The wet sand sparkled in the sunlight, and stretched far into the distance until it met the sky. The tide withdrew, creating space for me and my beloved companion to meander at will. We walked, sometimes in full conversation, other times in silence. It didn't matter; we were together. I enjoyed the company, I enjoyed the fresh sea breeze, I enjoyed the warm Autumnal sun, and I enjoyed the exercise! I had nowhere else to be, no one else to look after, and no set agenda. I hadn't spent 'us' time like this in such a long time. It was perfect.
We talked about all sorts. His creation. His love. His forgiveness and acceptance. I asked for direction and confirmation. I prayed for others and I had a little rant about how life seems so unfair at times; but it was no surprise to him, he already knew how I felt. He let me off-load, question and ramble. He let me be me.
Today, all my time is yours, Lord. Let's keep walking.
I felt free. I felt loved. I wanted to capture the feeling like multi-coloured sand in a bottle and screw the lid on tight.
As I continued, the sand beneath my feet started to soften, challenging the gentle pace I had been enjoying. Gradually the steps became strides and required a significant increase in effort. No big deal, or so I thought, but it wasn't long before my right hip began to feel a little uncomfortable. Ignoring the strain I pushed on, determined to make the most of this special time with God.
The pain increased and I was forced to find respite on a sandbank. Gutted. However, a short break and then we would continue ...
We did continue, but so did the pain. I eventually admitted defeat and turned around to begin the journey home.
After a short time I realised that in order to dampen the pain, I had started to limp. I discovered that if I kept my right knee slightly bent then my hip didn't hurt as much. It worked, until my knee began to hurt too. Again, I pushed through it, after all, what choice did I have? I had to get home somehow! So, with my right hip and knee complaining with every step I fixed my eyes on the destination and quickened the pace. I wouldn't let it ruin my day. But the truth was that my conversation with Jesus had been drowned out by an internal (and yes, the occasional external) 'ouch!'.
Through forced experimentation I learnt that leaning on the outside of my right ankle lessened the pain in my hip, and took the pressure off my knee. Relief. Until, yes, my ankle began to hurt too!
Enough of my moaning! Eventually I made it back to the car, drove back to the caravan and rested!
The pouring out of my heart and mind to Jesus might have decreased as the pain increased, but that didn't stop him speaking to me....
As I sat in the caravan I realised that ignoring the pain in my hip had led to problems elsewhere. It resulted in added tension and pressure in both my knee and my ankle, and as my hip still throbbed with the pain, it hadn't solved the problem at all. It would seem that one part of the body rarely suffers in isolation.
How true this is of the body of Christ!
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 we read how we are all part of the body of Christ, and if one part suffers, every part suffers with it. Therefore, we need to work together, look out for each other, and support any part of the body that might be struggling. I think this concept also extends to the different ministries and groups within the church. Ignoring issues rarely solves the problem, but adds to pressure and tension elsewhere. God wants to build the whole church up, not just a part of it! If we want to see this happen, we really need to recognise the importance of other people, and different ministries, and do all we can to ensure they are fit and healthy and functioning as they should be.
If one part of the body hurts, get it fixed - ignoring it will only lead to problems elsewhere!
May God continue to build his church!