A couple of months ago I was driving my wife to a community college where she was taking an online class, and had to take a be on campus for a test. It was a two hour drive. One that I have made before to visit family in the area and so on. The difference this time was that although I got into the car feeling fine, I stepped out onto the campus with what felt like a severe cramp in my lower back. I stretched a bit and went on with things.
My back pain only got worse, to the point where I could barely move, sit, or stand without at least some discomfort, and usually a fair bit of pain. It got to the point where I knew I needed help, because I was not getting any better, and it was severely effecting my life. My help came in the form of a friend, who happens to be a Physical Therapist, sending me information on stretches to do. I began immediately, as I needed some relief. To my surprise they often caused more pain and discomfort, and left me tried and sore.
I continued my stretches only because I trusted that they would help. It took a while, but I began to feel some relief. As I continued to do my stretches my body loosened up, and the pain began to go away. I got to a point where I had no pain at all. I stopped my stretches. I figured that I didn’t need them anymore. I began to feel more and more pain, but it has not gotten near as bad as it had been, so I have yet to do my stretches. Many of my family and friends have encouraged me to do them, but that takes effort. Now that you as you read this are also likely thinking or maybe even telling me to do my stretches, rest assured that I will begin them again today, but only because it has, once again, become a hindrance to my normal living.
Our spiritual lives are the same as the situation with my back. So often we neglect to read our Bibles, make time for Prayer, and other spiritual stretches that “take effort” and take time. We assume we can get through today without them, and we can go back to them when we notice that our lack of spiritual stretching is hindering our daily lives. God doesn’t seem as near as He once did. We don’t have the peace we once had. We find ourselves thinking and saying things that we know to be out of character for us. We find that it is time to begin our stretches again.
I began reading a book recently by a friend of mine that speaks to the problem at the heart of both of these situations, impatience. The truth is that I have been too impatient to take the time, and put in the effort to do my stretches for my back. The same is true with spiritual stretches. Both of these things take discipline and patience, and to be honest I find it to be the case in many areas with many people, myself included, that we simply don’t have patience or discipline unless it is absolutely necessary, and sometimes not even then. The great thing about it all is that, just as I am soon to re-begin my stretches, we can just pick up our spiritual stretches, and if we learn from our painful lack of stretching, perhaps we can keep on track this time.
Until next time, may God help you to stay spiritually fit.