In Chapter 5 the inflexible joints dealt with judgments and statutes, and how we must relate to them. These are God’s rules for working directly with us. The actions originate in heaven– for the most part out of sight of earthlings– but definitely affecting us here on earth. This chapter deals with those laws for relationships that really challenge personal growth and character building–intimate relationships, like husband/wife, parent/child, master/servant.
The scientific term for slightly movable joints is “amphiarthroses”. “Amphi-” comes from the Greek word meaning “on both or all sides, of both kinds, in two ways.” In the very naming of the joint emphasis is placed not on movement, though noticeable motion is a new feature, but on duality. At first this appears strange because joints always involve at least two bones! But those who have made a study of bones and joints have observed a peculiar bonding in amphiarthroses. In this type of joint two or more bones are virtually tied together. Though slight motion is allowed, these skeletal structures are forever united by disks of fibrocartilage or by ligaments.
But with greater freedoms comes the need for more complexity in government, and with that more “securities”.
Wesley, our first-born, was a very contented baby. For a long time we thought play pens were an unnecessary part of parenting. We could set him on the floor, put a few toys within reach, and know that he would not wander from the spot. Then on his first birthday he learned about crawling (thanks to his grandma). All of a sudden child-proofing became important! Cupboard doors, drawers, electrical outlets, mouth-sized items, plants and other breakables on the floor were all danger zones to our inquisitive little man– like the time he discovered the refrigerator, and ate a pound of margarine! Where did we put that playpen!
Amphiarthroses allows for more freedom of movement than synarthroses. But the Creator also added several “protective” measures, joint surfaces covered with hyaline cartilage (to minimize wear), intervening disks of shock-absorbing fibrocartilage, and strong, flexible bands of white fibrous connective tissue (ligaments). Each of these tissues are composed of elastin and/or collagen. And we will see what all this compares to in character-building shortly
This structural protein teaches us many principles of grace.
Grace is an attribute of God shown to undeserving human beings. We did not seek after it, but it was sent in search of us. God rejoices to bestow this grace on everyone who hungers for it, not because we are worthy, but because we are so utterly unworthy. Our need is the qualification which gives us the assurance that we will receive this gift. ML 100
Wherever we see collagen in the body God wants us to think of grace, the merits of Christ given to us without any worthiness on our part. Hyaline cartilage, almost pure collagen, covers the ends of the bones (where the action–as well as greatest stress–is). Wherever we see the law in action, we (who have studied the lessons in the bones) know that grace is there making that motion free of distress and pain.
In this chapter we are studying the type of laws that are designed for personal character development in intimate relationships. Ligaments, which help hold these joints together, teach us how we are to personally relate to law in whatever capacity we find ourselves, as a spouse, parent, child, servant, etc.
Fibrous connective tissue, the stuff which composes ligaments, also contains large numbers of white collagenous fibers. Here the fibers all go in the same direction (in cartilage they have no single direction) and are closely packed together. This makes the tissue very strong and only slightly elastic.
When we look for what ligaments represent in the spiritual body, we must consider this single direction and close bonding characteristic. Then when we combine this with the other aspects of collagen1 and the unique function of ligaments2 we get a total picture.
We find that the “collagen” in spiritual ligaments can be expressed as grace shown in little attentions and courtesies— little, almost insignificant things of life, things that give strength, reach long distances, bend easily without breaking, and strengthen when in greater numbers. When they have a single purpose (going the same direction) God uses them to unite His precepts in a way that will make His laws useful in service. We can think of their whitish appearance as pointing to their purity of motive, their absence of self-centeredness or self-serving.
True love is…. the little attentions, the numerous small incidents and simple courtesies of life, that make up the sum of life’s happiness. 2T 133
Acts of kindness performed in secret will bind hearts together, and will draw them closer to the heart of Him from whom every generous impulse springs. MB 82-3
Gentle manners, cheerful conversation, and loving acts will bind the hearts of children to their parents by the silken cords of affection and will do more to make home attractive than the rarest ornaments that can be bought for gold. AH 426-7
We should be self-forgetful, ever looking out for opportunities, even in little things, to show our gratitude for the favors we have received of others, and watching for opportunities to cheer others and lighten and relieve their sorrows and burdens by acts of tender kindness and little acts of love. These thoughtful courtesies that, commencing in our families, extend outside the family circle help make up the sum of life’s happiness; and the neglect of these little things makes up the sum of life’s bitterness and sorrow. AH 428
A collagen disorder is devastating to the body! Stunted growth. Brittle bones. No repairing of wounds. The list of tormenting sicknesses is almost endless. The same holds true for a “little attentions” disorder to friendships, business relationships, marriages, and families–nearly any kind of bonding.
Relationships, like our tissues, require a constant renewal of this most vital substance to remain fresh and vibrant. God’s grace that we express as thoughtfulness, gratefulness, kindness, etc. are to relationships what collagen is to ligaments.
There are parts of some bones in this group that are united by bands of elastic cartilage (like the spinous processes of the vertebrae). In this part of the body the stretchable nature of elastin acts something like a muscle to keep the back straight. As we bend over the fibers stretch, but as soon as our muscles relax the fibers help pull the bones back to their original position.
Elastin is the physical counterpart of mercy, compassion, forgiveness. Elasticity helps us live with those circumstances or people that would otherwise be offensive and irritating, and allows us to recover quickly when others try to twist and warp our character. When it is present in the spiritual body it works automatically, like the elastin in the back, to bring correction. The branching aspect of elastin defines how the networks of mercy, compassion, and forgiveness form: when we receive mercy and forgiveness from God we are expected to impart the same to those around us3. And the recipients of our forgiveness pass it on to still others.
We are not forgiven because we forgive, but as we forgive. The ground of all forgiveness is found in the unmerited love of God, but by our attitude toward others we show whether we have made that love our own. It is true that he may once have received forgiveness; but his unmerciful spirit shows that he now rejects God’s pardoning love. He has separated himself from God, and is in the same condition as before he was forgiven. He has denied his repentance, and his sins are upon him as if he had not repented. COL 251
These divine virtues are assigned the color yellow, the color of gold4. As white can symbolize purity, yellow can stand for value.
Psalm 19:9-10 …the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold…
Where little attentions (collagen) builds and strengthens relationships, mercy, forgiveness, compassion (elastin) enriches them. These are the major components, to varying degrees, of ligaments and cartilage.
Wherever we find ligaments and cartilage binding joints together, we have depicted situations where certain laws are dependent on expressions of divine love: thoughtfulness, gratitude, appreciation, forgiveness, and compassion. Here we find no quarreling, coveting, emulating, striving for highest positions. The total atmosphere is calm, peaceful, heavenly. But such a model is not designed for quick repair when a break occurs–if full recovery is even possible. There is no higher or greater virtue to offer than love to bring healing.
You ever notice how long it takes for a torn ligament or a cartilage injury to heal? This gives us a little glimpse into why some broken relationships are so hard to repair… and what to do about them!
The problem has to do with the blood supply. Blood vessels are scantily supplied in ligaments and completely lacking in cartilage. Vessels allow for rapid removal of toxic waste and immediate delivery of restoring nutrients. The nourishing, revitalizing virtues of blood are received in these tissues mostly by diffusion. Restoration is dependent upon the dispersion of wastes and nutrients through nearby tissues and cells.
The Creator has designed the body to characterize various divisions of His kingdom. Many of those divisions on earth require a constant bathing of His blood– an atonement you might say. (It seems whatever we humans put our hands to sin rears its ugly head and we must turn to our Savior for repair.) But there are areas, places, or times where His merits are needed only indirectly, not to redeem and reclaim but to manage and maintain.
Cartilage, completely lacking a blood supply, and ligaments, having only a scanty supply, illustrates laws governing the innocence of babyhood5 and those of marriage. Babies have not had a chance to understand and react to divine precepts (and thus choose to sin), and God, in turn, graciously forms their little bodies into perfect specimens of Himself6. What they are is no reflection on their personal choices. Marriage is also characteristic of heaven’s atmosphere.
Isaiah 55:5 For thy Maker is thine husband…
Jeremiah 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you…
The laws of a marriage contract are vitally dependent on the vows taken during the marriage ceremony– the most solemn vows two individuals can make. These pledges are to bind one to the other as closely as ligaments bind certain joints. The absence of a generous supply of blood vessels tells us that such promises are not made to be broken, for once broken healing is slow and painful. Only Christ’s grace can make marriage what He intended it to be, a haven of unity, peace, and love. Marriage is supposed to be a sampling of heaven on earth7. This is why marriage is used to illustrate the union of Christ with His church.
Marriage, a union for life, is a symbol of the union between Christ and His church. AH 95
Eph. 5:31,32 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
But woe to those marriages where a rift occurs! The presence of a few vessels in the ligament tissue assures us healing is possible, but besides being very painful it usually requires a long time.
THE UNPARDONABLE SIN
Cartilage, however, completely lacks a vascular network. This does not necessarily describe a negative condition, but possibly a very positive one, along with a most solemn warning. Such a condition typifies the environment of heaven– the only place in God’s kingdom where Christ’s blood could not be spilled, where redemption by blood was not possible.
What about the cartilage that is associated with most joints? What does it tell us about the law? Cartilage implies that complete recovery is not possible in some cases. Such situations do not describe the vagrants on skid row. NO! NO! God has provided copious amounts of blood for such souls. The ones in greatest danger are those who have once enjoyed the atmosphere of heavenly riches . . . and turned away.
HEBREWS 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Look what happened in the pure atmosphere of heaven, where Christ was never known as “Savior”, where no lamb had been slain, or blood shed. Sin and repentance were unknown.
Angels that were loyal and true sought to reconcile this mighty, rebellious angel to the will of his Creator…. They anxiously sought to move him to renounce his wicked design and yield submission to their Creator; for all had heretofore been peace and harmony, and what could occasion this dissenting, rebellious voice? Lucifer refused to listen…. Their high and happy state had been held upon condition of obedience to the law which God had given to govern the high order of intelligences. But no provision had been made to save those who should venture to transgress His law. SR 15,18
But even angels who had chosen to remain true and loyal to their Master had been affected by sin. There were questions in their minds, perplexities beyond their grasp. God had to show them and the unfallen worlds the true nature of sin and its deadly results. Thus our earth became the theater of the universe, the location from which Christ’s blood would flow to bring spiritual strength and nourishment to all parts of His kingdom.
VERY SPECIAL JOINTS
Laws come in all different designs, as do bones. And their purposes are just as varied. We can learn much by studying different bones and how they are associated with other bones.
Amphiarthrosis describes certain joints that are bound by strong cords of either ligaments or cartilage. This tells us that there are certain laws in different parts of God’s kingdom that also require this unique bonding. Such joints are in very special places.
The kind of joint that connects the vertebrae in our spine is called a symphysis. This is a partially movable joint in which portions of bones are covered with hyaline cartilage and connected by an intervening disc of fibrocartilage. The center of the disc is filled with a fibrogelatinous pulp, acting as a shock-absorbing cushion. The emphasis in symphasis is pressure.
God has designed the spine to show us a distinctive relationship to His law. This particular group of bones stacks one upon another like blocks in a pillar. Each one becomes a foundation for the ones to follow. Many of the sciences we use today are based upon this stacking principle. For example, you first learn simple arithmetic, then include the concepts of algebra. Once these rules are mastered you can add geometry or trigonometry, and to these calculus, etc. The latter builds upon the former until there is a strong column ready to bear up under any computational challenge. So there are laws of God’s kingdom that have this stacking characteristic, requiring obedience before advancement is made to higher laws. A case in point is Peter’s ladder.
II PETER 1:4-8 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises…. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is borne out in daily living as well.
A girl was looking in a clover patch for a four-leaf clover. Others in her group had already found several. After about 30-40 seconds the girl straightened up and sighed, “I just don’t have the patience to look for those things.” Someone from the group quipped, “Then you need more temperance!” (How true those words.)
An intemperate man cannot be a patient man. Those who eat and work intemperately and irrationally, talk and act irrationally. 1T 618
THE TEST OF CHARACTER
The bones in the spine instruct us of the laws intended to help us through trial, to help us develop an upright character, and to help us move gracefully through life. The Creator included special cushions with these bones.
Damage to the spine, or its misalignment, can have serious consequences. Vertebrae are the only bones made to surround the spinal cord, the brain’s vital communication cable with the rest of the body. We all have seen victims of spinal injuries moving about in wheelchairs or confined to beds the rest of their lives. With these bones you just don’t want to take chances!
This tells us that there are also laws of God that must be sacredly guarded, that carelessness in obeying them could seriously cripple the body as well as the soul. And it is these laws, laws designed to protect the transmission of God’s word, which bear the greatest consequences when not in proper alignment or when broken. It is these laws that we call the moral backbone of the Christian.
The only Scriptural reference to the backbone8 comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to make firm”. Today we still refer to this idea of the spine relating to firmness of character (that guy has real backbone) or the lack of moral courage (He is spineless!).
The path that Christ marks out is a narrow, self-denying path. To enter that path and press on through difficulties and discouragements, requires men who are more than weaklings…. Some have no firmness of character. Their plans and purposes have no definite form and consistency. They are of but little practical use in the world. This weakness, indecision, and inefficiency should be overcome. There is in true Christian character an indomitableness that cannot be molded or subdued by adverse circumstances. We must have moral backbone, an integrity that cannot be flattered, bribed, or terrified. EVANGELISM 479-480
But that which purifies our character and strengthens our moral backbone is test and trial.
This world is God’s workshop, where He fashions us for the courts of heaven. He uses the planing knife upon our quivering hearts until the roughness and irregularities are removed and we are fitted for our proper places in the heavenly building. Through tribulation and distress the Christian becomes purified and strengthened, and develops a character after the model that Christ has given. 4T 143
Ligaments are not the only thing we need to get through the rough places of life. We also need cushions. But in the design of our body the Creator has stated that not all bones require cushions. But where cushions are, they are needed. This is true for bones and character… and cars.
It was more heard than felt, but Mark, a high school junior, was certain of it. Something was wrong with his car. It sounded like metal hitting metal– a sound that up to this time was unknown in his recently acquired vehicle. A careful inspection revealed the problem: a rubber motor mount had broken loose.
This was Mark’s first car, a partially restored ’57 Chevy, and he was proud of it. Right now he was saving up to replace the banged up front fender, then he could paint it that bright fire red color he saw in a car magazine a few months ago. But repairing an old motor mount was not a priority at this time.
Days faded into weeks. Annoyed by the irritating noise and concerned with the new vibrations, Mark lifted the hood to see what was going on, but could see nothing serious happening. He did notice, however, the other motor mount was now loose and some signs of wear where the other one used to be. But since the investment of time and money would delay the scheduled paint job that Tuesday, Mark closed the hood. “A couple rubber cushions couldn’t be all that important,” he reasoned.
The new color was perfect. Not even a run. Mark proudly admired his sporty little Chevy. It was now fully restored with a motor that had not yet found its match in the street races with his buddies. And the attentions and compliments by his friends eroded away any thoughts of under-the-hood repairs. The once irritating noise and vibrations faded into the background and eventually were completely forgotten.
But ignoring a problem doesn’t always make it go away. The designers of Mark’s car knew the torque and strain of the motor against the frame could eventually cause serious problems if the motor was not properly cushioned, so hard rubber motor mounts were created.
Two weeks before graduation in Mark’s senior year brought a lot of special activity and excitement. Proms, banquets, sporting events, parties were all intense. And so were the street race challenges. All the fellows in the senior class, it seemed, wanted to end the year with the honor Mark had held for so long, but the owner of the bright red Chevy was not about to lose his place.
The last day of exams had just ended. The next day, the last day, was to be a round of celebrations before the students began the summer break. The anticipation was high as Mark slid into the driver seat. Immediately he was surrounded by 18 cars, all souped up to perfection. He knew what that meant– the final challenge at Vine Street, the town’s dedicated street racing road. They slowly cruised the four blocks as the rest of the school raced ahead for best positions to watch the race. This was it!
The rules of the race were simple:
1. Only two cars at a time.
2. The distance was the marked 1/4 mile.
3. The challenger would hit his horn three times. The third honk began the race.
Seventeen cars. Seventeen victories for the bright red Chevy. Mark’s most feared competitor, the class president in his yellow Triumph, was now beside him at the starting line, his motor growling and belching defiance. Mark’s nerves were tense, his total being ready for the third honk. The routine was now instinct: race motor-pop clutch-quick shift at the specified RPMs. (His Magnafluxed engine had the advantage of enduring higher RPMs in first gear before needing to shift, and shifting took precious time when the race was only seconds long.)
One. Motor raced. Two. Muscles poised. Three! Clutch popped. Then it happened. The sound was excruciating and loud: metal tearing into metal, water hissing, gears grinding. As quick as it happened it was over. Mark’s pride and joy was dead. The extra heavy torquing of the motor, unrestrained by the hard rubber cushions, had virtually twisted the motor off its frame. The fan blade ripped through the radiator, cut hose and wires, and shattered anything weaker than itself before breaking into a thousand pieces. The transmission, not to be outdone, wrenched itself into grotesque shapes, exploding the overheated gears in all directions.
Pieces of carburetor, wires, hoses, valves, gears, tie rods, pistons all lay heaped together under the fire red hood, hissing their disapproval, as Mark slumped over the steering wheel. He knew what happened, and why: rubber motor mounts.
In certain places cushions are important, whether it be for a motor, a set of bones, or a developing character.
I Cor. 10:13 God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
The God who designed the spine with little spongy pads of fibrocartilage tucked between each vertebrae is the same God who made provision for a bolster in every trial. The purpose is the same: to soften the blow, to cushion the shock, to make movements easy and graceful. What are these living “pillows” in our spiritual body?
First of all, since the pads are made of CONNECTIVE TISSUE (like the ligaments), we know they come from LOVE . Second, their dense COLLAGEN composition, called fibrocartilage, states that GRACE is a definite and greater part of them. So exactly what aspect of love and grace is it? What is its function in the body of Christ? As you read the following thought, look for something that undergirds the law, is full of grace, and comes from God.
The conditions of eternal life, under grace, are just what they were in Eden– perfect righteousness, harmony with God, perfect conformity to the principles of His law. The standard of character presented in the Old Testament is the same that is presented in the New Testament. This standard is not one to which we cannot attain. In every command or injunction that God gives there is a promise, the most positive, underlying the command. God has made provision that we may become like unto Him, and He will accomplish this for all who do not interpose a perverse will and thus frustrate His grace. MB 76
You catch it? PROMISES! Promises of God. Living, active, dependable, sensitive-to-our-need promises. Promises which comfort, soften, absorb the blows of life, but promises that are dependent upon our cooperation.
In the word of God there are gracious promises, from which those who are suffering, whether in body or in mind, may receive comfort and hope and encouragement. CH 213
The slightly moveable joints are joined by ligaments or by disks of fibrocartilage. Besides the spine I want us to look in another place where we find these special pillows, between the bones of the pelvic girdle (called the symphysis pubis).
The pubis is the foremost (most forward part) of the three sections of the hipbone, located in the front area above the groin. This particular region of our body is usually well-covered and kept from public view because it is associated with some of the body’s most private activities: excreting body wastes and sexual activity. That the protective cushion of fibrocartilage should be also found here is most significant and thrilling.
To Christians, to those who understand God’s purposes, there is an area, central to the spiritual body, that is also considered very personal. It is associated with the disagreeable (and oftentimes embarrassing) expulsion of sins (sometimes compared to body excrement in scriptures9) and, at the same time, provides the mechanism for spiritual intercourse with the divine. We call it simply THE CROSS.
The revelation of God’s love to men centers in the cross. Its full significance tongue cannot utter; pen cannot portray; the mind of man cannot comprehend. 8T 287
THE SHAME OF THE CROSS
That the cross is associated with shame and unpleasant duties is without question. Though historians teach us that crucifixion involved complete denuding of criminals before nailing them to the cross, and though the Bible affirms that Christ’s clothes were removed10, Christian artists have never been able to portray a completely naked Christ on the cross. We Christians just cannot handle the shame of the cross.
In Paul’s day the cross was regarded with feelings of repulsion and horror. To uphold as the Saviour of mankind one who had met death on the cross, would naturally call forth ridicule and opposition. AA 245
The cross is used to symbolize anything unpleasant that is required of us (as the cross was to Christ). This is sometimes referred to as “the shadow of the cross.”
Matt. 16:24 Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Self-denial and the cross lie directly in the pathway of every follower of Christ. The cross is that which crosses the natural affections and the will. If the heart is not wholly sanctified to God, if the will and affections and thoughts are not brought into subjection to the will of God, there will be a failure to carry out the principles of true religion and to exemplify in the life the life of Christ. There will not be a true desire to sacrifice ease and self-love, and the carnal mind will not be crucified to work the works of Christ. 2T 651
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CROSS
The pubic area is associated not only with bathroom duties but also with those delights enjoyed in the marriage chamber. Blood is essential here too, for this red living fluid is what engorges the male member, making intercourse possible. And blood is what also stiffens the female’s sensitive clitorus, making the time together most pleasurable. So the cross, to Christians, and the blood that is associated with it, is related to some of life’s greatest joys, privileges, and pleasures.
In our physical as well as in our spiritual body the Creator has taken the uncomely parts and on them bestowed much honor. What was done on the cross unites us to Christ. It is because Christ did not avoid the cross that we can have new life and can be born into His family, and be inheritors of eternal glories.
ICor. 12:23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
ICor. 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
We must gather about the cross. Christ and Him crucified must be the theme of contemplation, of conversation, and of our most joyful emotion. We should have these special appointments for the purpose of keeping fresh in our thoughts everything which we receive from God, and of expressing our gratitude for His great love, and our willingness to trust everything to the hand that was nailed to the cross for us. 4T 462
THE SINGULAR PROMISE
As we learned with the spine, these organic cushions are the physical counterpart of special PROMISES of God, graciously designed to assist us in the trials and stresses put upon our personal character. This being so, it is most interesting to me that with the importance of this area to the body there is connected with it only a singular pad of fibrocartilage. This suggests that the cross of Christ, CENTRAL to our Christian experience, offers a unique promise found nowhere else. This promise is to be associated with the expulsion of sin, the creation of new life, and the enjoyment of holy pleasures that bond two into one. In fact it is here, and here only, that we will find that which will encourage us to endure, to persevere, to hold firm to the end. What is it?
The cross of Calvary is to us the pledge of everlasting life. SD 248
Let all, from the highest to the lowest, understand what it means to glory in the cross of Christ. That cross is to be bravely and manfully borne. . . . And to all who will lift it, and bear it after Christ, the cross is a pledge of the crown of glory that can never fade away. SD 231
The promise of a life without pain, sorrow, grief, sin, a life of unbroken happiness, of rewarding, pleasant labor, of unlimited opportunity for travel and self-development and growth, and of association throughout eternity with unfallen beings (whose greatest joy is to make others happy) is a promise that has no equal. This singular pledge is designed to lighten the load, strengthen the weak knees, encourage the downcast, brighten the sorrowing. Without the cross Christians would be a miserable lot!
DESSERT MUST WAIT
There are two things of which life is made: duties and pleasures. In the providence of God pleasure is to come last for He designed pleasure to satisfy, to make whatever comes before it tolerable, endurable. The cross comes before the crown, but the crown makes the cross endurable. It even did for Christ!
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…
Little Cristy hated broccoli. For as long as she could remember she had always hated broccoli. Mother finally stopped serving it since her daughter made such a fuss.
When Cristy was eight years old she spent the summer with grandma out on the farm, and before the summer was over she was asking for broccoli at suppertime! What made the difference?
Grandma knew about Cristy’s disgust with broccoli and determined to help her with it. That’s why the invitation for the summer (unbeknownst to the eight-year old). But Grandma also knew something else– Cristy’s favorite desert, strawberry pie. And no one could beat Grandma’s award-winning pie because she grew the tastiest and biggest strawberries anyone had ever seen. And the whipped cream was made fresh from Daisy, a sweet old cow that followed Cristy around like a dog. Cristy loved Daisy almost as much as strawberry pie. And anything Daisy gave had to be good!
The very first day the little city girl asked her grandma, “Can I have strawberry pie for desert tonight?” Grandma smiled and said, “It is already waiting for you in the refrigerator, Dear!” Her favorite desert made the very best way with Daisy’s rich cream whipped on top. Nothing could beat that! The only stipulation, Grandma said, was that everything on the plate had to be all eaten first.
The day went fast. When Grandma called at suppertime Cristy had been outside telling Daisy all about life in the big city. In a flash she was washed up and sitting at the table. No second calls to supper for her! When Grandma put the plate before her Cristy’s smile disappeared, for in one corner was a little piece of broccoli! She knew what Grandma said she had to do before she could have desert, but Cristy was NOT going to eat broccoli! She whined, pleaded, threatened, and did everything her eight-year old mind could think of to get to that strawberry pie without having to eat her broccoli. But nothing worked. The struggle was terrible. That night she did not have pie.
Nor did she the next night. Nor the next. The fourth evening she ate her broccoli, with some of Daisy’s butter melted on top, and enjoyed her first taste of Grandma’s strawberry pie. It was even better than she had ever remembered!
It was while she was finishing up her last bite of pie that Grandma told her her plan. She can have strawberry pie for supper any time she wants, but there will always be broccoli on the plate before it.
Before the summer was over Cristy was asking for broccoli every night!
Paul knew what Christy learned, that the delight of the cross is worth far more than any duty. The cross brings us into intimate association with Christ, and there, in His presence, we find our strength and joy and pleasures for evermore.
IICor. 12:9-10 My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
And perhaps for this reason, that we might see the simplicity and beauty of the cross and be encouraged, the Creator placed a single pad in the pubis symphasis.
JOINTS WITHOUT PADS
There is one other type of slightly movable joint– one bound tightly by strong ligaments but lacking the pad of fibrocartilage. Such joints are called syndesmosis. These are located in areas of the body where pressure is not a great consideration, but close proximity is. In these joints there is considerably more fibrous connective tissue than in a suture, and the fit between the bones is not quite as tight.
The joint in the lower leg between the distal ends of the tibia and fibula is such an articulation. Another is where the clavical and sternum attach. Here the bones are either alongside or next to one another and must be held tightly together. Movement in such joints is extremely limited. The emphasis is togetherness without cushions, pads, or pillows; just doing a work together.
There certainly is a need for such action in the spiritual body!
God is leading out a people, not a few separate individuals here and there, one believing this thing, another that. Angels of God are doing the work committed to their trust. The third angel is leading out and purifying a people, and they should move with him unitedly. Some run ahead of the angels that are leading this people; but they have to retrace every step, and meekly follow no faster than the angels lead. I saw that the angels of God would lead His people no faster than they could receive and act upon the important truths that are communicated to them. But some restless spirits do not more than half do up their work. As the angel leads them, they get in haste for something new, and rush on without divine guidance, and thus bring confusion and discord into the ranks. 1T 207
Yes, in the body of Christ harmonious action is important, unity essential, brotherhood among believers critical. As we learn to work as one we show the world our document of heavenly citizenship.
To be children of God, members of the royal family, means more than many suppose. Those who are accounted by God as His children will reveal Christlike love for one another. They will live and work for one object,–the proper representation of Christ to the world. By their love and unity they will show to the world that they bear the divine credentials. By the nobility of love and self-denial, they will show those around them that they are true followers of the Saviour. . . . The true children of God are bound up with one another and with their Saviour. They are one with God. SD 293
And, again, God does not leave us in question as to how we can achieve that oneness in spirit and labor. We have found that those tissues which bind bone to bone in these joints are the counterpart of little attentions and courtesies, gratitude and thankfulness.
If our lives are filled with holy fragrance, if we honor God by having good thoughts toward others, and doing good deeds to bless others, it matters not whether we live in a cottage or a palace. Circumstances have but little to do with the experiences of the soul. It is the spirit cherished which gives coloring to all our actions. A man at peace with God and his fellow men cannot be made miserable. Envy will not be in his heart; evil surmising will find no room there; hatred cannot exist. The heart in harmony with God is lifted above the annoyances and trials of this life. But a heart where the peace of Christ is not, is unhappy, full of discontent; the person sees defects in everything, and he would bring discord into the most heavenly music. A life of selfishness is a life of evil. Those whose hearts are filled with love of self will store away evil thoughts of their brethren and will talk against God’s instrumentalities. . . . Let each one who claims to follow Christ esteem himself less and others more. Press together, press together! In union there is strength and victory; in discord and division there is weakness and defeat. These words have been spoken to me from heaven. As God’s ambassador I speak them to you. 5T 488
Joints tell us about the different actions law has in the body of Christ. Some are not apparent to man, but others are. This chapter dealt with those laws in which slight movement is allowed, as is associated with intimate relationships. One thing we noticed was the difference in how certain bones were joined. Those that allow for restricted movement are surrounded with strong living cords—some fairly inflexible and some quite elastic, some with cushions and some without.
In some places God allows movement based upon His gracious promises. As long as these promises are fresh and vibrant trial and disappointment will give little disturbance and our activities will be safe, pleasant, and beneficial. The multiplication of pads in the spine point us to a collection of promises to help us when pressure mounts and trials buffet. The singular pad in the pubis symphasis shows that the cross of Christ is our only source of power to endure. Bless those promises!
There are times and places, however, that our consolation comes not from the promises of God but solely in the harmonious action of brother with brother.
1 * superfine threads * very strong * flexible * only slightly elastic * occurs in bundles * and its color is white.
2 a cord or sheet of connective tissue by which two or more bones are bound together at a joint.
3 Matthew 18:23-35
4 Brass is also yellow. But since it is a product of man’s creation and not God’s, it represents those things happening in man’s realm, not God’s.
5 The newborn skeleton is almost entirely cartilage, the tissue that completely lacks a vascular network.
6 Matthew 18:1-3
7 MB 65
8 Leviticus 3:9 (a discussion about a peace offering made to the LORD.)
9 Exodus 29, Numbers 19, Malachi 2
10 John 19:23-24