- Jane Wheeler
Hamstrung: (in arcaic English called hough)
1: to make ineffective or powerless : cripple
2: to cripple by cutting the leg tendons (Miriam Webster Definition)
So I am in the grocery store in the produce area, sometimes the buggy feels large as you maneuver between the nicely stacked rows of oranges or apples. I walk around the buggy to the front and pull it behind me to ensure I do not hit the fruit and it happens….I smash my heel with the buggy. Hurt like a son of a gun!
Truly, it felt like I ripped the skin off my ankle. I check it out and see nothing, not even red, annoyed at myself, I keep on shopping; now limping as well.
When I get home, my heel is sore and I am limping but still the outside shows nothing. An hour later I am on the computer typing when I first feel the burning sensation in my ankle. I look down and still see nothing, but the burning is intense. I wonder what is up in my ankle. About a half hour later I look down and see the telltale signs of bleeding as a nice greenish/blue color is now covering my ankle. I grab a bag of frozen peas and park my ankle on it for about a half hour. The ankle is now a lovely technicolor creation and swollen up.
I have a pronounced limp by now, the pain is severe. The whole process has left me wondering what I did to my ankle. The next day in my sandal because there is no way I can put a shoe on, I am driving and ask God about my ankle. The word that pops into my head immediately is “Hamstrung”. I argue that only horses get Hamstrung, but the word stays right there. After lunch I stopped in at a friend’s house and she notices my hobbling, I tell her I ran over myself with a shopping buggy. Just before I am headed out the door, she says, “God is telling me to do something.” She runs upstairs.
She came down with a bottle of something and asks if I would be okay if she rubbed my sore foot. I told her it was pretty sore, so I am unsure, she assures me she will be gentle. She puts some stuff from the bottle on her hand and proceeds to carefully rub it all over my swollen ankle and foot. It was such a tender act, like she was Biblically “washing my feet”.
I ask her what it is she is rubbing on my ankle, it has a minty smell and is warming on my skin slightly, quite pleasant. She says without missing a beat, “horse liniment.”
I almost swallowed my spit wrong and start to sputter but managed to cough out, “What?”
She holds up the bottle to me and shows me, Veterinary Horse Liniment. She proceeds to tell me she uses it all the time on her back.
I incredulously ask her if God told her I was hamstrung? She has no idea what I am talking about. I laugh and think to myself, God has such a sense of humor and I giggled all the way home over the horse liniment and hamstrung. I have no idea what He is up to and I ask God to unpack the whole meaning behind this Hamstringing and it takes a few days, but eventually His method becomes clearer.
The first time I ever heard about hamstringing was in the Bible. In the Old Testament God told the Israelite's to fight against their enemies by hamstringing the horses, rendering them lame. (Joshua 11:6, 2 Samuel 8:4, 1 Chronicles 18:4)
The army would sneak up on the horses, cut tendons and sneak away, leaving their enemies with lame horses and rendering their chariots useless as well, a very effective way to cripple the enemy.
It seems that hamstringing was not just for horses in the ancient world it was not unusual to hamstring people, enemies and prisoners to prevent them from running.
For my animal lover readers this may seem inhumane, however the commandment that God gave the Israelites was to totally annihilate anything that had breathe in the new land they were going to take over. War is inhumane - on people and animals. (Deuteronomy 20:16-18)
I was over at another friend’s house when it hit me with the revelation of the hamstringing.
I had had a pretty rough couple of weeks prior to this Hamstringing incident. Have you ever been in a place where the world is tumbling down around you and swirling so fast you have no idea where it is even safe to walk. I was there. I felt like I was in the eye of the hurricane and I did not know how to proceed, to step in any direction was to step into the direct path of the hurricane itself. It was at that time, in that moment God said I was hamstrung.
I felt like that was the silliest time to get hamstrung, with the winds threatening me on every side, I needed to the ability to run, to get away from the storm. God said no, it was at this precise time, the safest place to be was to drop to my knees and let Him carry the battle that totally engulfed me. I tend to “do” and try to fix things and I got hamstrung.
So I sit, totally still because I am hamstrung, on my knees, arms up and praying to the One who can fix things, because honestly I cannot do anything about the storms surrounding me. I can fix nothing.
I marvel over God’s ways and I now get that even though I am injured, truly this is the safest place to be.