I hyper-extended my left knee playing pickup basketball 21 years ago. At that time it was the worst pain I’d ever experienced. (I have since had a kidney stone, and let me tell you: I’ll take the knee.) One moment I was guarding my man, and in the next, somehow he was jumping into my left leg. I heard a loud crack, followed by an intense pain that sent me crumbling to the concrete. I thought I’d broken a bone. Couldn’t walk for a couple of days. It was stiff for a few weeks. I was young and stupid, so I didn’t see a doctor.
Some time went by, and it didn’t bother me too much over the next few years. But I also exercised less and less. Ten years ago I got serious about losing weight and managed to shave off 50 pounds. The running was on a treadmill, so it wasn’t as high-impact, but my left knee often ached more than I liked.
Two years ago I was running and re-injured it. Went to a doctor. They did a scan. Told me to wear a brace.
I hate my left knee.
I turn 42 this year, but my left knee is 84. I know when rain is coming, because it starts to throb. It’s scary how real a phenomenon that is. When I fly, I always pick an aisle seat on the right side of the plane, so I can stretch my left leg out. My left knee starts hurting when I can’t extend it after a while.
My left knee disobeys my youthful ambitions to thoughtlessly play again. It mournfully reminds me whenever I momentarily forget—jumping rope with the little girls in Honduras, crouching down again and again to examine lower bookshelves at Barnes & Noble, sleeping on it the wrong way—”Hey, man: you’re broken.”
My left knee is why I can’t play basketball with any real zeal any more. My left knee is why I walk every evening instead of run. My left knee is a constant, moaning reminder that I am getting old and falling apart. My left knee sends out a regular signal in Morse code that death is creeping up on me.
My left knee is a reminder that I am groaning for redemption. I am slowly wasting away, giving way to the real me, the one made in the likeness of my Redeemer, strong knees and all. And on that day I finally see his face, my knee won’t hurt any more. And I won’t care any more, or think about it to care. I’ll run tirelessly, leap fearlessly, even school you on the basketball court.
Until then, though, my left knee is a reminder that death is coming, but also that, charmingly enough, so is an eternal lease on life.
One day this knee will bow before its Maker. And all will be well.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
— 2 Corinthians 4:16