by Joanie Butman
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I strategically scheduled minor surgery to repair a trigger finger. For insurance purposes it had to be done by the end of the year, so I took advantage of the opportunity to skip KP duty for the holiday. Plus, my right hand needs to be functioning properly before the Christmas onslaught of relatives when I'll be on KP duty for three days. Physical therapy began the morning following the procedure. I was given an exercise program to rehab my hand – on my own. Here’s the issue: I don’t do well on an honor system rehab regiment. Intellectually, I know the harder I work, the faster my finger will heal. Still, I get lazy, I procrastinate, I forget, I rush through the exercises and doing them three times a day never happened. Some people may be good at going it alone. I am not one of them.
Neither are a lot of others or else support groups wouldn’t exist, and who would need to join a class to exercise? Support and accountability keep you on track. Why do you think Weight Watchers has weigh-ins? Sometimes I feel like Sunday service is equivalent to a divine weigh-in, where I am challenged to reflect on my week or my life, and consider what the scale reveals about my spiritual health. As with everything in God’s upside down kingdom, on His scale you want to be on the heavy side.
Jesus created the first ministerial support group when He chose the 12 apostles. He knew they wouldn’t succeed without each other’s support and encouragement. Christ knows our weaknesses, which is why He always sent His disciples out in pairs, and why He sent the Holy Spirit as our counselor and helper. Christianity isn’t meant to be a solo endeavor.
Is my finger getting better? Slowly. I’d be a lot more diligent under the watch of a physical therapist with the added incentive the high cost of sessions bring. The quicker I heal, the less it will cost me. More importantly, is my spiritual dexterity getting better? Even more slowly. In this regard I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t flourish better under the watchful eye of the Great Physician. Your relationship with Him is an area where you can’t afford to get lazy, procrastinate, ignore or rush. It takes time and effort, but the fee’s been paid in full. However, you still have to choose to accept His gift, eager to go through the sometimes painful steps towards spiritual maturity. When you do, the reward is you’ll be better prepared when trouble hits, and it will, whether we’re functioning properly or not.
Christian fellowship is an integral part of this process. Statistics show that people achieve their goals faster with a partner(s), whether it be an exercise buddy, spiritual mentor or small group. We aren’t meant to go it alone – because most of us aren’t good at it. There’s good reason Paul reminds us throughout his writings to, “...encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thes 5:11)
Choose to be an encourager.