Editor’s note: In this post, Eric Landry, drawing upon the story of Jacob, shares his pastoral wisdom about discipleship and the Christian life. In the story of Jacob, God gives Jacob a wound leaving him with a limp. This weakness in Jacob was a sign of God’s power and Jacobs ongoing need to depend upon the Lord. As Jacob lived by faith in the promise of God, he had an ongoing reminder that God’s power was manifest in his weakness.
As a pastor, I often find myself in my office, in a living room, or across a café table trying to help people make sense of the mess they have made of their lives. They want so desperately to be free from the pain their sin has caused; they want so quickly to turn a page and get on with life. They want to know that they are forgiven and that everything will be okay.
With profound gratitude to God for giving me the rights and responsibilities of my office, I gladly tell them that God in Christ has, in fact, forgiven them of their sin. But the joy and relief that absolution brings quickly fades as I tell them that God may not rescue them from the effects of their sin.
Whether it is a relationship broken by infidelity or a body broken by addiction, these forgiven sinners may still walk with a limp for the rest of their lives. Part of pastoral counseling, of course, is to walk with them until the limp becomes more manageable, until they know how to more easily navigate life.
Are you limping through your pilgrimage? It isn’t a sign that you have failed to measure up, failed to achieve, failed to see victory. It is a sign of God’s victory; it is the way of the cross. It is the foolish, shameful path of victory, a sign of the blessing you have received from God. And it tells others that you have suffered the effects of sin, that you know the power of temptation, that you have felt the pain of loss, but that you have also seen the break of day.
Walking with a limp is a testimony to God’s faithfulness to us; and it is far more effective than the testimony of the powerful, because it points others who feel the sharp pain of sin and misery to the God who has given them the ability to feel that pain and who promises to rescue them from the power of sin.
An unbeliever will never know the frustration over sin that Paul feels in Romans 7. Only those who have been set free from the bondage of sin can feel the pain of sin into which they so easily stumble or which they freely choose. And only those who know the redeeming power of God’s grace can walk gracefully with their limp—telling others that God is indeed faithful to rescue them, if not from the effects of their sin, then from his wrath against sin, so that they can be witnesses to others who like them cry out for relief, for deliverance, and for blessing.
Adapted from Eric Landry, “Living with a Limp,” Modern Reformation, March/April 2017. Used by permission.