Long truck rides are painful when you have lower back pain, and I have a one-hour commute to work. Many mornings, I resemble a sloth climbing out of my vehicle. I clinch the door with both hands and gently slide out.
Last Friday, I parked at the end of the lot to avoid embarrassment. While sliding out, my elbow slammed into the horn and alerted everyone: “Hey! Look at this crippled man!” So much for trying to be slick.
The irony is, I’m a fitness director. Not only have I experienced pain, but I’ve also studied it. So, I know what provides temporary relief—stretching.
One of the best stretches is a hip-flexor stretch. If you suffer from lower back pain as well, here’s how to perform it: take a knee, be tall, and shift forward. Then, squeeze your cheeks as if there’s no toilet in sight. Breathe. Your body will shunt blood to the hip flexors, which will provide five minutes of relief—enough time to microwave popcorn before you’re on the floor again.
One day, while I held a hip-flexor stretch, I realized how frequently I kneeled, so I repurposed my floor time. I resolved to align my heart’s posture with my body’s posture; to commune with the One Who knelt in Gethsemane’s garden for me.
THE GREATEST TEMPTATION
“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed” (Luke 22:41)
Beams from the blood-red moon pierced through murky clouds, illuminating the Mount of Olives. Writhing, Jesus staggered about a stone’s throw beyond His core group of students and planted His skinned-up knees in the familiar garden. Across the earthy floor, shadows of olive tree limbs swayed like taunting devil’s claws. A crisp breeze kissed His cheek minutes before Judas did.
As Jesus’ snoring students silenced crickets, the lingering taste of bread and wine cast His mind to Calvary. Once there, Christ wouldn’t be able to cry “My Father, My Father,” but “My God, My God.” The thought of His Father forsaking Him made Jesus sorrowful unto death. Christ gripped His chest. Capillaries burst; Sweat turned from clear to crimson.
It would have been easy to flee! It was dark, Christ’s students were counting sheep, and His betrayer hadn’t arrived. Yet, Jesus stayed.
Three times, Jesus urged His students to resist temptation. Each time, He returned to where He resisted temptation to the point of blood. Minutes later, clanking swords hushed a distant owl. “Rise! Here comes my betrayer!”
“And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”–Dr. Luke.
When we panic, our bodies shunt blood toward our vital organs. Fingers turn to ice, cheeks wane pale, as blood rushes inward as if to comfort the soul until the trial has passed. But stare at Jesus—our Fountain—in His greatest temptation; He was so utterly oblivious of self, that instead of His body shunting blood to His core to protect His own heart, it gravitated outward, and nourished the dust.
Dust. We’re made from it. And from Christ’s incarnation to His crucifixion, our Fountain’s blood gravitated toward us. He didn’t force it; He let it.
Oh, the selfless love of Christ! No need for a cat-o’-nine tails, or a hammer and nails, His blood freely flowed! No need to scream, “Crucify Him!” Crimson naturally poured from our selfless Fountain.
OUR CRIMSON FOUNTAIN
Come, my soul. Behold your crimson Fountain. He resisted temptation so that you could be forgiven. Jesus was abandoned so that you could be adopted. Christ was cursed so that you could be blessed. Back pain or no back pain, never cease to bow your knee.
Written by Logan Stogner, 2022 copyright
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