It’s a term I had heard plenty of times before, especially since my wife has been working for a podiatrist for the past 25 years.  When she first started working there, she would tell me about all the people who were coming in with “heel pain.”  My initial reaction was always, “How bad could that be?”  Then she started using the actual medical term for it.  I’ve heard it pronounced many different ways, but it’s spelled p-l-a-n-t-a-r  f-a-s-c-i-i-t-i-s  plantar fasciitis; and it should sound like this: planter fashee-itis.  I will say that does sound a lot scarier than “heel pain,” but I still thought, “How bad could it really be?”  I guess God wanted me to find out so I can better sympathize with the many who have it or have had it, so a little over a month ago I found out just how bad it could be when I actually quit in the middle of a basketball game because I thought I had bruised my heel.  When I told my podiatric-savvy wife about it, she confidently proclaimed that I had plantar fasciitis. I contended that I didn’t, that I just had a bone bruise.  But after a week or so of seeing no sign of improvement, I made an appointment with Dr. Nolen, the podiatrist Marilyn works for.  And sure enough he confirmed her diagnosis which was bad enough, but things got a whole lot worse when I asked him how long it would take to get over it so I could resume playing basketball.  He said it would take some time.  When I asked how much time, I felt like he dropped a bomb on me when he said it could take 6 months to a year.  I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of not being able to run up and down a basketball court for that long of a time while looking forward to the day when I can say what Michael Jordan said when he came out of retirement and proclaimed “I’M BACK!”

So prayers for your pastor would be greatly appreciated.  I feel kind of guilty even making that request because I know there are a lot of people who are much worse off than I am.  But then again, I will admit that I am a real wimp when it comes to pain, especially the kind of pain plantar fasciitis can produce.

So that’s the bad news, but there is some good news that is going to come out of this.  And that is this newsletter article. You see, this physical condition that I’m dealing with got me to thinking about a spiritual condition that is much, much worse.  And I’ll bet you know what that spiritual condition is. That’s right.  It’s sin.

So let me use the rest of this article to do a little comparison between plantar fasciitis and sin, starting with this point:

  • Both are painful. I’ve already talked about the pain that plantar fasciitis causes, but that’s nothing compared to the pain that sin can bring into our lives.  Sin bruises relationships between husband and wife, between parents and children, between friends and co-workers.  A night of drinking too much can result in a painful hangover or land you in jail or put a scar on your reputation or worse yet, lead to an accident that could harm, maim, or even kill another person.  The sin of gossip can do major damage to yours or another person’s reputation.  And on and on it goes.
  • Both are common. I’ve been amazed at how many people have told me that they’ve either had or currently have plantar fasciitis.  It is definitely a pervasive health condition, especially for people who spend a lot of time on their feet.  As common as it is, however, it doesn’t come close to the universal problem of sin for Romans 3:23 says: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 
  • Both are stubborn and persistent. I can’t ever recall having a health problem that had the potential to keep me off the basketball court for up to a year.  The closest I ever got to that was when I sprained my ankle playing basketball some years ago.  I think then I was out of commission for close to 6 months.  And yet, as stubborn and persistent as plantar fasciitis can be, it doesn’t even come close to comparing to sin.  Everyone I talk to who has had plantar fasciitis has gotten over it for the most part and they are doing fine today.  Sin, however, is a condition that adheres to us until the day we die.  In fact, it infects us the moment we are conceived.  Like David says in Psalm 51:5: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”  So any hope of getting better in 6 months to a year and finding yourself completely free of the disease of sin just isn’t there.  Put simply, it ain’t gonna happen.
  • Both are unpredictable. Not all my days with plantar fasciitis are bad.  The pain kind of comes and goes, and on some days it goes or stays away more than it comes.  The same holds true with sin.  There are days when we pillow our heads at night and think, “I was a pretty decent Christian today.  I visited that elderly lady in the nursing home.  I read books and played games with my children.  I did my morning devotions and spent more time in prayer than I normally do.”  Why, we can practically feel the angels patting us on the back with their feathery wings!  But then there are other days when we go to bed guilt-ridden and burdened by our sins.  As we reflect upon the day, we recall the outburst of anger we had during that argument with our spouse; the selfish decision to watch the football game and not help with supper; the ignoring of the kids when they were vying for our attention; and lastly, caving into the temptation to view that pornography on the Internet before turning in for the night.  Which takes me to my final point:
  • Both have a treatment. Actually plantar fasciitis has a number of treatments, none of which result in immediate healing: cortisone shots; air cast; certain vitamins; special shoes; insoles and orthotics; a brace to wear at night; stretching exercises; ice; and, as a last resort, surgery. Sin, on the other hand, has only one treatment, one cure, and thankfully it is immediate and complete from God’s perspective.  You know what it is, don’t you?  I’m talking about the cross of Christ.  Like the hymn of old says:  “Would you be free from the burden of sin?  There’s power in the blood, power in the blood.  Would you o’er evil a victory win?  There’s wonderful power in the blood.”  Or how about John’s words in the 1st chapter of his 1st epistle, verse 7 where it says: “The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin.”

As we enter the season of Lent this month, may we all experience in a new and fresh way the cleansing, the purifying, the healing power that flows from that old rugged cross giving us hope and victory over the painful, common, stubborn, and unpredictable condition known as sin.

A blessed and meaningful Lent to all of you,