The best things about being sick is getting well.
Interestingly, getting well reveals how wretched you actually felt.
And that realization forces you to acknowledge how much you took your health for granted.
- How you neglected and abused it.
- How you assumed it would always be there, compensating for your poor choices.
- How it deteriorates when it’s ignored.
Thing is, we do the same thing with our spiritual health.
Think back to the last time you were horribly, wretchedly sick.
- Did you experience warning signs, feel it settling into your system before if took over?
- Did chills have you shivering one minute and sweating the next?
- Did body aches erupt from your bones as fever took you on a roller coaster ride you couldn’t get off of?
- Did nausea sadistically grip your insides without relief?
- Was fatigue so debilitating you could barely move?
- Did coming out of that illness feel like climbing out of a deep dark hole?
- And once you were out, did you swear to do whatever it took to never go back there again?
About a week before Christmas I started to feel “off,” but I chose to ignore the warning signs—“I didn’t have time to be sick.” My schedule was loaded, the Bible study was wrapping up, wrestling meets were (and are) in full swing, and I still had to prepare for Christmas. My solution: Pop a few cold medicine capsules. Up my water intake. Forge forward. Don’t look back. And hope it would go away.
It didn’t go away.
I made it through Christmas, but two days later, I was taken down…and out.
Over the next two weeks I struggled to manage my symptoms, but in the end, influenza had it’s way with me. Then, to make things more interesting, just as I was starting to heal, I got a secondary illness—a wicked sinus infection—and relapsed back into influenza.
Managing symptoms quickly morphed into survival mode. Hot tea, water, sleep, and audiobooks were my companions.
Eventually, my body began to heal and my mind and heart began to clear. Then God began to talk to me about the parallels between our (my) physical and spiritual health.
- How we (I) take both for granted.
- How we (I) abuse and neglect them while assuming they will be there in full force when we (I) need them.
- How they rapidly deteriorate when we (I) don’t care for them well.
- And how to keep them strong so they are there when we (I) need them.
Let me clarify: Our Spiritual health is not the same thing as our salvation. Once we’ve accepted Jesus as our Savior and have chosen to follow Him, we are His. Sealed by the Holy Spirit. Saved.
What I’m talking about is the quality of our faith and relationship with Jesus. Their depth and vitality. Their vibrance and relevance.
Why is this important?
Seriously, think about it for a moment.
Why would the quality of your faith and relationship with Jesus be important? To you? And to your Spiritual health?
When trials, tribulations, persecutions, and disappointments come, the quality of my faith and relationship with Jesus enable me to fight these battles in a way that honors Him—with His strength, wisdom, perception, insight, and discernment. And when the battle is over, my faith and relationship with Jesus provide a safe place to heal while fortifying my resilience for the next time.
The quality of my relationship with Jesus also gives me assurance, confidence, peace, and direction. When my faith is weak, I’m plagued with insecurities. I second-guess myself and my calling. I’m afraid I’ve misinterpreted the Spirit’s leading and will fail. Negative thoughts take over and grind out my confidence, diligence, determination, and courage.
But the closer I am to Jesus; when I’m deeply rooted in His Word and actively coming to Him in prayer…
- His Truth dissolves those insecurities by reminding me of Whose I am and who I am.
- The joy in pursuing His purpose consumes me.
- He reaffirms I’m going in the right direction and following His lead.
And in the process, my faith grows and is refined.
There are far too many times, due to a weak faith I get entangled in discouragement, disappointment, and self-pity. I allow the craziness, busyness, and again-ness of life to strain that relationship. I don’t care for it like I need to. I take it for granted. I neglect and ignore it.
I assume the strength and vitality of my relationship with Jesus will always be there—like I will be able to enjoy the benefits, blessings, and dividends without the investment.
- I rush through my quiet time—if I make time for it at all.
- I’m anxious and stressed to get to the next 15 things.
- I treat it like another task to cross off my To Do list as opposed to a priority, an opportunity to spend time one-on-one with my Savior.
- I don’t spend quality time on my knees.
- I neglect pouring out my cares, worries, and sin.
- I ignore the daily need to request His forgiveness and filling of His Spirit.
And the result? I get “sick.” Horribly, wretchedly sick. I feel lost. Alone. Insecure. Disheartened. Afraid. I’m easily discouraged and the despondent owner of a defeatist mentality.
This is where I was spiritually when God and I started to talk about the parallels between physical and spiritual health.
I “woke up” feeling disgusted with myself and began battling my way through by employing the 5 basic ways to improve and maintain our Spiritual health: Examine, Imitate, Pray, Grow, Walk.
Our Spiritual heath is determined by the quality of our time in the Word.Tweet
Like our physical health requires good daily nutrition, so does our spiritual health. We need “food” we can “chew on,” ponder, think about, and meditate on. Food that will nourish and regenerate our minds, hearts, and souls. Food that will build our defenses and strength. Food that will sustain us and keep us satisfied.
The problem is, we get lazy.
Physically: We don’t take the time to plan and prepare quality food so we can eat well. As we race from one thing to the next we grab a “quick bite.” A protein bar. Fast food. Or some other junk that will fill our bellies but not satisfy our needs. It will increase our sugar levels but not provide the nourishment our body craves. There are times this is acceptable, but far to often it becomes a way of life.
The result? Our bodies don’t have the defenses needed to ward off the illnesses it’s assaulted with on a regular basis.
Spiritually we fall into the same trap. We don’t make time to read and study God’s Word daily. Instead we read books and blog posts, listen to podcasts, or stream praise music. Enough to ward off the hunger, but not enough to fully satisfy our soul. I’m not saying these things are bad—of course not! These things are an enrichingly vital part of my life too, but books, blogs, podcasts, and music are supplements, appetizers to our “main course.” They bless, encourage, and teach us, but they’re not a substitute for God speaking to you directly through His Word. They can’t replace the joy of discovery, the building of relationship, found only as you engage in the Scriptures.
If you want to study on your own
- Spend 15 minutes a day reading—a Gospel one of Paul’s letters, Old Testament history or prophets
- Keep a notebook to record:
- The address of what you read
- One thing (or more) you learned
- One thing (or more) God talked to you about
- One thing (or more) that blessed and encouraged you.
- Ask God to help you apply what you read.
If you want a Bible study, devotional, or Scripture reading plan
- Go to CBD and see which study fits your needs
- You Version: type in an emotion or need in the search bar online or in the app
Like our horizontal relationships require time together, attention, and communication to maintain and grow so does our relationship with Christ. Yes, He knows our thoughts. Hearts. Desires. Hopes and dreams. He knows our fears, worries, and concerns. But or prayers are a vital way to engage in relationship. To communicate everything on our hearts, in our minds. Personally, I find so much relief and freedom in pouring it all out; telling Him my worries and concerns and handing them over.
Prayer is also essential in our ongoing spiritual warfare. It’s where our power comes from because it gives us direct access to The Living God, The Lord of Heaven’s Armies! Prayer has the power to change lives, families, and communities. Neglecting to pray in our faith journey is like trying to use a laptop without a power source. It runs for a little while on stored battery power, but in short time, it shuts down and is useless.
One of the best things about studying Scripture is we get to learn from other people’s lives, choices, victories, and mistakes; regardless of how much time has passed since the events recorded for us in Scripture and now. See, culture, language, customs, and nations change—people don’t. We’re still doing the same things, sinning in the same way, and facing the same challenges, choices, temptations, and obstacles they were then.
But we have something they didn’t. We have their stories to study and learn from—both good and bad. For those who did it right, we can walk in their footstep. For those who didn’t, we can avoid their pitfalls.
The only way we will grow in our relationship with Jesus is to grow in our knowledge of Him—get to know Him, learn who He is, and what He expects from us. Learn who we are in Him, the promised He has for us, and the hope and joy for us in eternity. And the only way to do that is to study Scripture.
This is where they joy of discovery gets me every time. Learning who we are through Jesus blows my mind especially when we see it in light of who we were and who we are now!
As we grow in our knowledge of Jesus:
- We know what pleases Him and what doesn’t.
- We learn how to live victoriously.
- He teaches us how to put our faith into action, serve others, and bear fruit.
Beloved, our Spiritual heath is determined by the quality of our time in the Word.
When that lapses—our health is not as solid as it could be. And when life’s storms, challenges, and tests come at us, we won’t be ready.
Feast on His Truth!
Let it fill you and sustain you.
And don’t forget to enjoy the supplements and appetizers to your main course.
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