Earlier this year, my husband had rotator cuff surgery on his shoulder, and we were both newly amazed and impressed with the intricate workings of the human body. The well-known verses in Psalm 139 puts it: “You made me in an amazing and wonderful way. . . . You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed.”
That’s amazing synchronization of bones, muscles, tendons, nerves, and a brain that lets you tell the fingers, okay, I’m going to ball you up in a fist now.
As you are reading this online or in the newspaper, pause and look at your hand. Rotate it back and forth on your wrist, if you are able. Open and shut your fingers. Pull them up in a fist.
That’s amazing synchronization of bones, muscles, tendons, nerves, and a brain that lets you tell the fingers, okay, I’m going to ball you up in a fist now. And most of these functions go on all day long without so much as us giving a conscious thought to them.
Except when we’ve had surgery or an injury or a condition you were born with that gets in the way. Speaking of the shoulder, you wouldn’t think you would need your shoulder to help tie your shoes, right? You’ve been tying shoes since you were roughly five years old? But being able to stretch out your arm far enough to reach your feet—especially if you don’t have the flexibility anymore to sit on the floor or draw your leg up to your chest or chin—takes stretching. You have to be able to reach your foot, and then have the strength in your arm, hand muscles, and fingers to make the two-sided bow and pull it tight. Maybe it’s time to bring back the old Velcro-closed tennis shoes!
If I knew more about the brain, we would also explore here that amazing and hidden organ and look at what parts of our body the various areas control—again, all without our sending thought-out messages. Or think of the skin—and this is an organ of the body we do see all the time that is our first line of defense in disease and protection. As we age, the skin becomes thinner (even if literally, most of us grow thicker emotional skin, thank God, than we had when we were three). As I removed the bandage two days after my husband’s outpatient surgery, one piece of tape pulled skin off with it. Add insult to surgery! So we had that wound to also nurse and protect from infection. I frankly had no idea my husband’s skin had thinned that much on his back.
How good it is for humans to live together and try to take care of each other, as I’ve learned in my recent role. If my husband was living by himself—as so many people do, especially later in life, he would have had to have someone come in, at least for a few days, to help him with bandaging, shoe tying, and other necessities. A willing neighbor or family member would do—it doesn’t take any real skills other than patience, good hygiene practices, and time.
As we ponder the wonders of the human body (reproduction, memory, sight, hearing, heart, blood, the intricacies of foot design and locomotion), my mind also moves beyond my body to the larger world. Think of how things grow in the garden, photosynthesis, the air and water we take in to keep our bodies working, the sun, planets, and solar system, the universe. Think of relationships, love, sorrow, our emotional worlds, and how they tie into the physical.
Did it all just happen? Or is there a God who planned for all this wonderfully intricate synchronicity? Job, in the Bible, says poetically, “You [God] dressed me with skin and flesh; you sewed me together with bones and muscles.” There are those with intellects far greater than mine who believe that God—and we’re speaking here of God in the most cosmic sense, far greater than what any human mind can imagine—did have a role in developing human beings and the larger world. Frankly, I think it takes more faith to believe that things just happened than to believe there is a God behind it all.
That’s my take. What’s yours?
If you have comments, send to me at MelodieD@MennoMedia.org or Another Way, 1251 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802. Or, for information on a related women’s Bible study book called Wonderfully Made, visit www.MennoMedia.org.