So just the other day I managed to scrape our immaculate 33 year old VW camper van (re-sprayed 18 months ago) down the driver’s side, pulling off the rear wheel arch in the process. The van came off worse in the contest with the rear bumper (or in fact solid steel tube) of a large 4 x 4 truck thing. Entirely my fault, I completely misjudged the distances. But that is not what I want to write about. As I jumped out of the van after this incident to assess the damage (not a scratch on the 4 x 4) I twisted awkwardly and set off a recurring weak muscle injury in my back. And that hurt. In fact, as I write it’s still hurting, so I am typing this kneeling on the deck as that is the most comfortable position I have found so far ….

It made me think back to when I damaged this particular muscle the first time (I have two recurring muscle problems in my back … the other one was done when I attempted to carry my wife up the stairs at a weekend conference …). Store ship was always an evolution that many tried to get out of. A major store ship was a ‘clear lower deck’, which meant of course that everyone had to take part … unless you had a really good excuse. And by ‘eck there were always some great excuses. You could always guarantee that about 10 minutes in the phone calls would start coming in for (it has been said) mainly Chief Petty Officers. These were normally from an oppo on another ship and it was ‘essential’ that they had to go off the ship for a couple of hours. Anyway, we were storing HMS Southampton ready to go to the Falklands for 6 month and the POs mess were bringing on the beer. Barrels and barrels of CSB (Courage Special Brew). It was a long way through the ship to the stowage in the void spaces up fwd, and it had been a long day. Some of the guys were carrying two barrels, one in each arm, while I was sensibly carrying only one. In our wish to get this whole thing done and dusted quickly I made the mistake of attempting two, and it was then that this muscle went. And it’s that muscle that went when I jumped out of the van. After pranging it.

In the prayer that Jesus taught us (we call it ‘The Lord’s prayer’), there is a line that says:

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew Chapter 6 verse 13.

Temptation is one of those things that keeps coming back, sometimes it’s your own fault when you put yourself in a position or place where you know you have a weakness (like if you have a problem with alcohol it’s probably not best to go down the pub). But often temptation creeps up on you, and for no real reason that you can pin down, before you know it you end up falling into whatever trap it is. Or sometimes you just don’t think, it’s not a conscious thing but you end up in the position of being tempted … My back muscle is a bit like that, if I carry too much heavy stuff the odds are its gonna go, so I don’t carry too much heavy stuff. But like this time, I just didn’t think what I was doing, and it went. But the thing is that being tempted itself is not actually wrong. It’s when we get tempted to do something and actually do it that the snags start. Whatever it is, maybe the kids are driving you mad and the temptation is to hit them rather than just send them to the naughty stair or whatever … it’s your response to that temptation that is important… or shall I have another beer and drive home … you get the idea. And you will keep getting tempted in the areas that you are weakest in …

My back is weak in this particular spot, and there is nothing I can do about that, but I can take steps to ensure that I don’t do anything stupid to aggravate it. Even now all these years after that store ship and decision to carry two barrels of CSB, I will do something un-intentionally that sets it off.

But the Bible also says that God will forgive us when we get stuff wrong, so if we do fall to a temptation (it’s called ‘sin’ in the Bible) and do something stupid there is a way back … all we have to do is ‘repent’ (ie turn away from what we have done), and because of what Jesus has done for us that forgiveness is guaranteed … so, if you have acted upon some kind of temptation and done something you regret, take this amazing verse on board …

If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God. 1 John Chapter 1 verses 8 – 10.

So, I will be taking extra care of the back from here on in … and of course getting the van back to its former glory.

Until next time …

Image Credit: Steve Halama