22. the blessing of a healthy life

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6.19-20

Read that again.

I am the walking tabernacle of the Presence of God. He chose to make his temple an internal one…made up of you and me – the body of Christ. Everywhere we go, the Holy Spirit goes with us because He lives within us. My body is His temple.

What a humbling thought!

Since the Word of God speaks truth, my lifestyle should be one pleasing to him. I should embrace a lifestyle where I’m pursing holiness, righteousness and godliness (becoming like Jesus) and making physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health a priority. In other words, I need to take care of myself too.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Jesus, Matthew 22.37-39

Yes, God calls us to think of the needs and interests of others more than our own, to value them first, but He doesn’t ask us to abandon taking care of ourselves in the process. He asks us to be humble. Tim Keller quotes the definition of humility perfectly:

“…the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”

Note the commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love your neighbor the same way you love yourself.

Take care of your neighbor in the same way you take care of yourself.

When it comes to caring for others, we can only go so far if we’re not healthy to begin with. If you catch a cold or the flu (it is that season, after all) or run yourself into the ground with the combination of stress and lack of sleep due to never taking a day off, you’ll be useless.

I’ve been there.

I went through two years of that when I was in college. I worked four jobs, took a fulltime college coarse load, was involved in two college ministries, church activities and choir and not to mention maintained an active social life outside of all that while completing homework on time. My days often began at 4 AM and finished well after midnight.

I gained more than the dreaded freshman fifteen and experienced a major lack of energy. My typical positive outlook onhealth life wavered and by the time I surfaced again, I had realized that God was still standing where I had left him as I drifted off into the abyss.

Looking back, I don’t know how I did it. Perhaps it was the energy of a person in their early 20s. Perhaps it was by the grace of God. And I’d like to say that it will never happen again, but you know how that goes. “Life” might kick in again in the form a husband and kids one day and if not, ministry and work may demand more of my attention than it does now, but I am bound and determined to not let it derail my health on any level again.

Food. Sleep. Jesus.

God designed us to nourish the body through healthy eating, physical exertion, rest and mental stimulation through His Word.

In the last three years, I’ve trained myself to eat more vegetables and prefer fruit to cookies and other sweets. Oreos (my weakness) have taken a back row seat – and this is not to say that I don’t allow myself the joy of eating those sweet little cookies occasionally. I joined a gym when I moved to Minneapolis and went five times a week for over two years. I’ve since changed gyms to a more cost-effective one (not to mention that it’s on my way home!) recently and am now learning to love running. I do yoga and enjoy Pilates (the free kind). I practically walk everywhere and love the fact that I live in  city that is so walker/biker friendly. I don’t diet but have adopted a healthier way of eating. I’ve also allowed myself more time to focus on my relationship with God, growing through reading scripture, prayer and through the community of my church.

The benefits: I’ve lost 45 lbs. and kept it off. I have more energy than I did when I was in college. My relationship with God and those I have with my fellow brothers and sisters is deeper and they all continue to grow. I’ve found joy in Him and it’s enough to bring laughter and a brighter smile to my day.

Laughter is quite the health-promoter…and for both that and my current health state, I am grateful.

How about you? What can you do to take care of yourself today so that you can put the interests of others first? Pray and God for guidance and empowerment on this journey to honoring him with not just your heart, mind and soul, but with your strength, your body, His temple.

And remember – smile today. It’ll do you good.

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