We tend to race through life. Our society is fast-paced, speeding from idea to idea, fad to fad. Even in our Christian lives, we often like to hurry. We love St. Paul’s image of running the race, of being an athlete of Christ (2 Tim 4:7). It is an image that speaks to our high-velocity lifestyles. But speed can beget impatience—impatience with others who are slower than we, who don’t measure up to our flurry of expectations, and impatience with ourselves, when we don’t turn out to be such pro-athletes of Christ. Invariably we stumble. Other times it seems like we are just limping along.
But limping is better than remaining stagnant. If one is limping toward Christ, he is still moving along the way to the fullness of truth and love. As St. Thomas Aquinas wrote,
Augustine says… “It is better to limp along the way than to walk briskly off the way.” For one who limps along the way, even though he makes just a little progress, is approaching his destination; but if one walks off the way, the faster he goes the further he gets from his destination.
Our progress in the Christian life may seem slow—sometimes pitifully slow—but limping on the way is far better than racing towards destruction. Our direction matters more than our speed.
To limp along the way is better than to race off of it because our way is Christ, as St. Thomas points out. “If, then,” he says, “you are looking for the way by which you should go, take Christ, because he himself is the way.” As Christ Himself told His disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6). Christ is the way that leads to the fullness of truth and abundant life with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Limp along that way and, limp though you may, you are limping aright.
It is good for us to recognize that often we only limp. Having wrestled with God during the night, the Patriarch Jacob “limped along” afterwards (Gen 32:31). The cunning and bold Jacob, the great athlete who strove with the Lord, received a wound that caused him to limp for the rest of his life. With that crippling injury, however, Jacob understood his weakness and dependence on God. He no longer relied on his own strength of mind and body. The Lord had made him as His own possession. Although Jacob limped for the rest of his days, his feet were set on the way of the Lord, the way of truth and life.
When we are strong and successful, the fact of our total dependence on God can easily slip our minds. But when, like Jacob, we limp—when we come up against our brokenness, our sinfulness, our bad habits, our disappointments—then we are faced with our absolute need for God. And God provides for that need. If we share Jacob’s weakness, how much more do we share in the gift of God’s grace. “How much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many” (Rom 5:15). His grace is the crutch that allows us to still limp along the way of truth.
And if we but continue to limp now, then we will one day run with the freedom and strength of the children of God. Even in our weakness now, God is preparing us for that everlasting day of abundant life. For, as the Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). His grace overflows in our weakness to carry our weary limbs and tired hearts to His own loving Heart wherein are found the truth, the love, and the life that we so desire. Having limped along this Way that is Jesus Christ, we crippled pilgrims can hope to “shine and dart about as sparks through stubble” (Wis 3:7). Praise the Lord whose grace allows us to limp along this Way of Truth!
Image: Gustave Dore, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel