More About Stability

As I recover from the stroke I had a year ago, I find myself somewhere between walking with a cane and walking without a cane. My issue is balance, as I mentioned back in January. Some might recall that I described the sensation I experienced as sort of, but not quite, like walking on ice. Not quite, because I had the same sense that I could fall when I wasn’t moving. I might simply be standing, but if I turned my head, I could lose my balance.

I say this so that I can make this analogy a bit clearer.

I started thinking about my use of the cane and drawing a comparison with my finding stability in Christ. But that didn’t seem right. After all, Christ is not something I add to my life to just help me do life better. And as I recover, I’m working hard to do without the cane, whereas, I want the opposite to be true about Christ: I very much want to lean on Him more and more.

So is there no value in the analogy? Are atheists right that Christ is a crutch for us Christians because we are too weak to stand on our own? Or, in my case, too unstable?

I’ve never bought the idea that Christians are weak or more needy or less capable. I mean some of the bravest people, before they became Christians, have turned to Christ. I think, for example, of Louis Zamperini, the Olympic runner whose career was cut short by World War II.

The movie Unbroken depicted his courage and strength of character.

While serving in the Air Force Louie’s plane was shot down. He and two others survived, only to be adrift on the Pacific Ocean for forty-seven days (one man died a month into the ordeal). Unfortunately the two US servicemen were “rescued” by the Japanese and consigned to a prisoner of war camp. The treatment there was cruel.

But there’s more to the story which will be depicted in a second movie coming out this year about Louis’s experiences after the war. His will to survive in the worst of conditions, wasn’t enough, and by God’s grace, he found Christ, and that relationship revolutionized his life.

That’s the truth, then, about Jesus: He doesn’t prop us up, like a crutch would, and He doesn’t act as a mere steadying force in case I lose my balance.

He actually is balance itself. Without Him, life is uncertain, wobbly, shaky. We do look to means outside ourselves to bring life into proper alignment, but nothing works like having a proper sense of balance.

When people have vertigo, they do all kinds of things to cope. Some medicate, some have surgery, some undergo all manner of tests, some endure treatments on their ears or their eyes. And of course, there are people like me who walk with a cane or a walker. Others might even be confined to a wheelchair. Because there’s something wrong. Life isn’t the same when we feel we could topple simply because we walk across the room. We know we have to correct this condition or find a way to cope.

Christ is to our spiritual lives what balance is to our physical lives. Actually, we can live without Him, but to do so we have to adopt all kinds of coping mechanisms. We have to try to restore a sense of balance that only He can provide. We might live our lives for our spouse or children. We might become so work driven that our job defines us. We might take the opposite tack and become party animals or so engrossed in entertainment of one kind or the other that we hardly ever slow down. In fact, slowing down terrifies us. It’s like walking without the cane.

The sad thing is, most people have no idea what’s wrong. They even deny that there is anything wrong. After all, their world has been spinning for as long as they can remember. They don’t know what life without vertigo feels like. They scoff at people who try to tell them what walking without fear of falling is like, people who go cane free.

They’re living in a fantasy, they say. And who needs to listen to their ideas about balance. We’re coping just fine, thank you very much.

The problem, of course, is that the longer we live, the more prone we are to fall.

Most people don’t understand that they have decreased balance until it is too late and they fall. Falls are the number one cause of death from injury in the US (“Balance Disorders,” Magnolia Physical Therapy)

The opposite is true when we have Christ. He is our balance. With Him we cannot, nor will we, fall, spiritually speaking. Not that we’re perfect. But Christ has dealt with our sin which puts our life off kilter.

In truth, He makes all the difference in the world.

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “That’s the truth, then, about Jesus: He doesn’t prop us up, like a crutch”

    Is it not also possible Becky, that Louis Zamperini also had other reasons to motivate his survival like a family? It is a well-known fact that a mother will aggressively protect her child and protect herself for the sake of the child and of course when alone have a powerful desire to see the child again. People have found strength through personal ideals such as love of a family and believing in a god to provide strength is a similar expression.

    “So is there no value in the analogy? Are atheists right that Christ is a crutch for us Christians because we are too weak to stand on our own?”

    It is logical that an emotive state of mind will increase the motivation for survival through the hard times of life whether it is a life-threatening situation or not and can only be classed as phycological support or a crutch.

    It is simply a fact when some people find life hard to cope with they will often turn to religion and a god, my own father being one of them, who by the way also had balance problems.

    I believe this literally can be a life saver for many people who may have been suicidal.

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    • Sort of funny here, Steve. You missed the point of the Zamperini example. He was not a Christian, nor did he turn to God when he was stranded on the ocean or taken captive by the Japanese, when he was tortured beyond belief and held his ground against his tormentor. He was strong, physically and mentally. But when he got home, this strong man couldn’t cope with the aftermath of what he’d been through, so he turned to drink. That was his crutch. And it didn’t save him. His life actually got worse. Until he became a Christian. Christ became his balance, so he didn’t need other things to prop him up. And that’s the truth for all Christians. Christ becomes our balance, though we don’t always let Him do His work in our life. So looking at Christians doesn’t always get to the truth about God. In Mr. Zamperiini’s life, at least in this point, he showed by what he did next, that Christ was real.

      Becky

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      • Yes agreed Becky, I had it basically wrong but I suppose it does however support my point that it is not only God who makes changes to lives, loving of life and the people in your life are the foremost motivators we all use to get through the tough times.

        Obviously, Mr. Zamperiini had suffered deep phycological scars and religion worked to help him cope with life, essentially a crutch to obtain a certain level of quality in life.

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        • No, Steve, his drinking was the crutch. Jesus Christ was the balance that changed him. He didn’t just change in order to have a better family life. He went back to Japan and forgave the people who had been his enemies. You get a sense of it in the first movie Unbroken, but I think it will be clearer in the one coming up. Here’s the trailer.

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          • Well drinking is basically the same thing. If he went to drinking it was a short-term crutch that allowed him to take his mind from the events he had suffered. Obviously, he realised he needed much more than what drink offered and found it in religion and if you like a much more psychologically balanced crutch.

            Words form a large part of credibility for the issue discussed. I know people including my deceased father who found life extremely tough and psychological help was what they desperately needed, however turned to religion.

            One of my friends’ daughters turned to religion when things became really tough, and it could only be termed as mental help, support, comfort, aid, assistance or a crutch. I do not know how you could possibly find the expressional term crutch as indifferent, maybe because it is a term commonly used by atheists?

            I would expect religion to be used as a crutch that may create some balance between various aspects of their lives. The dictionary says a crutch is used as a support under the armpit by a lame person, in this case religion is support for psychological problems and a crutch for mentally lame persons.

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          • A couple things, Steve. His drinking made his life worse, not better. He was about to lose the things he cared about most. So his drinking crutch was not working.

            Second thing. I am not talking about “religion.” I’m talking about Jesus Christ, a real person who provided for us what we can not provided for ourselves. The forgiveness and peace of mind that Mr. Zamperini needed, only came when he met Jesus, put his trust in Him, and stopped leaning on his own understanding, his own way of doing things. Then his life changed.

            Regarding crutch, as IB said in her comment, which you may or may not have missed, there is an element of the metaphor that works. Jesus Christ is the strength we do not have in ourselves, and there’s no shame in leaning on Him. But in this article, I’m extending the metaphor and saying that in reality Jesus is balance itself. He doesn’t provide temporary stability that can be lost, but He gives us the internal sense of balance that does away with any feeling of shakiness or vertigo or weakness. He makes it possible for us to stand, whole and unshaken and unshakeable. But again, not religion. Jesus.

            Becky

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  2. Amen, Becky! Well said. I suggest you keep the cane. Get one that’s purple with some jewels on it. Make it a fashion statement, a bit of glamor, self defense even. I kid you not, I used to borrow a lady’s cane to walk her dog. It came in really handy to chase away aggressive deer and other dogs.

    I think you’re right, Jesus actually is the balance itself. That said however, I have no problem with some of those yahoos calling Jesus my crutch. You betcha! If any of them had tried to walk in my shoes they’d be road pizza by now. I’m exceedingly grateful to the Lord as crutch.

    Also, I always want to ask, who tries to take away a lame woman’s crutch? What else do they do, steal candy from babies? Sheesh, and then they have the nerve to wonder why we as people might need a Savior. 🙂

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    • Good point, IB. Sometimes our balance can only be restored by Christ coming along side us and letting us lean on Him in a way that lets everyone see He’s the only way we are able to walk. Sometimes He gives us a healed sense of balance that others can’t see, so it’s up to us to let them know we walk only because of Him.

      And yes. LOL, kicking the cane out of the hands of someone leaning on it is pretty despicable. The very desire to do so makes it pretty evident why Jesus came!

      Becky

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    • Oh, yeah, IB. I am definitely keeping the cane (it’s a pretty blue, sparkly one). Right now I carry it most of the way on my walk. I use it only when I start wobbling more than walking. 😉

      Becky

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  3. Great post Rebecca! I tried drinking to cope and know for a fact that it does not work. Accepting Jesus not only has helped me abolish drinking, but has benefited my life in every avenue thereof. Peace be yours in abundance.

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    • Thanks for sharing your story, Nathan. You are just one more evidence that Jesus is exactly who we all need. It’s encouraging to hear about how He has brought different people to Himself. Blessings,

      Becky

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