God’s Providence and My "Trick knee"

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6


Hello Calvary,

I’ve just finished raking the edge of the roof on our unusually tall two-story building here at 43 Mill Street. I’m sure, like me, many of you spent a significant amount of time yesterday digging out of your driveways. Two sheer pins later I’m grateful to be sitting in my office (if you don’t know what a sheer pin is ask someone who has a snowblower). The sun is out, the ice dams are melting and I wonder what the next week has in store. Some weeks are pretty predictable. Some aren’t. Some Sunday afternoons are predictable. Others aren’t. This past Sunday afternoon was one of the unpredictable ones for me; for four hours I couldn’t walk.

I was home waiting for a guy named Patrick, who was driving down from Lancaster NH to buy my truck. The snow had already started to come down pretty good, so I was out in the driveway just kind of putz’n around with my snow shovel while I kept a look out for the buyer. So far, so good. Nothing unusual here. Then, one insignificant turn on my feet and there it went - my trick knee. You’ve heard of a thorn in the side, well I have loose cartilage in my knee. They both have a similar aggravation. Usually, that is. Usually when that happens I simply relax my leg, straighten it out slowly and “click” the cartilage goes back into place, and I go on with whatever I was doing. It’s happened so many times that I’ve lost track but on three occasions in the last seven years the relaxing and straightening didn’t work. Sunday was one of those times, and when it doesn’t go back in place, I can’t walk. The pain of putting even the slightest bit of pressure on that leg, or even straightening it out more than half way becomes excruciating, like an 8 out of 10. So I did the only reasonable thing. I hopped. You’re welcome for the visual. Yep, there I was, hopping down my driveway and into my house so that I could sit down and make a phone call.

No, I didn’t call 911. This wasn’t that kind of emergency. When I sat down, bent my knee and relaxed, there was almost no pain at all. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to call Brendan Davey. Now, you might be wondering at this point, where is Kari? That’s a good question. She was around the corner at her parent’s house enjoying a nice afternoon by the fire with her mom. She had no idea what was going on and I wasn’t about to tell her. Not yet. You see, this same thing happened last fall at the Men’s Fallout while we were playing softball. I was on my way to first base, and click, there it went; once again, relax, straighten, no luck. I sat down on a camping chair along the 1st base line and Brendan came over to see if he could help. I explained to him what was going on and he asked if he could try something. “Sure,” I said or something to that affect. He proceeded to lift my leg and twist my foot while pulling on it. Click. It went back in place. It was a little sore for a day or two, but fully functional and I had no problem walking. Now, fast-forward six months to Sunday and you understand why I immediately called Brendan. If he could come over really quick and work his magic, I could save my lovely bride the unneeded stress brought on by the memories of what happened the first time my knee did this.

The first time my knee “clicked out” and didn’t go back in, I was playing basketball at lunch time with a few guys at Calvary Albuquerque. My friend, Mike, who is a chiropractor tried to fix itbut no luck. I have to say, too, it was much worse that first time, prior to surgery. It was painful all the time and five days later I was having emergency knee surgery. Here’s the crazy part - this all took place within a week after our youngest son, Tait, was born. When we addthat it wasn’t just a little arthroscopic snip, snip, but an ACL reconstructionand you might start to get the picture of what Kari would experience when I tell her that my knee is locked up again.

Back to Sunday, Patrick (the guy buying my truck) was delayed by the snow. He was supposed to get here by 3:00pm, it was now almost 4:00pm and he was still an hour out. I had texted Brendan at this point and after a few minutes he responded that he’d be over as soon as he could. He had company over and I was fine just sitting there. So I waited. My daughter, Lis, kept me company. She told me, among other things, how much trouble I was going to be in when mom finds out that I didn’t tell her right away. I laughed nervously, then I began to wonder why this happened. Why today?

As I sat, waiting for Patrick and Brendan, I had opportunity for thought and for prayer. My mind was taken back to the last conversation I had with Patrick a few days before. I asked him where he was driving from to see the truck. He said Lancaster. Lancaster! I remember thinking, that’s the area that I’ve been praying about Calvary Wolfeboro doing an outreach this summer. That’s the North Country! In that same conversation he also mentioned something that led me to believe he was a police officer. How perfect, I thought, What if Brendan could meet this guy with me; since both of them are in law enforcement, I’m sure they would immediately connect and we could talk about the summer. Who knows what could come out of it!

Those were my thoughts. This is what actually happened. Brendan showed up at my house twenty minutes before Patrick. He tried, unsuccessfully, to fix my knee for a few minutes and then Patrick was there. Just like I had imagined, they immediately connected. They had mutual acquaintances that went way back and Brendan was able to give him directions on the best way to return to Lancaster in the snow storm. It was really cool.  The best part, however, was that I told Patrick about our idea for the summer. I asked him if he could help connect us with the right people to get permits, etc. As it turned out Patrick knows the town manager well and said he would be glad to help. Wow! Only God knows the end of that story. I have a suspicion that we’ll be seeing Patrick this August in Lancaster under the big top. Start praying.

Well, Patrick loaded my truck on his flatbed Sunday evening about 5:30pm and drove off. By that point Kari was home and she was concerned, to say the least. As I mentioned already, the last time my knee went out and wouldn’t go back in, it meant surgery. No wife likes the thought of her husband having surgery. I decided it wasn’t time to give up yet on getting that pesky little piece of cartilage back where it belonged. So, while Brendan, Cris Seeley (my brother in law who had been there for about ten minutes) and Kari were talking, I laid down on the floor in front of them and very awkwardly began extending my leg while pressing the end of my foot down against the ground. I had never tried this before, but it worked. Just like that, “click,” and I jumped up right in front of them allproclaiming, “It’s back in!” Then, through a mixture of shock, laughter, and tears of joy (Kari), we thanked the Lord and began marveling at the events of the afternoon.

When all was said and done, I couldn’t help but think that God accomplished some amazing things during and surrounding the four hoursmy knee was “out” on Sunday. How important was it that Brendan was there? Only God knows fully. Yet, although I could have suggested that Brendan come and meet him, I didn’t. It didn’t seem right for a Sunday afternoon before his homegroup; until the knee happened and I asked him to come over for a completely unrelated reason. The irony is that Brendan wasn’t able to fix my knee this time. God had a different purpose for him that day. His name was Patrick.

Nothing is beyond His reach. No circumstance is outside the realm of His providence. And if we’re paying attention, we will see Him do amazing things through the mundane and even through the painful.

For His Glory,

Pastor Justin