Friday, July 10, 2009

Temptation - The Ultimate Pain in the Neck

This week, I've been dealing with a pain in the neck - literally. There is a pinched nerve in the base of my neck that is causing pain in my back, shoulder and arm. Sometime it's overwhelming and tears stream down my face in frustration - most of the time it's manageable. The pain is always there to some degree. I'm learning to go about daily life despite its constant distraction. I've noticed that when I'm concentrating on the important things in life (work, time with friends and family, writing my blog, etc.) that I am able to ignore the pain. I've tried over-the-counter pain relievers, but they hardly mask the pain and can't heal the pinched nerve. Icing the base of my neck seems to alleviate most of the pain while the ice is on my neck but like the pain relievers, cannot correct the cause. I do have hope for permanent relief though as I'm going to a chiropractor who is gently but firmly working the muscles, disks, and cartilage that have shifted out of position back into place. The pain of these office visits are excruciating at times, but necessary to correct the pinched nerve before it becomes permanently damaged.

At first I thought that I was learning about perseverance this week. But in prayer, I've come to realize that this week's lesson is about learning how to deal with temptation. Temptation is like the pain I've experienced this week. While it's the temptation that grabs our attention - the root cause is found elsewhere. Temptation is only a symptom of our sinfulness and it is always there to some degree.

I'm learning to go about my daily life despite temptation's constant distraction and I've noticed that when I'm concentrating on important things like honoring God, spending time in his presence, and helping my brothers and sisters in Christ, that I am able to ignore temptation for the most part. I can look to the world's remedies such as shrugging off my sinful actions as unavoidable, convincing myself it’s okay to sin, or claiming that sin is my right as an individual to deal with temptation but that won’t solve the root cause or eliminate temptation. Real healing comes from time spent with God, seeking his presence and comfort, his guidance and strength. God is creating in me a new heart - one that loves God, not sin. He is the only one who can heal the sinfulness in me and bring final and lasting freedom from temptation. He works this healing in my heart and in my life gently but firmly and this is not always a pleasant experience. In fact, the pain of this healing can sometimes be excruciating, but necessary if God is going to mold and make me into the beloved child of God that he is creating me to be.
About the pictures:
Parkwood Presbyterian Church, Allison Park, PA (July 2009)

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