When I was ten years old I was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis, a curvature of the spine with no known cause. No reason. No rhyme. It just is. In my case, and for most, it is genetic in nature, the methods of dealing with it, either surgery or a brace. And because spinal fusion is rather drastic, the first choice of treatment to keep the curve in check is usually the brace.
Not far removed from medieval times, the Milwaukee Brace that I wore in the 1960s and ‘70s looked horrendous. Attached to a leather girdle that was buckled around your hips and also to a neck piece that like handcuffs snapped in place around your neck, were three adjustable metal bars, the two in the back that with each modification made, created that beautiful hunchback look, one that all teenage girls were dying to wear.
Not long after becoming a Christian at the age of 15, and after learning that Jesus brought/brings to us healing, one afternoon, kneeling beside my bed, I prayed asking Him to straighten my spine. Grabbing my handheld mirror to inspect His work, and hoping that He had said yes to my request, I found my back looked much the same as before.
Strange as it seems, I was not at all disquieted that I didn’t get what I asked for and every now and again would put my wish before Him much like a shy child asking for that thing that was a coveted want, but not really a need. But over time and with each repeated petition, what began to dawn on me was that nestled in His quiet response was a hidden blessing. For in looking back as an older adult, I began to see that like a skunk with a white stripe down its back, I had a similar wild streak and left unrestrained, physically—from my brace—and emotionally, would have wandered down even crazier paths than my free, hippie-spirit within, had already led me.
God sometimes says, “Yes.” And other times, “No.” And sometimes, in the valley between those two words, He calls us to wait seeming to withhold that one thing, that if it were ours, would make our lives complete. That without it, we feel we might just die. That answer we want God to give us. And not only that, but how we want it given, when we want it, and even where we want to receive it. That perfect promotion. That perfect husband or wife. That beautiful, straight back….
But God’s timing is perfect. And when He makes us wait, we can be assured it is for our good.
I’ve told my testimony before, but to summarize—I came to know the Lord as a teenager and was given a great gift of faith. But by the time I was nineteen or so, I had begun a slow steady drift away from Him. And by the time I was twenty-two, I was unrecognizable as a Christian. Making bad choices daily and steeped deep in sin, when the Lord turned me back to Him, I had to learn, as if I had never known before, how to walk as a Christian, how to rest in the Lord and how to let Him, not me, create a clean heart within.
~ I had to relearn I didn’t need to hide my sin from God but to confess it.
~ I needed to relearn only He can save me; that it is not my job, but His.
~ I needed to relearn His perfect love casts out all fear.
And all of the above had to be in His time and His way. If it were left to me, I would have wanted a conversion experience where the peace I had known when I first came to Him was restored instantaneously and everything in my heart was made right. If He had granted that, I know, without a doubt, I would have ended up back in my self righteous, do-it-yourself faith, living so far away from God, that when I entered heaven, flames would have been licking at my feet.
~ But God in His grace knows what is best for us.
~ He is the author and finisher of our faith.
~ He gave His only Son to take on our sin and in exchange give us His righteousness, so that one day, we may look on His face.
I don’t know if He will straighten my spine here on this earth, but I know in heaven He will.
In His love,