Warning: corny Christian analogy ahead. Earlier this month, I did something I hadn't been able to do in two months, which was to run outside. Between snow on the ground or good football/basketball games to watch the next morning, it was all treadmill, all the time. It was fun for awhile, and is easier on the joints, but, having run out of sports to look at, I was plumbing the depths of my limited DVD collection and finding Season 1 of CSI Miami to be acceptable but not gripping.
So it was with great anticipation that the snow finally melted away and I could resume my favorite outdoor running routes. My first run was on a surprisingly frigid but bearable morning. As I ran and sipped water from an old water bottle, water splashed onto my porous old gloves. I didn't realize how cold it really was because I was working up a good sweat, not having pounded the pavement or done really steep hills in awhile.
But then my fingers started feeling tingly. Instinctively, I switched the water bottle between hands to avoid having to hold this cold object with any one hand for too long, then pulled my gloves down and balled up my fingers, and finally alternating sticking hands in my armpit. Mercifully, I ended my run, rubbed my hands together, and headed inside, where I doused them with warm water and massaged them back to non-tingly status. Grabbing my gloves with my bare hands, I realized the fingers of the gloves had frozen over. Again, didn't realize it was that cold out.
It occurred to me that, no matter how zoned out I was as I was running, my body knew how to react to this unanticipated stress. Pain radiated to my extremities, and I responded by pressing those extremities against other parts of my body to warm them up.
I wondered if there wasn't a lesson or two here for the Christian community. Sometimes it is those who are on the front lines who get all the glory, but we forget that there is a whole support system in place, of nerves and vessels, to make sure that our extremities can do their part. And, when those extremities are stressed beyond their ability to cope, it makes sense for them to retract for a bit, pressed up against others, to get warmed up.
Some of us all of the time, and all of us some of the time, are the metaphorical hands and feet of Jesus, out there touching and walking. We do well to remember that we are connected to a larger body, not off on our own. And we do well to remember when we are not playing the role of the extremities, to do our part to support and warn and enable them. And, finally, we do well to have moments of being pressed up against each other, neither forsaking those precious times together nor thinking that they are the end all and be all of being alive.
The human body is an amazing creation, the way different parts are so different and yet inextricably linked. It is my hope that the body that represents the people of God here on earth can be similarly different and yet intertwined.