Eight days after my initial elbow surgery, my cast-like wrap and sling were discarded and I was helped into what would soon become my new best friend, a hinged brace – black metal bars that were cushioned around my arm with velcro-strapped pads. Big dials on the outside of the joint determined the extent to which the brace could open or close.
It was intimidating, to say the least. Fresh out of the packaging, the device first had to be pried open, and then the stiff cushions and straps adjusted and cut to the appropriate size. I looked in doubt at the nurse who was struggling to assist me when she assured me that soon all the padding would adjust to the shape of my arm and I'd be able to slip in and out of the thing with ease. Doing so remained a two-man job for quite a while, however, my husband gamely entering the fray. Eventually came the day when I was able to conquer the beast by myself. That's when the fun began.
I was allowed to take it off for showers and physical therapy, and at first the freedom from the cumbersome hardware was a huge relief. But warnings from my doctor not to do too much too soon, and the stabbing pain that came from certain unexpected movements made me hurry those moments along. I found I longed for the safety and security I felt when I slipped my arm back inside those protecting metal bars. Eventually the dials were adjusted to allow me more freedom of movement, and I found I became quite comfortable wearing the device around the clock.
I liken my experience with that brace to my relationship with the Word of God. At first, the Bible intimidated me with its numerous books and numbers, language that was often foreign to me and stories that were stranger still to understand and believe. I needed help navigating my way through it, and interestingly enough, again it was my husband who was the biggest help in that regard. Patiently he explained and advised and led me through my studies until I became sufficiently familiar with the book to find my way around it on my own. The more time I spent in it, the more familiar it became. I enjoyed the structure and security it gave to my life, allowing me the freedom to make my own choices while keeping me headed in the right direction as I went along.
Finally the day came when my doctor said my elbow was sufficiently healed and I could set the brace aside. I continued my physical therapy and exercises at home, but after a time it became apparent that my arm was not opening up to the desired degree, and further surgery became necessary. Once again the brace became a part of my life. Now in the second stage of my recuperation period, I wear it open to allow arm movement during the day, and locked straight at night to keep my muscles from pulling back into the bent and locked position.
I've found that when things are going good in my life it is easy to think I can set the Word of God aside for a time; that its use is mainly for times of trouble. But I've learned that I need its protection and guidance by day and by night, in sunshine and rain, pleasure and pain. In even the best of times I've found that my mind can stray away from godly precepts, and setting the Bible aside for too long allows doubt and worry to worm their way into my life and heart. There are times when I have to lockdown my thinking along straight paths and promises I've found in the Word that I know lead to healing, life, success and joy.
One of those promises is that I will eventually be able to set my brace aside for good. Thankfully I will always have the Word of God to strengthen and support me, making my spiritual muscles firm and keeping my bones strong.
“So then, brace up and reinvigorate and set right your slackened and weakened and drooping hands and strengthen your feeble and palsied and tottering knees, And cut through and make firm and plain and smooth, straight paths for your feet [yes, make them safe and upright and happy paths that go in the right direction], so that the lame and halting [limbs] may not be put out of joint, but rather be cured.”
(Hebrews 12:12-13 AMP, emphasis mine.)