Friday, August 4, 2000

A Break for the Better

My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.
(Hebrews 12:5-6)

I remember the summer of 1993 like it was yesterday. I spent almost every day at the newly constructed gym at my college campus. I would lift weights religiously for over an hour then head over to the basketball courts to play a few pick-up games. I was a physical and cardio-vascular machine; unfortunately I knew it all too well. I took great pride in being strong in the weight room and excelling on the basketball court. I couldn't walk by a mirror without admiring the handiwork of all the long hours at the gym; a camera was ever present to capture my body's progression month by month.

But everything changed on August 4, 1993. The afternoon started the same way every other one did that summer; I went to work then headed over to the gym afterwards. I lifted weights for an hour, then got involved in yet another pick-up game on the basketball court. However, that's where the similarities end. Against my better judgment, I skipped putting on my high-top sneakers; I soon wished I hadn't been so lazy. After going up for a rebound, I came down on another guy's foot and shattered my ankle. It was the worst physical pain I ever experienced, and I knew I was in trouble. When I got to the hospital, my worst fears were realized when the doctor put on a cast that extended all the way up my left leg.

I was devastated. My daily trips to the gym had been replaced with regular trips to the doctor. My body went from its all-time strongest to its all-time weakest in a matter of 2 months, while my waistline (a life-long achilles heel) went from best (34") to worst (39") just as quickly.

It didn't take long for me to realize that I was the unwilling recipient of discipline from the Lord. Within 60 days, He completely stripped me of everything I viewed so proudly. At the time, I couldn't have been angrier with Him. "How could he do this to me? Why me of all people?"

Seven years later, I see things a whole lot differently. I'm so thankful for that period of humbling. It was during those months that I came to appreciate the struggles of the handicapped in a way that I never would have otherwise. I came to realize that it wasn't so bad if I wasn't the strongest in the gym or the best athlete on the court. Hopefully, I never become so full of myself again that I require such a stern form of discipline from the Lord, but to be safe, I'm getting rid of my basketball and camera. :)