By Brenda Black
A tingling, taught sensation pulsated through my knee. I knew it was swelling and I could detect instant puffiness since the problem has become all too familiar the past couple of weeks. I prop up my foot and ice down the right knee after every workout now and I've started using a brace. By all indications, I've pushed this old knee a little too far with weights, lunges, 4 mile walks and up-and-down circuit training that have all depended on support from this small, but invaluable joint.
As I tolerate the aggravating set-back, I'm thinking about those in the family who have endured or are facing knee surgery. And I think about the hundreds of miles my husband has jogged our gravel road and the thousands of hours he has ground his knee cap into cement floors, crawling and troweling to give concrete customers a satin finish at the cost of a calloused patella. My husband's denims are thread-thin evidence of such hard labor.
Our efforts to exercise and his dedication to duty are taking their toll on both cartilage and the blue jean budget around here, but our bigger concern is whether our knees are worn out from holy use. Holiness isn't a condition, it's a position – a humble, kneeling crouch at the foot of the cross. We spend time trying to get physically fit. We use our physical strength to work diligently, but are we spiritually down in the trenches, humbly praying?
God made knees for sitting and running and bouncing grandkids and kicking soccer balls. But He also made them for kneeling, not just bearing a load or baring skin through a pair of worn out britches. I want to wear my knees out for a holy cause! Tim Hansel's book Holy Sweat says it best right on the font cover: “Holy Sweat – The remarkable things ordinary people can do when they let God use them!” I want to be used! How about you?
If you are like me, the only way we will ever fulfill this knee-cessity is to ice down our old ways and wrap ourselves in the Word of God so that we know how to live and know what to pray. “Therefore, prepare your minds for action;” Peter instructs in his first letter to “God's elect, strangers in the world...” (1 Peter 1:13a).
“...be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'” (1 Pet. 1:13b-16)
Still wondering what to pray? “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess yours sins to each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:13-16)
This is a wholly, holy revelation when you stop and think about it. In back-to-back books on pages bound through the ages to appear right next to one another, in parallel passages that have been identically numbered, 13 through 16, James and Peter subscribe a healthy protocol for holiness.
Peter says prepare you minds for action while James says ask for help. Holiness is half as effective when we practice it apart from our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is best demonstrated when we put it to use. We might just be someone's only intercessor. Always be ready to pray for those who ask.
Peter warns be self-controlled and set your hope fully on the grace of Jesus Christ. James says call for help. People will only ask for help if they know it is safe. Holiness offers compassion, not judgment. As we stand in the gap for others, we must be careful to pray from a place of grace.
James compels us to confess our sins so that we might be forgiven. Peter promises that holiness is possible for those who are obedient and do not conform to their evil desires. Holiness follows repentance. We can't pray for others until we first pray for ourselves.
Holiness is born out of humility on the part of the those who ask for prayer and those who offer it. Together, we can brace one another for the long haul and enjoy a pain free eternity if we strive to be holy because Christ is holy. This is the work that is knee-cessary.