Founder and first General of The Salvation Army William Booth once said, “The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”
There is an old saying that goes like this; “No Pain, no gain”…have you ever heard it?
A number of years ago, when I was still playing soccer and desired to play at the collegiate level and beyond, I began having trouble with one of my knees. No matter how much I stretched before and after our practices, I inevitably came away sore and concerned that my years of playing my favorite sport were over. It finally got so bad that I consulted a doctor who in turn referred me to a physical therapist who specialized in sports injuries and recovery. He took a look at my knee, frowned, and then said something that shocked me. He said; “I’m sorry I can’t help you…” There was suddenly a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, my dreams seemed dashed and I pulled myself up from the table completely and utterly defeated. But, my physical therapist wasn’t finished speaking. “I’m sorry I can’t help you…because you have to help yourself!” He finished saying this and looked at me with penetrating eyes.
What? What did that even mean? For a moment the darkness that had initially descended upon me with what I thought was bad news slowly dissipated. Was there still hope? My physical therapist went on to explain to me that he could show me how to heal my knee, but the work, the pain and effort would have to come from me. I would have to decide if I was going to follow through with it. There would not be a quick fix, no secret remedy; it was going to be a lot of sweat and tears. I considered myself an athlete and was familiar with that old saying “No Pain, no gain”, but I wasn’t prepared for the pain and hard work that lay ahead of me.
Every appointment with my physical therapist began with thirty minutes of full out effort on a stationary bike, followed by stretching that ached every muscle and some muscles I never knew I possessed. After which, he showed me a series of weights that I would need to lift with my leg while focusing my effort on my hurting knee. It hurt, I did grimace many times, stopping to catch my breath and dull the screaming pain. Every time I stopped, however, my therapist would encourage me, he would push me…sometimes I would hate it, but he kept reminding me he couldn’t help me if I didn’t do the work. I thought he was a slave driver, a real mean, uncaring person, but his promptings kept me going, kept me focused and finally I would complete my workout, very sore yet slowly mending my injured knee. After many appointments, frustrations, and tough encouragement I finally felt whole again. I had been mended.
Physical therapy is a lot like our Spiritual walk with God and that of Holiness. His Holy Spirit comes along side of us, identifies damaged areas of our lives and prompts us to do something about them. God has all of the power, encouragement, and strength for us, but He too looks us in the eyes and says, “I can’t help you… if you don’t help yourself.” It’s not an indictment, but a focused statement to get our attention to remind us that we have a real choice to make. God can change us, transform us, renew us and make us whole again, but we have to want it! We have to have the desire for Him, and that of the image of Christ reflected in our lives.
Holiness is extended to us all, as children of God, but we have to want to change, we have to want to surrender our afflictions and our marred selves completely to the task of Holiness. Yes, Holiness is God’s transforming work and power He gives to us, but our responsibility lies in our measure of surrender. Holiness without surrender is like physical therapy without the drive to get better. Romans 6:22 says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Becoming a slave to God brings us face to face with our inadequacies, our imperfections and God’s deep desire not to leave us there in our broken state, but to transform and make us whole. But we must decide if we will let Him begin this therapy of holiness in us. The pathway is painful, there will be difficulties and discomfort but to reap such a reward of Christ-likeness and complete surrender is priceless and this is what He desires from us all. Remember: “No pain, no gain!” Let’s do this together!