“This Your First Time?” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

The exam room door displayed a complicated diagram of the human nervous system. A small heating lamp was positioned next to the examination table. As I was escorted in by the doctor, I was asked to sit at the table and remove my shoes. 

“This your first time?”

I nodded. “Nothing to worry about.” He smiled. Within a few minutes, my legs, forearms, and ears were stuck with slender needles. It was my first time being treated with acupuncture. For a variety of reasons, I was seeking additional treatment for my tinnitus (ringing in my ears), neck pain, lower back pain, and pain in my thumb joints. I had been evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon who confirmed that my joint pain was due to wear and tear, simply getting old. Surgery was not yet an option and I was already doing core strengthening exercises. For tinnitus, I had been evaluated by several healthcare professionals who reluctantly concluded there was not much to be done for me. Through my research, I found acupuncture to have some success in selected patients for all of my afflictions. My wife had her hip pain treated successfully by this same acupuncturist so I decided to give him a try.

Decades ago, in medical school, I learned of the merit and some of the possible scientific mechanisms of acupuncture. Through the ensuing years, I carefully followed the medical literature regarding the efficacy and role in patient care for a variety of diseases. Now it was time to experience it for me. Thankfully, it was relatively painless and uneventful. After the session, my family anxiously desired to hear about my experience. I glibly responded, “Well, I don’t feel any worse! I am aware of any placebo effect so let me see how I feel tomorrow.”

The next day had an uneventful beginning however, as the day progressed, I had increasing lower back pain that did not subside until three days later. I was unsure whether it was from the manipulation I received at the chiropractor’s office or an activity that I did after leaving his office. During this period, I was so preoccupied with my lower back pain that I did not notice that my neck pain and joint pain in my thumbs had greatly diminished. My tinnitus was unchanged. Perhaps there was some merit to this.  After speaking with the acupuncturist, we agreed to weekly sessions with the understanding that the tinnitus may require more frequent sessions.

As I reflected upon the experience, I was struck by how similar it was to my experience of how I came to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I grew up in a nominally Christian home and attended an Episcopalian middle and high school. Although I studied Christianity, I was not ready to commit to it. Only in college, after I had been involved in a religious cult and seemingly exhausted all spiritual options for my life, was I willing to consider the claims and teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ. I took my first hesitating steps by confessing and repenting of my sins and accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Like acupuncture, I did not feel any immediate change. In fact, in a parallel manner, life initially became more complicated. I needed to find extra time to attend church. My relationship with my father became strained since he still participated in the same religious cult of which I had been a part. I seriously questioned whether I had made a mistake. Slowly, God began the process of sanctification in my life, transforming me more into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. I did not see a simultaneous change in all areas of my life, but like the effects of acupuncture, I definitely began to notice it when I took the time to reflect. My priorities were shifting, becoming more God-centered instead of self-centered. 

Everyone’s encounters with God are unique. Some are sudden and dramatic. Some are deathbed conversions. Still others, like myself, take time and continual reassurance. It was my first time for acupuncture but I had been aware of it for many years before I finally relented. God has been working in my life since I was born. Only through His grace and mercy did His knocking on the door of my heart lead to the first time when I accepted Jesus into my heart.

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. 

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (NLT)

Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If God is speaking to you, now is the right time. Now is the day of your salvation.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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