As best I can remember, I have broken five bones in my life – three in fingers (thumb, ring, pinky), one in my right hand, and one in my right wrist. All of them have been football related, although of them happened when I was a coach. Yes, I’m such a klutz that I get hurt coaching football.
The Object: A Splint or CastThe worst part of my fractures was not the pain, but the inconveniences that result. Twice I had to get casts that eliminated me from competition for a few weeks. Twice I was able to continue playing (and I toughed it out and still was able to coach with my broken finger).
The casts and splints that I’ve gotten have made other tasks difficult – like showering and taking notes (especially when I broke a bone in my right hand, during the semester that I took Biochemistry and Genetics). And for my most recent injury, the splint made it very difficult to type blog posts.
But the splints and casts serve a purpose. Don’t think so? Then ask my left pinky, which never got fixed correctly and now won’t ever straighten out, outside of surgery. (“No, thanks,” says Mr. Crooked Pinky.)
But here’s the point about splints: they do not heal the injury. Nothing about a splint or cast causes your bone to repair itself. God has designed the body to be able to heal from a bone fracture, with white blood cells and osteoclasts and osteoblasts and all sorts of other things that I wouldn’t have known except that I taught high school biology for one semester.
But the splint does not initiate the healing. All it does is provide a stable framework to hold the bone in the correct place, to allow the healing to take place.
The Lesson: Spiritual DisciplinesMany Christians make the mistake of thinking that church, Bible study, prayer, etc, will make their life better. The more good and “godly” things they have, the better they will be and the closer they’ll be to God. But it’s not true.
Spiritual disciplines (like prayer, service, Bible study, etc) do not bring healing to a broken soul any more than a splint brings healing to a broken bone. All that spiritual disciplines do is provide a structure or framework for the healing to take place.
What, then, brings about our spiritual healing? Faith in the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit are what restore my soul to a right relationship with God.
Spiritual disciplines are good, but we must never think that they are the ultimate goal, or even that they can accomplish the goal by themselves. We need to trust in the work of Jesus and the power of the Spirit, while understanding that the disciplines are God’s instruments of grace to help His work take place in our souls.
Just as the broken bone finds healing difficult without a splint or cast, the broken soul finds it difficult to be made right without spiritual disciplines.