“We’re all in this together. We’re in the same boat. Just keep doing what you’re good at. If it’s rowing, row. If it’s adjusting the sail, hurry! Looks like the wind is changing. If you’re more of a course charter, here…grab a map!” Romans 12:6-8 (RSV)
I love to water ski. I’m not particularly good, but I absolutely love it. I take that back, I love any water sports; swimming, boating, tubing, skiing, wakeboarding, anything. I love the water. I have actually acquired the nickname of ‘the fish’ from my group of friends back home. I am always up for a swim or a trip on the lake.
A few years back my group of best friends, which can only be called ‘the guys’ went to one of their lake houses up in Wisconsin. It was to be a complete and total guys hangout weekend. Lots of eating, hanging out on the lake, poker, cigars, fighting and talking of sports. A man’s weekend if you will. (1)
After a quick boat ride and dinner Friday, we had a late night poker tournament. After a long, grueling, drawn out process, I defeated the heavily favored Mark Tibbit in a heads up battle for the title. Does this have much to do with the story? No. I just thought you should know I was at one time a poker champion.
Anyway, after Blake’s drive for 12 pancakes Saturday morning, we went back out on the boat for some skiing while Blake lay on the dock in horrible pain from grotesque pancake intake. As I went to ski I decided though it has been a while I would get up on two and drop to one so I could slalom. I did, effectively and continued to stroll around the lake. As I took a turn heading back to the center of the lake I started to lose my balance. I rocked and swayed and tried to stay up. My feet started to move forward and in response I threw my head forward trying to regain balance. Bad idea. I felt what I would describe to this day (which is saying a lot) as the worst pain I have experienced in my life.
Long story short, I ripped my hamstring in half. Instead of tearing it at the origin or insertion (fancy kinesiology word. Degree at use.) I split it right down the middle and it rolled to either side of my leg. Pretty awesome.
I spent the rest of the afternoon on the dock with Blake. We were both in exceptional pain.
I sat there and thought about how I had just ruined my college athletic career. I was due to report for baseball as a freshman in 4 weeks and there was no chance this was going to be healed in less than 6.
When I got on campus I limped around and did as much as I was either allowed or capable of doing athletically.
In another twist of God’s hilarity (which would take way to long to explain here), I ended up playing for the soccer team. I know, I know, such a huge skip of events, but just trust me for your time’s sake it happened.
As I started to train with the soccer team it was VERY apparent I was not healthy. I couldn’t sprint (At all. Like, even for me.), couldn’t dive correctly, couldn’t really do anything the way it should have been.
Guys on the team kept telling me to go see the trainer, but I refused. Every time I went into the training room it was packed. And as far as I could tell it was packed with people who played lots of minutes. I literally said to guys, “Nah, I’m fine. I don’t even play. That’s for the guys who are getting minutes.” They tried to disagree and debate with me but I would have none of it. We didn’t have a trainer at my high school. As I understood it trainers (and subsequently their time) was only for the guys on the team that mattered; only for the ones who contributed.
All the while, my leg got no better. As a matter of fact scar tissue was building up from continuing to try and play. Thus making it worse.
What’s funny is that looking back I couldn’t have been more wrong. As a rostered member of the soccer team I had every right to use the training room and its capabilities. Not only was I allowed to, it was encouraged. I was supposed to get back to 100% as soon as I possibly could. It didn’t matter whether I was playing or not.
I feel like that is us sometimes when it comes to the church. We think that certain things are only for ‘super Christians.” That if we didn’t grow up in a Christian home, or go to a Christian school we aren’t as good. That if we aren’t a vocational missionary or a pastor we are somehow less valuable to the church.
I have struggled with this for years. As a matter of fact, I still do. I struggle with what vocation should look like and what being a believer in the workplace means.
And yet in the midst of this strife, this tension the Apostle Paul’s fights this with gusto. He compares us, in the church, to a body. He notes that no one piece is more important than another. That each part must do what they are gifted or called to at that particular time.
For me, it was to get healthy. For me, it was to get better at soccer so that one day I could be the one playing. For me, it was to encourage and spur on my teammates to good deeds already prepared for them.
God’s picture is most often different than the world’s and I find it is more than not different than my own. As I wrote about earlier, Paul encourages the Ephesians that ‘they already are…” There is no amount of wins the church of Ephesus can pick up to earn a spot on God’s team. They already have it.
We already have it.
And with it, kinda, sorta like the training room, we get everything that comes along with it. We are a part of the family. We are brothers to the Second Adam. He is the first fruits of a new creation that we are apart of.
And the additional good news, at least for me and my hamstring, is that this family comes with a great doctor. One who has come to heal the sick.
(1) Important side note: I do not in any way, shape, or form want to exclude the mention of Blake ‘two-time’ Nystrom and his incredible pancake showcase at the Copper Kettle. Eating 12 plate sized pancakes, Blake put his name on the map, literally; for the second time. I have never been so impressed with an eating display. Well done, Blake.