That’s Coho Salmon caught about 13 miles out on Lake Michigan. And that’s my son-in-law sitting down because if he we’re standing, well . . . he wouldn’t be standing. We’d be fishing him out of the water too, or off the deck of the boat. This is because he has muscular dystrophy.
The world has always valued muscular strength, and for good reason: Someone has to un-lid those stubborn jars! Physical strength is a wonderful gift from the Lord, like his many other gifts. But, we live in a broken world with a thousand broken ways of brokenness. And unfortunately, we often idolize our strengths without a thought of humility that we have been blessed. You see this in sports where there is more muscle-mass on display than in any other venue of life. Especially in weight lifting, football, and any combat sport. But you can also see this in a little boys’ bedroom as he picks up his metal-frame bed at the footboard, making that Six Million Dollar Man sound, pretending that he’s the strongest of them all: ttttrrrrrnnaaannnaannnaannn . . .
That boy was me as I would finish watching a 70’s episode of Lee Majors lifting a car off the ground to save a little old lady; god-like strength has always been a marvel. And don’t even get me started on the recent years of muscular strength displayed in the Marvel Comic stream of movies. Point: mankind has always marveled in extra-ordinary muscles – as far back as the Greek stories of Atlas and Hercules.
Joey Slogar III, my daughter’s husband, and father of my grandchildren, does not have much of what this world prizes. But he does have what out-lasts muscle-tissue: a soul. In fact, everyone has a soul – it’s that part of our humanity that is immaterial and eternal. We all know it to be true of ourselves because we all want to live forever in a place where brokenness ceases to exist, and death is forever banished. But more than a soul is needed for this kind of joyful vitality. It takes a soul that knows the one whose body was completely broken down and yet rose victorious over all that this broken world could dish out. To live forever with no fracture of body or mind needs a healer who has the power and authority to overturn the dystrophy of the soul. Yes, the dystrophy of the soul is our greatest threat. And since Joey loves Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, the greatest threat to Joey’s long-term paralysis is already defeated. Let’s say it with pictures:
This is what muscles look like when you’re young.
This is what muscles look like when you’re old.
And this is what muscles look like when you’re dead.
But this is what muscles look like when they are dystrophic, BUT the soul, which is more than muscles, enjoys the good gifts of the Lord.
Joey is more than his muscles in the best way possible. He knows who is mightier than the brokenness of man. True, his biceps don’t have the impressive flex factor that others have, but as the apostle Paul reminded young Timothy, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” – (1 Timothy 4:8). This means that for everyone whose muscles are either in atrophy or in dystrophy – makes no difference; the most important thing is the pursuit of knowing the godliness of the Lord. We must remember that being born with visible brokenness is not due to mom and dad’s sin (John 9:3a). But due to sin, which is unbelief and rejection of God who sent his Son, all of us come into the world with our hearts not merely weak, but dead and condemned (John 3:18-19). The good news is that if Jesus can raise the spiritually dead, then it is a cinch to also provide a new body (Matt. 9:5; John 11:25).
The pain of muscle-loss in this life is temporary. The pain of soul-loss is forever. This is why it is important for all of us to remember while living in a muscle-idolizing culture, that we are more than our muscles.For those who have come under the grace that is in Christ Jesus, like Joey, muscular dystrophy will not have the final word. Jesus will – and that’s the point:
“. . . that the works of God might be displayed in him” – John 9:3b!