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Movement Pattern

Spiritual Training Cycle: Examination (wk. 1/13)

In the Fall of 2009, I flipped over the handlebars of my road bike and hit the pavement at just under 30 miles per hour. By the time the dust had settled and the EMT arrived, it was clear I was injured. Later that morning the ER doc broke the news: I had a grade three A/C joint separation in my left shoulder. After determining surgery was not mandatory, I set my rehab plan in motion, beginning work with a good chiropractor. He introduced me to an exercise I had never heard of – the spider walk. My job was to touch the wall with my left fingers and then “walk” them up the wall until I felt pain. Then I would “walk” them back down again. Six inches into my first spider walk I cried out in pain and dropped my arm. My doc said, “Ok, there’s the start of your movement pattern.”

If you’ve ever had to deal with an injury, then you know the importance of a movement pattern. When the body is in stress or pain, it will restrict movement to reduce either one. And while that sounds like a good thing, if you work within that reduced movement pattern too long, it becomes THE movement pattern. In other words, if I didn’t get to moving my shoulder, I could be stuck with a long-term limitation. My shoulder needed to be pushed beyond what was comfortable to restore itself fully and regain its movement pattern.

Not only do we have physical movement patterns, but we also have spiritual movement patterns. Humanity has a deep intrinsic need to be connected to God. But our movement pattern toward Him is limited by a selfish and self-serving set of desires inside each of us. When our choices are driven by those desires, our connection to God is limited by sin.

Now don’t change the channel yet. Stick with me and give me some room to explain. Sin has been defined by many in the religious world as this awful thing you do that you shouldn’t do. You know, like when you murder someone or cheat on a spouse or spend money to buy a bunch of stuff to impress people you don’t even like. Surely that’s not you, right? And based on definitions like those, we end up convinced we don’t sin because we don’t do terrible, awful things. But that’s not what sin is.

The simplest definition of sin is missing the mark. For example, if you had the opportunity to say something encouraging and you didn’t, you missed the mark. That’s sin. But simple definitions often lack context, so let’s put some in there. The reason sin misses the mark is because it’s against the movement pattern of God. When you act out of emotions such as jealousy, envy, anger, arrogance, pride, or lust, you limit your full potential to be connected to God and to others. And like my injury on the bike, if you’ve been operating this way for any length of time, you’ve got a deeply ingrained limited movement pattern. A pattern you can’t fix on your own. You can try to stop these things, but eventually they come back.

You can’t fix you – only God can.

Easter is a time of year when it seems like many people are thinking about God. Even those who don’t consider themselves religious often show up to a church brought by a family member or friend. They don’t show up because they want religion. And neither do I honestly. They show up because they want connection. They want to feel connected to God. They want to be connected to their true mission and purpose in life. Maybe you do too. If you want a deeper connection to God and a richer, fuller life, the great news is that Jesus can change your spiritual movement pattern. He can bear the weight of your jealousy, your rage, your selfishness, your ego, your worry, your addiction, He can bear the weight of all the marks you miss – all of your sin. He can restore your connection to God. Don’t let a life of missing the mark define who you are in this world. Instead give your life to Jesus and let Him show you who you really are.

Questions for Reflection:

What limits your connection to God?

What does God’s freedom from sin feel like?

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