The Gift of Slowing Down

A few weeks ago, I hurt my back. It was a culmination of several things that led to me being in a lot of pain and not really able to move very much. Needless to say, my recently attained workout disciple was interrupted, it was hard to focus, and I was a bit worried about what long term issues I was going to be enduring. This was of course compounded by me being a bit of a stubborn guy who refuses to let some injury stop me from doing my normal routine.

What I discovered in the next few days was an ever increasing need to take care of my back. This required getting more rest at night, getting up early to stretch, and being more conscious about my movement and my day. My back has gotten much better, but the residual damage is still there and will demand a continued diligence on my behalf, for it to get better.

I share this to drive home a point.

It’s much better to live a life of discipline without the pain, but when the pain comes, it can be a gift.
Most of us live with good intentions, but we fail to follow through with them. That is so true with much of the stuff that swirls around in my head and on my todo list. The juggle of obligations can come crashing down at any moment with a single misstep.

When Jesus was trying to communicate how following him was different than mindless, soulless religion he described it by calling it rest.

“Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Now this passage isn’t about pain relief, but rather relief from trying so hard to follow a pattern of life forced upon you. Instead a life of following Jesus is one of freedom and lightness of burden. It’s a life of embracing each moment as a gift and then using that gift to make light shine in the darkness all around us.

I think we have lost the ability to rest and add so much to our lives in the hopes of finding value in our existence. That struggle can lead to so much pain in our hearts and ultimately rob the joy from our lives.

My prayer is that we can avoid the pain and embrace the freedom of a life lived knowing we are loved by the creator. However, if it takes some pain for us realize this, then that temporary suffering is a gift from the father who love us more than we can fathom.