Last week I had some dental work done. With each day after, I had more soreness in my neck and lower into my back. It’s not unusual. The left side of my neck was affected after a car accident almost 40 years ago. I often get muscle spasms. No, I’m not going to go on and on about my personal physical ailments.
But I learned something. As my neck pain and back got worse instead of better, I got desperate and called my daughter. She is a physical therapist. I asked if she could rub out some of the discomfort. She was able to come over last evening. But her way of solving the problem was not the same as I thought it would be.
When she arrived, she said, “I’m not going to massage your back. Massaging won’t get to the root of your problem. I need to assess you to find out what your problem is.” She went on to tell me that often something like dental work, sitting with my mouth open or some other minor injury, can throw off the delicate balance of the neck and back leading to upper back pain even thought the problem is in your neck…or vice versa!
So she assessed the areas of pain and the areas of health
Of course, the setting in the home isn’t ideal. Those beds in the therapy office are much better. But she pushed on spots, had me resist back and got me feeling much more comfortable. As she said, she got to the root of the problem. She also gave me a few exercises to do to strengthen some weak areas.
Not surprisingly, this morning I am sore on the opposite side. It’s not to the degree I was sore before. I’m pretty sure that is a good thing because I’m getting more balanced out.
But it reminded me of something that is easy to forget.
All of us, as humans are connected
We are all connected. It makes no difference who we are. We are connected at a very basic level as a family: husband, wife, maybe children. Then we spread out to extended family, then neighbors and into our community. To the degree that our community is healthy, we do well. But if we only stay in the healthy part of our community (or with those we perceive as healthy) and don’t relate to those in the areas where there is real struggle, it affects our part of the community. We may not realize the ways it affects us, but it does. It quietly affects us as we go about our business with blinders on to the pain of those around us.
Of course, our churches are also part of our community as well as a small community themselves. We don’t do ourselves any favors to totally stay within our church walls. The church is there to teach and prepare us for ministry. It’s true we minister to one another as well, but if our churches are not reaching out into the community they are a part of, they are failing themselves, their members and their community.
Remember that group of religious leaders in Jesus’ day who were more concerned about looking good than about dealing with injustice, being merciful and being congruent with who they seemed to be?
Do you remember the religious group in Jesus’ day who were out of touch with common people? They were more concerned with keeping religious rules rather than caring for people or dealing with injustice. His words to them were rather blunt and unkind!
I'm not going to massage your back. Massaging won't get to the root of your problem. I need to assess you to find out what your problem is.-physical therapist Holly Welch Click To Tweet
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Matthew 23:23-28 ESV
Do we really think our living in denial toward those in pain, injustice and poverty is helping us stay healthy? In truth it handicaps us in ways only we don’t see. It weakens our vision to be alert to injustice, it shrivels the use of one or both of our arms or hands to be able to help in useful ways, it weakens our legs because we aren’t using them to go to help those who need it.
GOD hasn’t called us to do everything. But He has called us to be connected over the course of our lifetime. He wants us to be alert, caring, aware, active, loving in healthy ways. I don’t know what He is calling you to do. You don’t know what He is calling me to do. But we need to be aware of our connection with everyone in our community.
- Do they understand our language?
- Can they care for their children?
- Are they able to read?
- Do they have food to eat?
We have all been made aware of our own weakness in the past few months. In some ways, we have been put on a more level playing field…only in some ways. For those of us who have been able to plan our lives out up to now, it has been traumatic. Maybe this is a time for us to open our eyes to those we are connected to those who don’t have control over so many of the basics in their lives.
We find we must trust Someone outside ourselves just like I had to for my neck issues.
The solutions may not lie where we think they are. Just as I had to trust someone who had more training and experience than I do in regard to the interaction of muscles, bones and nerves, so we need to trust the One who knows how all these things fit together in our family, culture and world. Only GOD knows the future. Only He knows the challenges ahead. Frankly, I’m glad. I don’t want to know what is coming.
Prayer is a great place to connect with GOD. It is where we relate to Him and He to us. But His Word is also woven into that time.
A good starting place is prayer of course. We need to ask GOD to change us in the ways and places where we need to change so we will know how and where to work in the places where He needs us. He will show us. He will guide us. They may seem very small. Maybe what He wants of us now is for us to concentrate on our family. We can till reach out too. But we may be living in the mundane years. The starting place may seem very big and will cause us to depend on Him because we are so afraid of what He is asking us to do. Either way, we just have to take a step in the direction He leads us. He will do the rest.
And remember, we are all connected…intimately! For those of us who are in Christ, we are connected to Him. We are connected to His church, to our families and to our community. Where does GOD want us to fit into that connection?