“Why is she swinging with just one arm? What’s wrong with her other arm?”
A nurse friend of mine was enjoying her lunch break with me at the park. I suspected something wasn’t quite right with my daughter’s arm, but I thought it just needed a little time to heal. I was focused on my three-month-old baby and took her injury in stride.
“How long has this been going on?” she persisted.
“Oh, she slipped getting into bed a couple of nights ago and fell on her shoulder. It was only a short fall, maybe a foot or two, and the floor is carpeted. I didn’t give it any more thought. Come to think of it, she’s not using that arm when she rides her trike either.”
“That does it! Bring her into the office right now so we can get an x-ray!”
Sure enough, an hour later the doctor showed me the tiny, hairline fracture in my daughter’s collarbone. Eight weeks in a brace would allow the bone to heal without any further pain. Of course by now I felt like the worst mother on the planet!
Broken bones are no joke. They can mean the end of an active life, a permanent detour away from everything we’ve enjoyed. And even though we may say unkind words won’t “break our bones” we will carry that hurt for days and even years.
Bones were a natural part of the dinner hour when I was growing up. My father, an avid fisherman, always warned us to watch for bones. The big ones were easy to spot, but I hated picking through the fish for the small ones that my dad assured us we could just chew up. I wasn’t introduced to fileted fish until I was in college. What a treat!
Eating out when bones were a part of the cuisine was also cause for embarrassment. Even at really nice restaurants Dad insisted on collecting all of the leftover steak bones to take home to the dog. His love for his dogs always won out over our pleas for a bit of decorum.
There are all kinds of bones sprinkled through the English language. If someone is skin and bones or a bag of bones, their gaunt appearance takes our breath away. Call someone a lazy bones if she won’t get busy with her work. I have yet to laugh when I’ve hit my funny bone. And the image of people working their fingers to the bone makes me wince, especially when some jobs can literally produce that result.
We can bone up on our facts right before a test. Sometimes we can’t put our finger on what we think might happen, but we feel it in our bones. And “like a dog with a bone” we can’t stop thinking about it.
Drought conditions bring up the “bone dry” comments, and I know those who face a tough winter will often be "chilled to the bone."
We may have a chance to defend ourselves if someone has a bone to pick with us, but if it’s an ongoing bone of contention, we may never win him or her over.
During those lean years, it was often necessary to cut our household expenses to the bone. Even today when we’re traveling and just need a clean bed to sleep in, we don’t mind if the motel provides bare-bones accommodations.
My favorite “bone” comment is hearing about an especially kind person: “He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body!” What a wonderful friend to have, someone you can trust with your heart.
The Old Testament is full of bones. There’s the familiar story of the dry bones that miraculously rose up and gained flesh, a foretaste of our own resurrection from the dead (Ez. 37).
But it is the emotional references I identify most with. When Job talks about his sleepless nights when his very bones shook with fear and trembling (Job 4:13-15) I too remember those nights when I feared the coming morning and what I would be facing.
The cries from the Psalmist remind me of my guilty conscience that I try to ignore: “My bones are in agony” (Psalm 6:2) and “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3). Even envy will “rot my bones” (Prov. 14:30).
But there is another side, the upside: When I look to the Lord and His wisdom, my bones will be nourished (Prov. 3:8). Gracious words and good news will bring them health and healing (Prov. 15:30, 16:24).
And what good news can possibly measure up to the message of grace? No matter what the condition of my bones… my soul… the Lord promises to bring me health. Oh maybe not always physically, but in the end, deep inside the marrow of my bones, I know what really needs healing.
And I know the One who brings me that cure. He’s the One whom the Psalmist foretold would hang on a cross until all of His bones were out of joint (22:14). He’s the One who suffered for all of my guilt and sins.
My Lord Jesus is the One who assures me that no matter how much I disappoint Him and keep asking for His mercy, He will preserve me and my soul.