In my younger years, I spent a considerable amount of time with lower back pain toward my kidneys. If I bent over, crouched, or spent any amount of time in an unusual position I would be in agony for hours.
My mother had previously had kidney problems which ended in having a kidney removed, so I thought it prudent to have it checked. The visit to the doctor left me with an unusual find. I was diagnosed with ‘Floating Rib Syndrome.’ As most men who hear that their problem is not as serious as initially assumed, I didn’t ask questions and walked out of the doctor’s clinic relieved. It was only hours later that I began to think… what is a floating rib?
Before you Google it, let me explain… ‘Floating Rib Syndrome’ is a condition that is characterised by chronic dislocation of one or more ribs.
It can also be known as slipped rib syndrome where the bone pulls away due to a worn socket. It is very painful. The dislocation of the rib causes the attached muscles to become very sensitive and tender. They are given to extreme hard work and pain as they attempt to subdue the wayward bones. Heat can be applied as a temporary relief but the best results are found in the hands of a doctor or chiropractor who can purposefully manoeuvre the bones back into the socket.
I find the ‘floating rib syndrome’ very similar to some Christians. I refer to it as ‘floating person syndrome’. Sadly, both you and I know people with this syndrome.
Let me explain… Just like a floating rib, a floating person is an individual who has digressed from the socket of ‘committed Christian’. They either stray from worn beliefs or emotional injury. Given up and no longer considering themselves a part of the body of Christ, they wander back and forth going nowhere and not really achieving anything in the faith journey. In doing so they cause considerable pain for church leaders, friends and family.
We cannot ignore, remove or pass people off. We must accept, hope and believe that people can be reunited with Christ.
Those around them can temporarily relieve their condition by applying heat through firm convicting conversation and showing love and acceptance, but often results are short lived and again they are wandering further and increasing pain.
Isaiah 53:6 says: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…”
This is so true. We all have our days and sometimes even months where we turn to our own ways. God compares us to sheep here and reminds us that sheep have a tendency to wander. The beauty of this metaphor throughout the bible is that it also refers to Christ as our Shepherd.
Isaiah 40:11 says: “Like a shepherd He (Jesus) will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.”
David in the Psalms writes that “Jesus leads up by still waters and restores our souls”. The truth about those whom have strayed is that it is only the ‘Hand of God’ which is able to slowly massage and maneuver their hearts back into right relationship. Yes, we can and should show love (firmly if needed), but we are not required to fix their situation. We are not God. Our love and acceptance combined with God’s working hands is the ultimate combination.
Like my floating rib, I didn’t ignore it, I didn’t remove it and I didn’t pass it off as useless. Rather I persevered because without it I was a lesser man. I requested the help of the doctor and accepted his wisdom in the situation. Likewise, we cannot ignore, remove or pass people off. We must accept, hope and believe that these individuals, created and loved by God can be reunited with the body, because without them, the bride of Christ is a lesser being.
Maybe there have been a few people in your world who have strayed and you have found yourself in pain trying to be their solution. Maybe there are friends or family who have not even met Christ in your life that cause your heart pain. Why not take this opportunity to:
- Be still and know that God is God
- Connect with those who are not in right relationship with Christ and encourage them.
This is a perfect moment to pray and ask God to continue His work as master surgeon in the operation of heart restoration.