVGxkDLtfo

Ever since I was young, I had always wished that the Star Trek version of transportation would be invented: “Beam me up Scotty!” However, if I take the time to consider its implications, I would soon realize the shock I would be afforded. If I were “beamed” from my living room in Connecticut, U.S.A. to the streets of Tamatave, Madagascar…I would have had no time to process my “goodbyes” or acclimate to a new culture. If I had been transported magically from nursing school graduation to Mercy Ships, I would have lacked the skills I needed to care for such a wide variety of patients with a 100% language barrier.

I could go on. And I’m sure there are many more examples popping into your head as well. Our minds simply NEED time. I know I have to embrace the process of growth. I know I must embrace the process of time. But how do you do that when the process of embracing the process is such a…PROCESS!

I need grace. So much grace.
I need faith. A measure of faith sufficient to face whatever stands in front of me.
I have hope. I love and serve a God who has never forsaken me, left me knocked down, or betrayed my trust. My God is love and correction. And my God never fails.


Speaking of distance: I have spoken in previous blogs about the lengths many Malagasy must go to in order to reach us. Here are some photos from our more rural screenings: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10208208170751490.1073741851.1518764093&type=1&l=75da3d8563