Massage Therapy

I was lying face down fully clothed on a floor mat.   She worked with her feet.  Kneading my shoulders.  Her heels would dig into the tightness, trying to release all the pent-up stress.  Attempting to soften the scar tissue from years past.  Working to soothe the aches and stiffness of aging.  At times, she would use her hands to relax the tightness in my body.

She moved to my feet.  Once again, trying to massage out the tightness and pain.  She explained the reason for the discomfort.  She massaged my back, arms, legs – all were tight.

She sat in a folding chair, moving it around me as she worked on different parts of my body.  Fijian foot massage.  That’s what it’s called.  Effective.  Intense.  Unforgettable.

The thing is.  She understands human anatomy.  She can identify problem areas just by touch.  She can manipulate muscles and tendons in a way that soothes not only the pain, but it comforts the soul. She can calm tired shoulders and relax tight back muscles.

At times, the body work was soothing, causing me to relax.  Other times, the pain was intense.  Regardless of the pain, she kept working.  She didn’t work in one area too long, but the work she did was effective.

As I lay face down on the floor mat, I was grateful that she couldn’t see me wince in pain and discomfort as she worked out the tightness.  But when she had me turn over, I tried to be stoic and not show any indication that I was ever in pain.  I didn’t want her to ease up on the pressure.

You see.  I wanted her to work out all the tightness in my muscles.  I wanted her to help me relax, so I would be able to move freely without pain or injury.  I needed this pain as much as I hated it.  It was good pain.  It meant good things were happening.  It was temporary pain.


I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  John 15:1-2


I remember times when I felt another type of pain.  Spiritual pain.  Emotional pain.  Loss had occurred.  Feelings had been hurt.  Wrong decisions had been made.  Many different hurts.  Not all at once.  But seeming to never end.

I have a God who continues to work on the parts of me that are troubled.  My unkind words.  My bad attitude.  My ungrateful heart.  My poor decisions.  My lack of generosity.  My failure to spend time with my Maker.  My humanity that needs to be moldable but is like hardened clay.

The thing is.  He understands humanity.  He created us.  He created us to be with Him.  He created us to be like Him.  Yet we resist.  Then our hearts turn to stone.  Our emotions become cold.  Our patience thins.  Our words sharpen.  Our goals and dreams are self-centered.

Sometimes his correction is painful.  Other times, it is a soothing and calming touch.  He’s pruning the overgrowth and shaping my heart to align with His ways.  It’s a difficult task that He has, but He alone can do it.  He knows the correction is temporary, but has eternal consequences.

He continues to caress my heart so I can feel empathy for those in need.  He faithfully draws me to His Word so He can teach me His ways.  His patience is never-ending on those days when my patience is cut so thin.  He massages the scar tissue of past hurts and lost dreams so I can continue to look forward to the future.  He trims the branches of bad attitudes and ungratefulness.  He leads me in the way everlasting.  Not because I deserve any of this, but because of His love for me.  His Son paid the price so I could be made whole.

 

 

Planted to Grow

She bought the best looking tomato plants she could find.  Two different varieties.  The tomato plants were beautiful.  So much hope.  So much promise.  They were destined for great results.

She planted them with care.  In pots.  She kept those pots on the deck away from stray animals.  Fearful that the deer and other unknown creatures of the wild would destroy her prized garden.

She watered the plants every day.  They began to grow.  And grow.  Stakes were put in place to hold and strengthen the growing stalks.  Soon the stalks were taller than the stakes.  These plants were going to overproduce.  She could just feel it.

The plants bloomed.  The heat of the summer would dry out the blooms.  She would water them more.  But finally.  Finally, she saw the tiny tomatoes starting to form on the plants.  Now the long wait began for ripe red tomatoes.

As the weeks went by, she noticed that the plants had reached their full height.  But they had also stopped blooming.  There were roughly 10 tomatoes on both plants combined.  No new blooms.  No new tomatoes.  How could that be?  These plants should be producing lots of tomatoes.

She continued watering the plants each day.  She began to notice the leaves were withering and dying.  Was she watering the plants too much?  She didn’t think so.  After all, it was really hot and muggy most days.  They needed water.

Then one day, she noticed the roots on one of the plants.  She realized she had planted her prize tomatoes in shallow pots.  The roots had reached their limit.  They had no more room to grow.

She didn’t know that what is seen above the soil is determined by what’s hidden under it. She didn’t know that the roots are the biggest part of the plant.  She didn’t know that a healthy tomato plant needs a lot of space for a strong root system.  If only she had studied about tomatoes.  How to plant them.  How to feed and water them.  How to get them to produce the best and most tomatoes.  But she didn’t.  She just planted them, watered them and left them to grow on their own.

She didn’t know that during the hot, sun-blazing days, the plants would begin to wither and die because the root structure wasn’t able to go deep enough to sustain life and continued growth.

Sure.  These plants are producing tomatoes.  But there’s not an abundance of the crop.  There’s only a handful of pitiful looking small tomatoes.  The fruit of the vine didn’t live up to its potential.  Simply because of the lack of preparation and proper planting.


The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.  But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long.  They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.  Matthew 13: 20-21


 

She was raised in a Christian home where God’s word was regularly shared.  Her family read the Bible together.  They prayed together.  They had devotions together.

Her parents tended to their garden of their 7 children.  They sowed the seed of the gospel.  They planted the disciplines of a godly life.  They watered the Biblical teachings by taking their family to church.  Her parents did their part to allow the Word of God to be fruitful in her life.

As she became an adult, she realized she must take ownership for her relationship with God.  Her parents did the work that was entrusted to them.  They introduced her to Christ, and now she must continue the work in her heart.   Now she must till the soil to remove any weeds and thorns of jealousy, anger or comparison.  She continues to dig up rocks and stones in her heart that get in the way of the seeds her parents planted so many years ago.  She has to continually water her soul with the Word of God, so her roots will grow deep and not be parched and wither.  It’s a daily work in the garden of her heart that will produce a healthy and mature Christian.

She knows what God requires of her.  He tells her what she needs to do to please Him.  He wants to have a close relationship with her.  He wants her to study the words He’s written.  He wants her to grow roots deep in His love.  He wants her to spend time alone with Him.  Reading His word.  Listening to the words he says to her.  Learning the lessons he wants to teach her.  Growing closer to him by spending time together.

After all, they are in a relationship.

In any other relationship, she spends time with the person.  Talking to them.  Listening to them.  Finding common ground.  Learning differences.  Becoming friends.  Wanting to spend even more time together.  Falling in love.

Why shouldn’t her relationship with God be the same?  He’s the friend who will never leave her.  He will never give up on her.  He’s always available when she needs him.