I did something last week I've never done before. I walked into a physical therapy clinic as a patient, and I learned two things: 1) I have been fortunate to live 70 years without needing physical therapy, and 2) It is a highly beneficial process/science/practice when you DO need it. Furthermore, the clinic I chose is only 5 minutes from my house. A huge plus.
No, I haven't had a knee or hip replacement or anything nearly so serious. But, I've been suffering from shoulder bursitis for several months, trying to get better with ice packs, heating pads, muscle relaxers, and other meds. Nothing worked until I saw an orthopedic doctor who gave me a giant shot in my bursa and prescribed a month of physical therapy.
I was very curious about what would happen inside the doors of that clinic.
After reading through about 9 pages of forms I filled out, the therapist (a young, attractive, 20- or 30-something young lady) started taking measurements, poking, prodding, and pinpointing. She needed to know exactly where my problem was before she could design a series of exercises and treatments that could potentially solve the issue or at least lessen the pain. The first day of exercise was pretty uncomfortable, but now, a couple of weeks later, I'm already feeling a vast improvement.
As you've come to expect, this led me to think more closely about a spiritual application.
As believers, what do we have available to do spiritual therapy on our hearts when we need it? The answers jumped out at me because I've experienced having a problem (far more times than I want to admit), seeing it pinpointed by God, going through the process of restoration, and finally feeling the comfort.
God's Word and the power and work of the Holy Spirit
Countless times I've been confronted with the exact source of my sin when I've read the Bible and found myself doing/saying/thinking as the people on those pages did/said/thought.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (The Living Bible) -- "The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. It is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone."
As a believer, I know that the only way to make things truly right is to ask for forgiveness.
1 John 1:9 -- "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Psalm 51:10 -- "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."
James 5:16 -- "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."
The act of searching our hearts for sin and asking for forgiveness in order to approach a new day with a clean heart must become a habit -- just like those exercises recommended by the physical therapist.
But, wait. There's more. At the end of a hard, intense session with a physical therapist some measures are taken to provide comfort to newly-stretched muscles. I'll readily admit it's my favorite part. A warm pad is placed on my shoulder, and I'm hooked up to a TENS Unit and Muscle Stimulator. Electrodes are placed around the muscle being treated, and electric currents seek out the problem and zap it with penetrating currents (painlessly, of course). Two of the words I love most that describe the Holy Spirit are "comforter" and "intercessor." When we uncover our sin and receive God's forgiveness, THEN we can feel the comforting presence and power of the Holy Spirit and know that He is constantly interceding on our behalf before the throne of God. He is praying for us, even when we don't know how to pray or what to pray for. By comparison, I don't know how to reach the muscles inside my shoulder, but that TENS unit does. So, in effect, it does the work for me.
John 14:16-17 (New American Standard Version) -- "I (Jesus) will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (other words are Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor), so that He may be with you forever; the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you."
Romans 8:26-27 (NASV) -- "Now in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."
Do those verses soothe your soul today?
No analogy is perfect, but for today let me just say that I am grateful for both physical therapy and spiritual therapy. How about you?