When I first met Mark, I walked like I was one hundred years old. My head was down. My feet shuffled in too-small steps. My back curved like an uppercase S. Mark was a physical therapist. And I did not want to spend time with him.
I'd been to see my neurosurgeon the day before.
"I'll just have surgery again," I said as I was propped against the exam table (I hurt too much to sit). An image of my back, discs bulging and protruding, was on the wall.
"I'd like you to try physical therapy," the doctor said.
"I don't have time for that," I said.
"Make time," he said.
I was in pain. The see-red kind. Make time? I had three small kids at home. Bath time meant sprawling on the bathroom floor while two toddlers splashed. Then I pulled my upper half to the rim of the tub to fish their slippery bodies out. Lunchtime meant pbj's - assembled while I curled on the kitchen rug. Samuel, then five, had tottered on a step stool to reach the peanut butter from the cupboard.
When I'd had surgery a few years before, the relief was immediate. And I'd healed fast.
"I'll give therapy a short try," I said. "But I meant it when I said I don't have time. I need to get well. I need you to fix my back."
So I went to see Mark. He did an evaluation. I was low functioning. And I'd need to go to therapy every day for the first week. There was homework, too. Each night I'd lie prostrate on the floor while Lonny lifted my hips to align with my shoulders. And I'd stay there for a long, long time.
"I need to be well," I grumbled. "I don't want to do this. If I'd had surgery, I'd be on the mend."
Days rolled into weeks, and I saw Mark regularly. He turned out to be a nice guy. A Christian. He never said so, but I believe he prayed for me while he helped me with my back.
Turns out he was an excellent physical therapist, too.
After a month or so, I sat at the dinner table with my family.
A few weeks after that, I resumed care of my kids.
And a short while later? I was full functioning again.
I hadn't wanted Mark to help me. But in God's good, sweet grace, he did. My back recovered - without surgery.
So I've been reminded of Mark recently. I've been thinking about the amazing things that happen when God uses his people.
I'm thinking of my teenage boy and the struggles that he's had. And I'm thinking of the good people that the Lord has placed in his life. My son may not want to be helped right now. But the Lord has him surrounded by people who care. He gives us a free will choice, but God is our pursuer. He's the softener of hearts. He's the lover of our souls. He's the one who makes miracles in the beating hearts of men.
He's the one who longs after that one lost sheep.
So I'll be patient and I'll continue to pray for my boy. And I'll pray for those sweet souls God has put in my boy's life, too.
Overall, I'm encouraged.
I know, from my experience with Mark, of the healing that can happen when the Lord uses his own.
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls down and has no one to help him up. Ecclesiastes 4:10