It was the oversized canvas beach bag with the red straps that finally forced me to admit it. My husband went ahead to set up our sun canopy and chairs, the boys dashed off, lugging our towels and balls and boogie boards, and I stashed a pro-level supply of sunscreen, snacks, and drinks inside that beach bag.
For the past three months, I’d been struggling with a very swollen knee, so I slowly made my way to the beach.
It was on that boardwalk, when I was wrestling with that blasted beach bag and clinging to the weathered railing, that I had my little come-to-Jesus moment. I silently pled, “Jesus, I’m done. Please, fix this knee.”
And I’m quite certain He answered, “Daughter, I’ll take care of the knee — but please, set down that ridiculous bag.”
You should know, this same knee already sidelined me eight years ago for over a year between injury, misdiagnosis, delayed surgery, and rehabilitation. This second chapter was not welcome. Body parts shouldn’t have chapters.
I sat under that canopy in my beach chair and made the call to schedule an undesired reunion with my knee doctor. After an MRI, I learned that it was a swollen bone and surgery wasn’t an option. The prescription was rest and quality time with a lovely bionic knee brace and a very fancy cane.
And then came the blow: “No walking for at least twelve weeks.”
Now, let’s face it: I already couldn’t walk. But I hadn’t come to terms with that yet. So, hearing this, with a timeframe that stretched far beyond the deadline I’d assigned this whole thing, pulled me into web of no’s: No walking our brand-new puppy, no walking to clear my head, no walking to catch up with friends or get the mail or enjoy our amusement park passes or circle the track at soccer practice or . . . My mind kept going, thinking of all the ways walking was not just part of my physical health, but also my mental health.
As the weeks wore on, it got harder. Additional, long-stuffed-down wounds that had been kept quiet in seasons of flourishing activity would stay silent no more. The times when I would normally put on my sneakers, grab my earbuds, and get moving to work through frustration, stress, or anxiety, I had to sit and be still. This connection between my soul pain and my knee pain was tangled and deep.
This forced physical rest created soul unrest.
I prayed, “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:2-3 ESV).
My knee ached. My soul ached too. My trusty cane and brace stood as physical reminders of how much I needed to lean on God. He knew my lament and grief. He was waiting to sit with me in it, and I literally couldn’t walk away.
Why was being still harder in a season of forced stillness?
On our beach trip, as I watched the waves, I landed on the answer: I can’t be still when I’m standing in the waves. Staying at the surface of my pain, in the waves of bitterness and anger, can never give me the footing to heal.
God was challenging me to embrace the rest that my knee demanded as an invitation to go deeper with Him. He wanted me to dip below the surface waves and step fully into the deeper soul pain.
Could this forced physical rest be transformed into soul rest?
As uncomfortable as going deeper could be, I knew that’s where rest waited. Remember those underwater games we used to play? We’d hold our breath and go under and everything got still. It’s the same with soul rest. Soul rest comes when I meet God in the depths, where He already is. When I go below the surface, pause my breath, and listen, the loud quiets. The rush slows. The crash cushions.
In the deep, what I can’t see on the surface comes into focus.
In the quiet, the deepest parts of God minister to my deepest wounds.
Perhaps, then, wounds surface not to hurt us but to heal us. When He invites us to offer Him our unseen, unspoken, unhealed places, it’s so that He can raise us up. With every wound we offer Him to heal, He retells the resurrection. Every time I reach for His hem in pain, every time I weep at His feet in despair, every time I lay down the jar in thirst, He meets my longing. Every healed wound is a miraculous reminder of how He’s already pulled us from the dark. Each new healing shouts of our raising.
As the weeks stretch on, my knee brace is still firmly in place. As my sneakers gather dust, daily I make the decision of whether to sink down below the surface of my woe-is-me emotions to settle again into His rest. I’m learning to hold out my wounds as an offering, trusting that each of these wounds surfaced because He has plans to heal every single one of them.
And friend, that is my prayer for us all: That in the deep, He raises us up again.
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.
(Psalm 42:7 ESV)
Ruth Mills says
Amen! Thank you!
Gail, I’m thankful this resonated with you. He is so faithful, even in our pain, isn’t He?
Ruth, I’m so thankful this met you today!
So beautifully said….I’ve experienced the same to be true at a time when God used a physical injury to uncover the spiritual wounds buried deep within my withering heart. He enters in to the depths of our pain and suffering and opens our eyes to the vastness of His love and power. Thank you for sharing .
LaDonna, my kindred friend! I’m sorry for your pain, too. I’ve said so many times that with God, it’s never really about what we think it’s about. It sounds like you’ve felt this, too, and I’m so encouraged to know that you, too, met Him in the depths. Much love to you — thank you for sharing your story.
Becky Beresford says
Marnie, my sweet friend…
What a powerful piece, written so beautifully. I love your heart and willingness to go to the deep places with Jesus, even when it’s uninvited and painful. You inspire us to do the same and to remember He is in the business of healing and bringing the resurrection to life in His children each day. Such a good story!!
Love to you,
Becky, thank you. You know this journey, and your words mean much! I’m just so thankful for how Jesus meets us, every time, even when it’s for the same thing repeatedly. He truly raises us up. Much love to you!
Thank you. I have experienced this through the pandemic and the forced isolation, just never knew what it was nor how to put it into words. You have done that with this post. Thank you again. Amen.
Paula, I completely understand what it feels like to read words that convey what you’ve been trying to process. I’m so thankful for that clarity He gave you, and trust that He will continue to speak to your heart where you are. I will pray for that for you, Paula.
BETHANY SCHEFFER says
I am in that moment now – thank you for your post. <3
Bethany, I’m still sitting in it now, too, and it is truly a daily decision to meet Him in the deep. I will be praying for you!
Oh Marnie! This is beautiful! I am a walker, too. Walking gets me out into nature and gives me time to think and to reconnect with God. I have had periods of less walking, due to hip pain, then hip replacements. But nothing as long as you describe. Well done! Making the healing time into a learning path is so brave. You are choosing the high road. Hoping the path leads to renewed strength and healing. And an end to the pain.
Irene, yes! Walking is such a powerful way to connect with God. I’m so very thankful that He meets us in other places and ways, too, but I’m very much looking forward to walking with Him again! Thank you for sharing your story — I’m so grateful that you’ve recovered and I will echo that prayer for continued renewed strength and healing for you!
Beautiful words in the midst of pain.
Terri, I’m so blessed to know this touched your heart today.
He does give us time to rest and get closer to him.
Gail, sometimes it’s so hard to see that, in the waiting, He is giving us rest, isn’t it? But you’re so right, He is so faithful to pursue us and give us invitations to seek Him.
Darlean Tipke Kane says
Thank you for this.Peace
I’m grateful that this found you today. Blessings to you!
So very good and wise word. Go deeper. That is where the healing lies. Thank you for this reminder.
Brooke, I need the reminder, too. Going deeper can feel scary, can’t it? So thankful that He meets us when we’re ready to meet Him.
Thank you for your devotional! I somewhat feel your pain and journey with my hand. I had a deadly form of Melanoma on my right ring finger. I am right handed too and have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome type 1. It’s a long journey of occupational therapy to restore functionality. Very humbling to learn to Be still and know that I am God. God has used this time to work in my life as well. I also have a classmate that has recently lost both of her hands and now her feet this year. Hang tight and stay the course, run the race set before you..in the end you will win!
Rachel Pool says
Oh how I can identify with these words. Healing tears flowing ❤
Beth Williams says
Women are doers. We think we must accomplish a laundry list of items from work to home making to child raising. Many don’t take time for soul rest. They think that resting is being lazy. God asks for us to put spiritual whitespace or margin in our lives. He wants us to take time daily to sit with Him. Spend time reading Bible, doing devotions, or simply praying. When we don’t do that & try to keep up or frantic pace our souls have unrest. That’s when we give the devil a foot hold. Uninvited wounds come creeping back. God finds ways to sideline us & get our attention. It could be a hurt knee, or some other injury. It will require rest. Good solid rest & that affords you time with God. In that rest He will heal every wound. With that we are reminded of how He has pulled us through trials before.