My husband, Pete, has suffered from chronic back pain for many years now. About ten years ago, he went to his doctor who after a series of tests sent him to a physical therapist for what he called a “slipped disc”. The therapy went on for weeks, maybe even months, but slowly his back began to heal. Every morning and evening, the kids and I would find Pete on the floor doing these exercises that his therapist had recommended. It took discipline and obedience on Pete’s part to continue with these exercises even when his back stopped hurting. Sometimes he slips up and the pain returns, but for the most part his pain is rare these days.
One vacation, Pete decided to go out with the kids and play tennis. He headed to the tennis courts in his beach attire – bathing suit and sandals. As he began to play, the thought crossed his mind that he should have put on his tennis shoes, but it was vacation so he just blew that thought out of his mind. About ten minutes later, his foot slipped out of his sandal, and it hit just perfectly so that his back slipped out of place. The pain was instant. He immediately regretted that he had not put on those tennis shoes. He hobbled up to our condo as the pain took over. The next day we would be driving home for 15 hours in the car – there would be no relief from this slip up. No pain pills to kill the pain, no exercises were going to alleviate what he felt in 24 hours.
Pete’s back pain is similar to how faith works. Faith takes discipline and obedience. When we slip from that discipline and obedience, we have to be ready to fall into the trap of sin. Sin can cause us tremendous pain and suffering. I would venture to guess that most of us, like Pete, regret our poor decision immediately.
I have found that making room for God each day is essential to taking on my role as a Christian, a mom, a writer, a wife and whatever else I am inspired to do for God. When I discipline myself to read scripture, pray, and just spend time with God; then those occasions to sin are reduced because I am aware of God more than I am of evil. My eyes are focused on God.
Obedience is just as important. When I slip from following the laws that God gave me, then I (just like Pete) fall from Grace. Without obedience, Pete never would have followed all the great advice that his physical therapist gave to him. He would have ignored it and done what he thought was best. With obedience, Pete listened and obeyed what that therapist had to say about treating his back pain.
When I am obedient to God, I listen to what he says to me. I follow his commands, and in turn those commands help me make good decisions based upon God’s Will.
In Fr. Robert Barron’s reflection this morning it says this, “To fully flourish, we must place God at the forefront… Once that relationship with God is clear and central, you will know how to handle temptations.”
Being faithful is hard work. It requires discipline and obedience. Just one slip can change our position enough that we become vulnerable. Where are you vulnerable? What discipline are your working on in your life? How can you become more obedient to God’s commands?