A YEAR OF FEET
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid,
for You are close beside me. Psalm 23:4 NLT
It has been exactly a year since I walked into that downtown clinic searching for answers. I had exhausted my doctors – yes, they were exasperated with me. In fact, the one whose office I left just minutes before I showed up in the clinic was fed up with me. He saw nothing wrong with the feet and was sure that I was not damaging them by continuing to use them. I challenged him because I felt grinding, was in lots of pain, and had inflammation in each ankle/foot area. Because he was dismissing me, I asked if I could have his blessing by going to a specific manual therapist in town. My orthopedic surgeon gave me his blessing. I took it.
Through tears (mine) yesterday, Coach and I were recounting that day. Yes, he remembered well this distraught woman who was in excruciating pain but had gotten nowhere for over 8 months. Coach has been smiling a lot lately because my feet are finally in recovery. And he was smiling yesterday remembering our first visit – oh, I had been to him before, and God used Coach to bring healing to my side issue (The Healing Story), but I had not seen him for few years. But on September 30, 2020 I got answers. Coach knew what was wrong; he had seen this before. He treats many athletes, has been around for a while; nothing really shocks him. Within minutes he had me on the table and had put right my right cuboid back in place.
Cu-what? Did know you have 2 of them? I have written about this before, but it is good to remember. After Coach put the badly dislocated cuboid back in place, he grabbed a skeleton of a foot and showed me my problem. No wonder I felt grinding when I walked. No wonder there was so much inflammation. Not only were both cuboids dislocated, but they were actually impinging other bones/ligaments/tendons. Ahhh. The source of all this pain and suffering was discovered. After he fixed the left (and there is such a thing as a cuboid whip to put these things back in place – you could try it at home, but I, for one, and not recommending it), he asked me to test out my feet.
And broke down and cried.
I was heaving and crying. I couldn’t help it. I had gone all those months without any explanation or help. I was in a valley and I did not see any way out. Seeing my distress, Coach reached out and hugged me. Mind you, this was during our first year of the pandemic and no one reached out and touched anyone. He had a sobbing woman on his hands. His compassion spoke volumes.
In my mind (and his) I thought I was out of the valley. Green pastures were in my horizon. Mountain tops were beckoning. I was out of the trial. Turns out, it was just the beginning of the valley, and what Coach later called a desert. And what God pointed out to me this past summer. I have not only been in a valley, but my valley has a desert.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word. Psalm 119:67 NIV
Yes, I was afflicted. And yes, in a way I would stray. For one thing – I was running from God in my writing. And another, I was always looking up and beyond rather than living in the moment with God, allowing Him to teach me, convict me, and grow me. Having had this year, I have learned silent obedience. And honestly, that just came about 5 months ago. Must be a slow learner.
Did you know that in a valley there is growth? Lush growth. Not only the valley floor, but the trees in the valley stretch upwards. The river as it gushes by carrying life-giving water, or the meandering stream which provides refreshment, but a sound that calms. The mountain tops are not known for their lush foliage - it is trees. And even beyond the tree line, it is rock. There IS growth, but it is harder to see and calculate. In the valley, it is obvious. ALL can see, hear, know.
The word valley has an interesting meaning - it is gay’ in Hebrew and its meaning is a narrow gorge. Picture an area with tall steep sides and a path in the middle. This is the valley David writes about. We picture a meadow, lots of green space with wildflowers. A place to picnic. Take a nap. Enjoy. But David points out we need not fear when in the gorge, because our Shepherd is with us in this narrow path in life. We may feel hemmed in, but we are not. Jesus as our Shepherd leads us through the valley, He is beside us. He is WITH us.
In this past year, I have doubted, cried, felt lost, submitted, obeyed, rejoiced, gave it my all, stayed in my room, started writing, stopped and then relaunched a women’s Bible study, planned a wedding, gained a daughter, and grown closer to my Shepherd than I ever thought possible.
It has been quite the year. I am still in my valley, and a long road is stretched out like a licorice rope before me – but, I will not fear. I will obey His Word. Good thing our Bible study is in the Gospel of Mark because I am falling in love with Jesus all over again. God’s timing is perfect as I needed to be studying my Lord and Saviour just now because before I was afflicted I went astray. I was that wandering sheep. Always chasing that butterfly, smelling that wildflower, looking to find that something new. Following the Shepherd means being behind Him and going in the same direction.
What direction is that? The one that pleases God (Ephesians 5:10). And at the moment it involves suffering.
LORD GOD, You are my Shepherd. You know exactly what I need. You are Sovereign. I do thank You for the valley, because You are with me. I thank You because I need not fear. You are here. You are near. You are good. AMEN.