I read a post today about getting a tattoo.
Which reminded me of getting my tattoo.
Which reminded me of getting acupuncture.
Which reminded me of a Bible verse that I hadn’t considered for awhile.
It’s strange how my mind works.
One day while living in Hawaii, we were passing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to children that lived in a dangerous, low-income housing development. While doing so, I managed to trip, which led to me shattering my ankle. It was bad. In fact, if you want a good laugh, you can go to the website “My Broken Leg” and read my writing about it there.
Anyway, the broken leg resulted in surgery to put several pins and a plate in place. I figured that once surgery was completed, there would be no more pain. I was wrong. The pain was excruciating. And the leg took a very long time to heal. I was non-weight bearing for 8 weeks, gradually moving to weight bearing over the next four weeks, and walking with a cane for a long time after that. No fun.
In our church we had the sweetest Korean Doctor. He was very skilled in acupuncture and herbal medicine. He insisted that I come see him. I figured “Why not? Can’t hurt worse than the leg!”
I drove to his house that first day of treatment, having no idea what to expect. I was soon to find out.
As I sat down and he examined me, he told me that I was very unwell. At the time, I was also experiencing bleeding in the stomach and had just been diagnosed with a pituitary cyst. So to some degree he was correct. But I didn’t know what that meant in terms of acupuncture.
The sweet Dr. explained to me reflexology and how the nerves in the hands and feet are connected to other areas of our body. He then proceeded to start treatment.
Out came a jar of sterilized “pins” that looked innocent enough. I gave him my hand and he began, placing the first pin in the joint of my thumb. “Hmmm,” I thought, “that kind of stings.”
And then, for the next hour he painstakingly placed 50 pins in each hand…100 pins. Joints, creases, pads of my fingers, below my fingernails, in my fingernails. And as the pins added up, the piercing sensation was nearly unbearable. Now I’m tough physically. God has given me a high pain tolerance. But I will admit here that towards those last pins, as I watched little blood bubbles form all over my hand, I was biting my tongue hard and doing everything I could to not react or show that I was in pain. But it was hard!
I had to then sit in the living room for an hour with the pins in my hands, while he treated his next patient. After he was finished with him, he brought me back and removed the pins. I used my sore hands to drive back home, knowing that I was going to have to go back the following week because he told me to. And dreading it already.
But the word that comes to mind when I remember this story is “piercing”. That is the exact word I would use to describe the pain of this treatment. Soon the piercing was so great that I could no longer distinguish when another pin was being inserted; they all were piercing my very nerves, causing my body to shake and my eyes to water.
Piercing is a word that is used in scripture to describe scripture. Take a look at Hebrews 4:12:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
I love this verse. The picture it creates is vivid. The Word of God is alive. It is active. If it wasn’t alive, it wouldn’t be active. It wouldn’t have the impact that it has on thousands upon thousands of hearts and souls. I think we forget this easily. We forget that scripture is working within is, to produce what God wants produced in our lives. But it can’t work within us if we don’t also actively read it, digest it, think upon it.
Here’s where the acupuncture comes in: The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, and it pierces to the division of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow. Can you imagine anything much sharper than a two-edged sword back in the first century? I can’t. And it pierces to the point that it divides the soul and the spirit. It pierces to the point that it divides joints and marrow. Oh, I can relate to that. Those pins pierced my skin, touching the sensitive nerves in my hands in order to hopefully stimulate them to heal my body faster.
Here are the definitions of “pierce”:
- to penetrate into or run through (something), as a sharp, pointed dagger, object, or instrument does.
- to make a hole or opening in.
- to perforate.
In order for these things to happen to our soul, the word must be alive and active.
This is what scripture does. It pierces us. It divides our soul and spirit. And most importantly, it discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Scripture work is soul work. Does it hurt? Yes, sometimes it does, terribly so. It reveals sin, and that hurts. It teaches truths that we sometimes don’t want to hear. It reminds us that this earth is not our home, creating in us such a longing for our real home. Sometimes, thought, it is us that is hurting–just like my leg–and the piercing of the word of God stimulates healing in our soul. A strange sort of comfort that comes from embracing the words as living entities.
If you are not accustomed to studying scripture, this post may make you think “Why would I want to do something that hurts?” But sometimes healing can not come without pain. And sometimes our pain cannot be healed without the balm that the words provide in scripture. It works both ways. I don’t know how. But it does.
Eventually the excruciating pain in my leg eased up. I don’t know if the acupuncture is what did it or not. What I do know is that the pain in my heart eases with the piercing of God’s word in my soul. And though the “cure” hurts at times–excruciatingly so–the sweetness of relief and comfort of knowing that I am God’s child and He would never do anything that wasn’t for my good because He is sovereign, is enough.