Once we were old enough to buy our own cars, he encouraged us to change the oil regularly and follow the maintenance schedule. Doing so would prevent unexpected and unwanted breakdowns.
I have been very faithful in following my father’s advice about taking care of my car. I have not, however, transferred this wisdom to other areas in my life. How do I know?
A couple of years ago, I was convinced I was going to have to have surgery on my knees. A visit to an orthopedic surgeon confirmed some damage in one and arthritis in the other. He then prescribed physical therapy, which I took to mean a hoop to jump through before surgery could be considered.
However, physical therapy did wonders. It eliminated the pain and restored the range of motion so that I was again doing what I loved—pain free.
You can guess what happened next. Yup. I quit doing my exercises. Why? Because I didn’t think I needed them anymore because the pain was gone. And . . . ? Yup. The pain and constriction has returned.
So I am back to doing my exercises. Lesson learned. Maintenance is just as important as initial aggressive intervention.
But there is another area in my life where I sometimes slip on my maintenance schedule. My spiritual life. When life is going well, I fudge on my devotion time. I can get by without doing it today, I convince myself, which then turns into tomorrow, and the next day, only to find myself unprepared for the unexpected that is waiting around the corner, and then I find myself scrambling to reconnect with God.
I don’t know why these two parallels escaped me. I Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds us that our body is a temple and that we are to take care of it, and John 16:33 tells us that we will have troubles, so stay close to the one who overcame the world.
As my niece used to say when she was little and her elders would start to remind her of what she should be doing — “I know the words!” And yet . . . application can be so hard sometimes.
So I have come to appreciate pain for what can be . . . a reminder . . . not to stray from the disciplines and devotion that can keep me healthy.