As many of you know, I suffer from severe joint issues and am currently working with my chiropractor to correct these problems. What we have discovered is that my joints are not stabilized because the muscles around those joints are—well, how should I put it—lazy! Yep, there you have it. My muscles are lazy. So, with that diagnosis, the prescription is muscle-building exercise. At this point, I am doing full-body isometric strength training three times each week. On the days I don't do those, I perform flexibility stretches and exercises as well as movements to improve posture and joint stabilization. Every day I'm working on the problem by putting my muscles and joints through rigorous workouts that feel bad in the short term but should produce promising results in the long term.
Besides all the workouts, I've been studying, seeking more and more information on anything and everything I can do to speed up the healing process. Throughout all this research, I've discovered some interesting things, one of which I want to share with you today.
Do you know why so many people suffer from pain in the neck?
Because we never look up. Think about it for a minute. Throughout the day, we look out to drive, work, cook, etc. We look down to tie our shoes, mess with our cell phones and so on. But how often do we look up? Not often, and because of that, the muscles involved in looking up are some of the weakest ones in the body. This results in stiff-necked people.
As soon as I heard that, my mind went to the spiritual application. How many spiritually stiff-necked people are that way because they seldom look up? Their lives are gloom and doom. Everything is a sob story. Even when things are going their way, they adopt the attitude of "Well, better enjoy it because it won't last long."
Jason and I had an encounter with one of these stiff-necked people the other week. We were popping into Walmart on our way home from church, and just outside the store, we met a member of our church who is currently inactive. In fact, she has been inactive for quite a while. As soon as I spotted her, I opened my mouth to tell her how much we've missed her and invite her to join us again. But before I could say anything, she said, "Let me tell you, 2017 hasn't been good to me." Then she listed out the many ways life had treated her poorly. Honestly, by the time she finished talking, I was so ready to get away from the rain cloud that had formed all around us that I don't even remember if I invited her to church or not. I felt the need to escape before I found myself in a pity party.
I bring up this example not to condemn the lady but rather to drive home the point. It's obvious she was going through a difficult time, but she was allowing those troubles to drive her away from God and His people rather than to them. The church is an excellent place to "look up" and see the glory of the Lord. But she's not going to church. She's sitting at home, with her head down and her eyes filled with tears. And in the process, she's becoming a stiff-necked person.
The question you may have is, how do I look up when so many things are getting me down?
That's certainly a valid question. Looking up spiritually is much like looking up physically. It doesn't happen as often as it should, so when we first start out, it feels awkward and unnatural. That's okay. Do it anyway! It may also seem uncomfortable at first, but that, too, will soon pass.
Four Ways to "Look Up" Spiritually:
- You don't need any special equipment or skills. Simply lift your head, speak to God and allow Him to speak to you. Set aside some quiet time for communication between you and your Lord.
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight. (Proverbs 15:8)
2) Read the Bible.
- One sure-fire way to lift my spirits and have me looking to God rather than at my circumstances is to read His Word. There are so many verses that bring comfort to my hurting heart. The stories of victory, redemption, deliverance and more bring a smile to my face and hope to my thoughts.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)
- This one gets a little tricky when we're feeling down and out. Let's face it, in the midst of a pity party, who wants to offer praise. At such times, whether we're willing to say it or not, we don't feel like God deserves our praise. It feels phony. We're hurting, and all we can do is focus on that pain. But if we'll determine to praise God—even it's only for being Who He is—things will turn around. Our attitudes will shift, and our heads will lift.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. (Psalm 150:6)
- This is optional because I know some people are not musical, and your attempts might be offensive to those around you. But music is a powerful way to snap out of a "deep pit mindset." Listen to some powerful, uplifting music, or better yet, sing it. Let Satan and everyone around you hear the positive message coming from your lips. Even if you don't necessarily "feel it" when you start, you probably will by the time you're done.
O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day. (Psalm 96:1-2)
We don't have to be stiff-necked or downcast. There is a remedy, and it's simple: Look up!
Look to Heaven and exercise those neck muscles. How else are we supposed to hold our heads up high?