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Monday, December 11, 2017

Don't Leave Home Without Him

I never knew I had an anterior cruciate ligament. But I received my lesson in human anatomy as I rounded third and sprinted toward the plate. A few yards down the third base line my right knee popped. It felt like an unseen hand ripped my leg in two. I toppled to the dirt, in too much pain to move.   

The surgeon said we should wait a few days for the swelling to subside before repairing my injury. He sent me home with crutches.

The anterior cruciate ligament -- also known as the ACL -- is a band of tissue located behind the knee. Its chief purpose is to stabilize the leg by fastening the top and bottom together. If the ACL tears, the knee easily shifts out of position during normal activities like walking or running.

I didn’t like using crutches. I felt uncoordinated as I hobbled down the sidewalk. Maneuvering from the living room to the kitchen was more trouble than I wanted to endure. Climbing stairs was out of the question. Within two hours of returning home, I put the crutches aside.

“I don’t need these things,” I groused before going to bed. “I can get by just fine without ‘em.”

The next morning, I crawled out from under the covers and stood carefully at the bedside, testing my knee. It felt sore, but nothing I couldn’t handle.  I showered, dressed and wolfed down my breakfast. I ignored the crutches as I walked out the door.

When I stepped off the sidewalk, my knee buckled. If the car hadn’t broken my fall, I’d have fallen to the ground. A few minutes later, I hobbled back into the house to retrieve my crutches.

Over the last forty-five years, as I’ve shared my faith in Christ with others, I’ve heard the refrain so often, “Religion is a crutch,” I wonder if it isn’t subliminally scripted into our subconscious.  What people most often mean is, “Believing in Almighty God is no different than being weak and dependent on something.” 

Coming from the lips of men and women whose spiritual injuries sometimes defy description, I shake my head in bewilderment.  In the face of overwhelming troubles and heartache, of illnesses, and loneliness, or the death of loved ones, and on and on it goes, some people still stubbornly cling to their pride and walk out the door without support. Others, hobbled by crippling disabilities like drunkenness, drug addiction, uncontrollable sexual lusts, and any number of spiritual injuries, still crow, “I don’t need crutches. I can get by fine without ‘em.”

I’ve learned (and still need a reminder now and then) it’s good to have Someone to lean on. The game changes too quickly. One moment I’m sprinting toward home, the next, I’m writhing in the dirt, eating my pride.

I am not ashamed to admit it. I need a crutch. I need Christ’s strong hand of support and soft words of comfort. I need a rock upon which to stand and a Savior to hold me fast.

I learned the truth a long time ago: Don’t leave home without Him. Or, more to the point: Don’t live your life without Him.

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