I am a living witness to the miracle of modern medical implant technology. I have three implants, to be precise. None of which were on my life’s "to do" list. All of which were results of unexpected medical maladies. Despite my scars, I’ve learned what God implants in us, is more important and requires more faith than what it takes to submit to reconstructive surgery.
(Note: If you are squeamish about medical procedures, skip over the next paragraph.)
Most recently, I’ve had a new tooth implanted into my jawbone by a skilled periodontist. But that was pretty small compared to the work my orthopedist did: implanting a new titanium hip replacing the one that was ruining my gait for years. And back in ‘96, an amazing medical team removed tissue and muscle from one side of my body and re-implanted it on the other side to aid my recovery from breast cancer.
Each implant renewed my life in some way, reclaiming it from disease and deformity.
In each case success was not measured by the skills of the surgeons, important as that may be. Success was first measured by how well what was implanted worked in "natural" harmony with my body, and how strongly the implant bonded with my bones. But the ultimate success came later, measured by what I could do following the implant. Could I do new things that I previously could not? Was I changed for the better?
This has application to the spiritual life. Especially when things in our life are broken.
If we let God in and give him access to our most difficult and hurting parts of life, he will supply what we need most.
If we let God touch and treat what is hurting in us, he will act as a gentle, loving, and compassionate surgeon – taking us through the hard thing with hope – by correcting what is diseased or deformed in us.
In time, the scars will fade and we will find ourselves able to do new things.
But first, we have to humbly submit to the work God wants to do in us. He wants to bring us to wholeness (and holiness) because He loves us.
Sometimes Christians call this idea "being open to the action of the Holy Spirit."
Maybe the surgical implant analogy is too strong for all cases.
How about the work of the farmer, or the tiller of the soil? They cut and break open the soil in order to have it receive the seed.
Recall Jesus and the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8: 5-15 NAB): The good soil gives the greatest yield, for it was most open and best prepared to receive the seed – the word of God. The rich soil allows the seed to take root, and grow into a study plant.
In fact, Jesus compares the good soil to the persons "who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance (v.15)." This implies that being open to the word is not always easy, but worthy of the effort.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit gives us a word from the Lord that we to need to take in yet have trouble heeding. Sometimes a hard-yet-loving word requires some kind of permanent change in us. But it is for our own good – for our flourishing. Intuitively, we know this deep down, and can almost feel the relief it brings.
Conversion, renewal, and even, healing, begins when we humbly accept that word of God… by opening ourselves up, as the earth accepts the seed, or more radically, like giving our consent for the surgeon’s scalpel.
After taking it in, we must let God’s holy word (his will for us) take root, or perhaps, let it fuse with our bones. This way, God’s word becomes one with us, so we can live and move with it "naturally".
What is God planting in you these days? Is there an opening for his word to get inside of you?
Openness, and then surrender to the word – to what God is planting in us – is the key to Christian life. Nothing will ever grow, and certainly, nothing will ever get healed in us, unless we first surrender.
God can plant his word in us, but it bears fruit when we cooperate and act with it. Our actions must become one with that word. James 1: 21b-22 NAB emphatically reminds us:
"Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word and not hearers only."
God’s got his own miracle to implant in you: Receive the word. Then do it.
©2009 Patricia W. Gohn
About the Author
Pat Gohn is a married empty-nester with three adult children and four grandchildren. An author, catechist, speaker, and host of the Among Women podcast since 2009, her books include the award-winning Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, and All In: Why Belonging to the Catholic Church Matters. She works in Catholic publishing as an editor. Visit PatGohn.net