I sat there in unbelief…sort of shock really. I mean, the news wasn’t earth-shattering. I hadn’t been handed a death sentence. But it was yet another reminder that I am definitely not in my twenties anymore and that I’m not getting any younger.
Apparently, the pain I’ve been experiencing in my lower back on my left side for almost 4 weeks straight was more than a pulled muscle or a pinched nerve. I was told today that I have arthritis in my lower back and, of all things, a bone spur on my L5 vertebrae. Granted it is MILD arthritis and an almost undetectable bone spur (I could hardly see it on the X-ray). But, it’s there nonetheless. The doctor has no idea why. There’s nothing in how my spine is shaped that would explain why my L5 vertebrae would be under stress, causing the spur, especially at my age. It’s just there. Kind of like my high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. No family history…no none cause. I just have it.
And, while the news didn’t really bother me at first, I must confess that I’m feeling….well…OLD, as I sit here on my heating pad. Old, and a little down. I don’t know why. I mean, this isn’t debilitating….I’m not crippled…..it won’t be my undoing. So why is it such a big deal?
I think it bothers me because it seems to reinforce the lie that the enemy of my soul has whispered into my ear all my 41 years: that I’m weak…that I’m frail…that I don’t have the necessary stuff to be a real man…that I’m an imposer that is intrinsically broken beyond repair.
Now, I’ve come a long way these past 25 years as a Christian. I am learning that I am a son of God. I’m part of His family, not a hired hand. I’m coming to learn who I am and WHOSE I am, and it makes all the difference. The Gospel does change everything. But, days like today seem to lead me down a path of thinking that is amazingly effective in pulling my attention off the Gospel and onto my own shortcomings as a husband, a father, a pastor…as a man. The frustrating thing is that I know better! I know that allowing my thoughts to get the best of me always leads me down the wrong path. That voice whispering that I am worthless is nothing more than a lie….but, that lie is so convincing. I used to think I must be really messed up; I must be the ONLY PERSON who deals with that type of thinking. Then, one day I read Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans. And, I realized I was not alone; at least Paul understood me:
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15 (ESV)
That’st exactly what it’s like for me! I know how I’m supposed to act; supposed to think; supposed to believe. And, I’m getting better and better at it. But, then, I get the legs knocked out from under me by arthritis and a bone spur. And, the very thing I hate winds up being what I do…believing that I just don’t have what it takes.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:21-24
Who WILL deliver me from myself? Seems hopeless for me and for Paul, until we get to the next verse:
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25 (ESV)
So, I’ve come full circle. And, I realize that I AM weak; I AM intrinsically broken. We all are! We are all defective. We all need deliverance….transformation. And, thanks be to God the way was made through Jesus Christ our Lord! In my weakness, He is strong!
So, tonight I’m praying. I’m asking my Dad to heal my body because He wants to. I’m repenting and asking His forgiveness for my short but real trip down a dark path in my thinking. I’m asking for a deeper revelation of Jesus, my deliverer from this body of death, so I can become more like Him. And, I’m trusting that in my weakest moments, He is strongest.
Yeah…he loves me just that much.