Wholeness on the Horizon


It is what it is?

I hurt my back again. It makes me really weak and ineffectual in many tasks. It got me thinking about my moral weakness.

My injured back is a good chance to recognize the fact of back injuries, to acknowledge my weakness, finitude, and need. It’s not an occasion to begin to make peace with pain in such a way that I embrace and advocate for back injuries. That would be perverse, against human flourishing.

My moral brokenness is a reality to mourn and reconcile in God’s merciful solution and (coming) resolution. It is not an aspiration, or an identity feature to be embraced.

A crooked line is seen as such by the existence of a straight one. A bad map doesn’t mean there are no destinations. We are going somewhere. And, while “God draws straight lines with crooked sticks,” he is remaking us into the image of his son. A holy poem.

We are bent and broken, but remade to be whole in God.

Our weaknesses in every way are a call to imagine the wholeness we are being recreated for.

In our weakness, let’s keep our eyes on the horizon, turning bent backs to the darkness. There we’ll see the sun rising on a New World and will all stand tall in that light.


  1. Bailey

    Thank you for your always down-to-earth methods of pointing us to eternity (I guess that’s always what God does, huh?). I appreciate your writing style and your courageous faith. If you ever write a biography on P.G. Wodehouse, be sure and let me know.

  2. Loren Warnemuende

    Concise and powerful. Our world seems to be in he practice of embracing sin these days because, I mean, that’s just the way we are, right? But no, God transforms. There is a straight line. Thanks for this, Sam.

  3. April Pickle

    “My moral brokenness is a reality to mourn and reconcile in God’s merciful solution and (coming) resolution. It is not an aspiration, or an identity feature to be embraced.”
    Good words, Sam. Thanks.

  4. Peter B

    Keep it coming, Sam — and I pray you recover soon.

    Also, I need to read some Wodehouse.

  5. Jaclyn

    “In our weakness, let’s keep our eyes on the horizon, turning bent backs to the darkness. There we’ll see the sun rising on a New World and will all stand tall in that light.”

    Yes, it is what it is… but it is not what it shall be. Thanks, once again, SD!

  6. Andrea

    “And, while God draws straight lines with crooked sticks, he is remaking us into the image of his son.”

    Yes. Thank you. I am both encouraged and challenged by the thoughts you were generous enough to share.

  7. Cathy C

    Wonderful post. I have an unrelated comment for anyone who would like The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis on an e-reader. Today on Amazon, volumes 1 and 3 are 99 cents. Volume 2 is not discounted.

  8. JamesDWitmer

    This is down-home wisdom, Sam. Grub for the soul.

    CS Lewis wrote (somewhere) that by domesticating animals and making them more like us we elevate them, and are reflecting God’s character, as he makes us more like Him.

    It seemed like a stretch to me (and maybe it is), but then I recognized what you’re writing about here: Our culture tells us that we are most ourselves when we embrace our “natural” desires. In other words, they seek to make us more animal.

    But in Christ we transcend the animal state, and, in becoming more like God, become truly human. Completely opposite!

  9. Kris

    “God draws straight lines with crooked sticks”. Yes. This.

    Really solid truth, Sam. Bless you, brother. (And prayers for speedy healing for your back–ouch!)

  10. Brenda Branson

    Great anology Sam! I just love the phrase “God draws straight lines with crooked sticks.” I’m so thankful for that.

  11. S. D. Smith


    Thanks, Kris and Brenda.

    I went back and added “quotes” around that part in the post. I’ve heard lots of people use the expression “God draws straight lines with crooked sticks,” and I thought it was just common knowledge, an excellent cliche. I don’t know who first said it. But I see that it looks like I am making that up on the spot. I meant to play off the phrase. If I ever do write anything that good I’ll probably take out an add in the paper to announce it.

    Anyway, now that I’m a full-time plagiarist, I’ll just turn myself in at the latest office of Oprah Winfrey Inc. and await my trial.

  12. Brenda Branson

    Haha! Sam, we’ll bail you out of jail if need be, but I suspect there would be a lot of us who could be convicted of unintentional plagiarism. Regardless of who said what, your article is awesome.

  13. Scott Richardson

    Great stuff, Sam. I, too, have struggled off and on with back pain. When I’m deep in the throes of it, the temptation to submit to resignation is powerful. “I’ll always be this way … I’ll never feel good again … I’ll never walk or sit or sleep without pain”, run the swirling thoughts in my head.

    I think the danger in the moral realm is to embrace the mantra, “I’m just a sinner … saved by grace”, which can unfortunately become, “I’m just a sinner”. If there’s no hope for freedom, change, repentance, restoration, renewal … then let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow, we die. It’s easier to resign from the battle than to submit to being picked up one more time, fighting back one more time, and to keep soldiering on.

    It’s not about making myself better — or pulling myself up by my own bootstraps. It’s about hanging on tight to my Redeemer, fighting for freedom in my thought life and my actions. It’s recognizing the NOW (my denial of reality doesn’t equate to true holiness), but, at the same time, not letting go of the NOT YET aspects of the kingdom that Jesus continually announced.

    May God bless you with healing for your back, and may he continually bless us all with redemption and restoration in the more thorny issues of our choices, our thought lives, and our actions.

  14. Africa Schaumann

    Thanks for this Sam! And, I know an injured back is not fun – praying for your speedy recovery!

    On the topic of “brokenness”, and the acknowledgement of that brokenness, as I was discussing with a friend recently, it seems very common for us to attempt to ignore and hide the brokenness and weakness that we experience. A person with a sore back may take some meds and go to work anyway, which only works to worsen the broken condition. A person feeling weak or spurned emotionally may repress the feelings, which like with the injured back, only works to worsen the condition of our pained hearts.

    We’re taught that we need to be strong and forge ahead in the performance-based society we live in.We aren’t taught to lean into the pain we feel and allow it to run its course, hanging on to our Savior who raises us from our broken state. By trusting in Him, we are imbued with his Character which is strong, but not prideful, and by acknowledging the pain we inevitably face in our lives we become healed in His Spirit as His children.

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