Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How a Frozen Shoulder Reminds Me of God's Upward Call

My radiologist check-up confirmed that all is dandy with my skin and surgical site following radiation, and I was pronounced officially a "cancer survivor." He did notice that my right arm range of motion is quite compromised. I can not raise it horizontally from my side higher than 90 degrees. That is about half of a normal range. So I need to be doing more stretching exercises, and he says I will need to do them my entire life or those muscles will always want to contract and tighten.  I had been doing range of motion exercises, but not that one! He told me I could do it as many times a day as I could stand. I don't quite have a 'frozen shoulder', but it will be one if I don't diligently add this new stretch each day.

Oh well. 

On the positive side, he told me he saw no reason for me not to kayak. At 7-weeks post broken rib, he felt it was fine to ease back into kayaking. 

I returned from my doctor appointment, did some painful range of motion exercises, and loaded my kayak in the car. Today, I will try to kayak for at least a little while. It has been almost three months since kayaking. I lost my whole summer!

Throughout the day yesterday, I stretched my arm out horizontally, turning my body so I didn't 'cheat'. The doctor warned me that the stretch would be intense for a while, and I would be tempted to shift my body so the arm was not truly directly out to my side.

Trying very hard not to cheat, I inched my arm up the wall, using my fingertips tip-toing like spider legs upward to help stretch higher. It was tempting to cheat. As soon as my arm reached any further than directly across from my shoulder, stabs of pain radiated through my upper arm and shoulder.

Try it. You will see that 90 degrees is a pathetically limited range! Despite the discomfort, I did this several times yesterday. My shoulder feels 'sprained' and frankly I am sick of pain, but I don't want to lose function so I will do what I must do as long as I must do it.

This morning, I made my coffee and then stretched my arm out and put my hand against the wall. Slowly I inched my fingers up the wall, raising my arm to at least 110 degrees! I had regained all that lost movement after just one day of stretching!

This reminded my of my walk with God. If I don't stretch myself to follow Him, and to obey more completely today than I did yesterday, I stagnate. I even regress. I lose my ability to reach areas He intends for me to reach. I need to 'exercise' my spiritual range of motion regularly -- reading His word to stretch my knowledge, praying to stretch my areas of strength and relationship with Him, acting on His word to stretch my obedience and faith.

When I do that, inevitably I can do more than I ever imagined I could do.

Unless my reach exceed my grasp, what is a Heaven for?

Reach higher, Saints, and do so regularly. Don't lose the best that God has for you out of laziness, neglect, pride, or even pain. We ALL need daily stretching of our arms upward, palms open, fingers reaching to God.

Philippians 3:13-14 

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

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