This morning I drove to Little Rock for my 6-week checkup after my back surgery. Just yesterday, I felt better than I had felt in over a year. My surgery was a success! But as I drove, I kept shifting to relieve the pain in my lower back.
Last night, I worked in the garden and picked blueberries. Still following doctor’s orders, I did not bend; I squatted. For an hour or more my knees flexed, my back stiffened, while I picked two quarts full. As I returned to standing, my lower back muscles began to cry out.
What in the world did I do? All night I tossed and turned in pain. At the first light of dawn, I popped two ibuprofen, hoping and believing I had just strained my muscles from squatting for an hour.
I really don’t believe I’ve done any damage. Still, I found myself going to the same coping positions I had come to rely on for the year of my back pain. Lying on my stomach, walking crookedly, resting for long stretches. Hopefully, this is just a setback that a few days will cure.
I felt like my heart was healed, or at least getting there. Finally breaking free from my need of others’ approval, working toward overcoming my fear of rejection, finally resting in God’s approval alone.
I began running again, living my life for God, untethered. Great things were happening! But then, out of nowhere, I hit a few roadblocks, and bam! I felt myself spinning into familiar anxiety and pain.
I began to resort to my normal comfort methods – you know the kind. The ones that give you an illusion of comfort but don’t truly help.
I desperately sought God, but no sooner than an hour or two after my time with Him – which always lifted me up – I seemed to sink again either in anxiety or sin. I can’t sugarcoat it. I found myself praying,
“God, I don’t know how in the world you could use me in my broken state.”
“No matter how great my intentions are to serve you, the enemy knows just what to do to trip me up. I’m a failure waiting to happen.”
“You say you’ve given me everything I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), but why can’t I seem to tap into it? Godliness seems an impossibility for me.”
In the midst of my crying out to God, I felt him whispering, “Have I ever left you stay here?” (Meaning, my despair.) “No, you’ve always rescued me,” I replied. Hope.
But honestly, why does it have to be so hard? Why can’t healing come once and for all?
Maybe, oddly enough, my answer is in my back pain. I WAS healed. I AM healed. I just encountered a setback. And it wasn’t doing anything I wasn’t supposed to do. It just happened in my normal living. And as long as I live with a flawed body, it may continue to happen the rest of my life.
Maybe, I AM healed from my need of approval and my fear of rejection, in some way. I’ve just encountered a setback. A setback that reminds me that I am not immune to heart relapse. In many ways, this setback showed me ways I may have gotten a little lazy and less alert in the areas the enemy may seek to oppress me. It reminded me that while I am healed, I haven’t fully embraced being satisfied in Christ ALONE. It also reminded me that as long as I live in this flawed body, there’s always going to be a war going on in my spirit.
Oh how I long for heaven, to be set free from this body of death (Romans 7:24), in more ways than one.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25a)