When I was fifteen I broke a small bone in my left hand and had to have it put in a stint that was tightly taped. The problem was that I was only six weeks from starting basketball practice, and to make matters worse, I am left-handed. I was not ambidextrous in any way, but fully, dominantly, left handed. As such, I had always dribbled and shot with only my left hand (just as I always wrote, ate and brushed my teeth with my left hand). I wanted to play so badly that I went to the gym only able to use my right hand.
Every day, all by myself, I practiced dribbling. It was pretty awful at first. I bounced the ball off my foot several times and struggled to get the right rhythm. I dribbled it either too hard or too soft and was unable to maneuver well because I couldn’t control the ball as easily, as naturally as I could with my left hand. Each day I practiced dribbling in and out of orange cones, going back and forth, fast and slow, left and right. I probably dribbled the ball five thousand times with my right hand, something I had never done before.
Five weeks later the x-rays showed the bone had healed in my left hand, and I was cleared to play again using both hands. A week later practice started. At the end of practice we had a scrimmage. All of my teammates knew I was dominantly left handed and thus always dribbled to my left, which they cut off by standing to my left. On the first play I caught the ball, faked left and took off to my right, dribbling with my right hand, and shot a jump shot that swished in. Just then the coach blew his whistle. “Smith,” he yelled, “come here.” I did, and then he said to me privately, “When did you learn to go to your right?” I said, “Well, I broke my left hand a month ago and so for the last thirty days I have been using only my right hand when I practice. Now I guess I can use either hand.
Just as I trained my right hand to do something it had not done, so we can train our bodily members to behave as Christ-followers should behave. We can train our eyes to see beauty and to turn away from lust. We can train our tongues to tell the truth, to bless others with our words and to refrain from speaking ill of others. We can train our hands to serve others. We can train our feet to go to the least and the lost. Our bodies will not naturally be inclined this way, just as my right hand dribbled the ball off my foot for the first few weeks. But eventually it began to control the ball even without my conscious effort. That is what we are aiming for: doing the right things over and over, under the leading of the Spirit, until our bodies naturally do what is right.
So I encourage you today to give thanks for your body. It is good. Then I would encourage you to think of the ways in which your body has been trained under the ideas and ideals of the kingdom of this world, and prayerfully consider how it can be retrained to be your ally in your walk in the Spirit.