Dear Family of St John’s
My youngest son was given the nickname ‘Bubble Boy’ many years ago. This is due to how accident prone he was. He managed to injure himself in every single show that he took part in. There were a lot of shows, and a lot of injuries. And so, he was named Bubble Boy by the cast of one of the shows.
But, he didn’t save his injuries just for shows. No. He had a real knack for injuries.
The first serious injury I can recall involved him hurtling down a gravel driveway on his little black pushbike. Do you remember those bikes that all children have at some stage? Well, he was about two years old and heading for a busy road. Fortunately, he fell off the bike before he reached the road. He cut himself just above his lip and still has a faint scar today.
He slipped on a guava and tore tendons in his ankle, needing to wear a moon-boot for six weeks and hop around on crutches. He still doesn’t have full sensation in that foot.
He managed to knock himself out while administering First Aid at a rugby game while still at school. He was actually a fabulous first aider, the ground was just slippery with a hard object nearby to collide with his head when he fell. Fortunately, the rugby guys were able to carry him off the field.
He’s torn the meniscus in both his knees, and had surgery on both knees. This happened on separate occasions, at least. He was told after these surgeries that he would need to stop his dancing. Running long distances and certain exercise was limited. And he would need to be careful.
Naturally, I wanted to wrap him up in bubble wrap. I was ready to create a literal ‘bubble boy’.
I worried when I saw him still stretching and exercising, going to gym and lifting weights, running, still doing shows, still dancing. My heart would stop when I went to watch a show and saw the dance routines and him dropping into the splits, or leaping into the splits mid-air – that’s worse!
But I started seeing other things too. I noticed how much attention he was paying to strengthening certain muscles to give stability to his knees. I noticed how focused he was on making sure that his form was correct in weightlifting and dancing. I saw how he would strap, and ice, and massage, and stretch after exercise. I saw the preventative and strengthening measures that he was taking so that he could continue doing what he needed to do. And, do it better.
I’ve seen him overcome obstacles to keep moving forward. And, it’s made me think about the similarities in our Christian walk.
Where are your weaknesses? What are your ‘temptation points’? Do you have weak knees, dodgy hips, frozen shoulders? Is your eyesight dim, your hearing fading? Metaphorically speaking, of course.
What are you doing to strengthen those weak areas, so that you can keep doing what you need to do, what God wants you to do?
We all have weaknesses spiritually. We all have areas where we seem to slip up, over and over again. Perhaps it’s taking control of our thoughts, or spending time in reading the Bible. Maybe it’s our impatient attitude, or our quick anger. Maybe it’s an addiction to something that’s not glorifying of God – a relationship, where we spend our time, a substance. We all have something that trips us up. And Satan repeatedly throws this ‘something’ in our path.
How do we deal with it? Do we listen to those voices that tell us we can never move beyond that weakness, never improve? Or do we put safeguards into place to strengthen our resolve, to help us through those tricky patches, to hold us accountable?
Many years ago, before I was ordained, God has a serious chat with me about getting my life back on track. I knew that I needed to be held accountable to attend church. Choosing a lazy Sunday morning in bed or a trip to the beach was just too tempting. My solution was to volunteer to read in services, to serve teas, to give lifts to others needing to go to church. I had to get up on a Sunday and go to church because others needed me there. This helped me establish a discipline while those lazy mornings still called so strongly.
We need to identify and address our areas of spiritual weakness so that we can overcome and move beyond them. God is with us every step of the way, encouraging us, giving us the tools to make us stronger, picking us up when we stumble, and helping us to move forward again. Let us not allow our areas of weakness and temptation to stop us from doing what God has planned for us. With His help, we can overcome them.
Your friend and rector,