Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Safe Lifting Instructions

If you ever had your "back go out" from moving in a wrong direction or picking something up incorredtly, you know how much (after the fact) you wish you could rewind and do it right.

Physical therapists make their living teaching people how to strengthen muscles. They deal specifically with how to lift things safely. They usually come in after the damage is done. They are part of the process of "rewinding and doing it right."

My husband is doing some physical therapy right now for an injured shoulder and following surgery on his leg. The therapist comes to our house and puts him through his paces. She gives him excercises to strength the damaged muscles.

One of these exercises is particularly fascinating to me. The patient elevates his leg on a chair or the bed with the foot free hanging over the edge in a relaxed position. Then using the ankle to rotate the foot, the exercise is to pretend the foot is a pencil and to "draw" through the alphabet from A to Z.

Well, techniques for protecting our ligaments and muscles are a good thing, and we should all practice safe lifting. You know the drill: lift with your legs and not with your shoulders or back.

The Bible also has some very practical "safe lifting instructions" for "weight-bearing." Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt. 11:28 - 30) Sounds upside down, doesn't it? If you and I are already crushed by burdens, then how in the world does taking another burden (aka "take My yoke upon you") do anything but add more weight to an already overwhelming load?

In the ancient middle east (and possibly even today) the way a young ox was trained to carry a load was to yoke that ox with an older, experienced ox. Then the two together would carry the load - that's the "... learn from Me" part. Jesus' words are words of promise and comfort -

  • He is the gentle teacher with the humble, loving heart.
  • There is rest even when life brings crusing loads.
  • When the burden comes from the Savior and is carried in concert with Him, then "easy" and "light" seem possible.
Eugene Peterson describes living with loads and lifting loads with the Savior as "the unforced rhythm of grace." (The Message, Matt. 11:29) It's the path to a restored heart!

Psalm 68:19 gives another wonderful promise: "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens."

Life has loads to carry. It's a given! God's safe lifting instructions are always to let Him help us carry the load. And the implied promise in Psalm 68:19 is that when we falter and are too weary to keep putting one foot in front of the other under the weight of the load that our great Savior God will daily carry our burden for us!

There's a wonderful old hymn that sums it all up:

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?

Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,

His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?

Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?

Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks—
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?

Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

Frank E. Graeff, 1901

No comments: