The first thing we do at the end of a year and at the beginning of a new one is to plan how we are going get our physical bodies in shape. We think about a diet plan, which isn’t a bad idea except we tend to go to the extremes---high protein cave man or high carb bunny rabbit. As for exercise, we load up a running app, or at the least, a step counter, and gear up for a half marathon or a more realistic 5K. And, we are going to do yoga every. single. day. because that’s manageable and when we miss a couple of days we can say we meant the weekdays.
Some people are really quite successful in pulling off these lifestyle changes--- and then, there are the rest of us.
None of what we do to improve the health of our bodies is bad, but I’m concerned that we spend more time living toward longevity on the earth than we do living toward eternity in heaven.
A greater challenge for Christ-followers is to spend time thinking about the changes we can make so we feed and exercise our spiritual lives, our eternal lives that go on and on throughout eternity. We know what happens to our bodies if we don’t set our intentions regarding what we feed it and how we condition it. Shouldn’t we give the same type of intention to our spiritual lives? How will we increase in our faith and grow in our understanding of what it means to live in Christ?
It’s one thing to intend to grow spiritually, but like caring for the body it won’t happen automatically. Somewhere along the way, we have bought into the lie that it happens without our participation. Caring for the body requires intentional action but so does caring for the spirit.
Jesus said, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39 ESV)
There are losses that need to happen. Before we can say yes to new ways of living that benefit us spiritually, we have to let go of other things. We should consider the time and effort we put into living for things that are not eternal and make adjustments.
Last year my One Word was incandescent. I wrote about it a few weeks ago. It was a weird word that I didn’t readily accept. But as I consider my word in hindsight, I see God has shown His faithfulness to me. I began the year in a spiritually low place and God fanned the ember of my faith to a flame as I submitted to him. I had thought I would bring the glowing word into 2017 so I'd have more time to bask in its glow. But God impressed on me a new weird word for the coming year: metabolize.
Just like the word incandescent, I had to look it up. I understood it’s meaning generally, but I wanted to see how it might flesh out in my life in the coming year.
metabolism, n. all the chemical processes that occur within a living organism, resulting in energy production (destructive metabolism) and growth (constructive metabolism).
My word is the verb form of the word metabolism. Verbs signify action. When we metabolize food, our bodies take it and turn it into useable substances that grow and sustain our physical bodies. It involves breaking down (losing) in order to gain something life-giving.
After three years of an intense spiritual season of life, I sense a change coming. A period of learning to lose has awakened in me new insight and energy for living in the next things God has for me.
I think he has a similar plan for your life but he’s not going to hack into your iCalendar so He can get on your schedule. You must make time to be in his word to build your relationship with him. Do you want to know God better? Spend time with Him. Show up. Take what he has to offer and eat it. Do you want to pray a prayer that God always answers in the affirmative? Pray this: "Lord, I want to know you more."
It will take time. You may have to wait before you see the results. You don’t get physically fit in a day. It is the same for our spiritual lives. Part of growth is learning to trust Him with the outcome. We set our goal to compete in the half; God has the whole in mind for us.
A healthy body helps us achieve our spiritual goals. This is true. We can’t ignore the body. We are not to worship it either. Our bodies serve us, and in turn God and others, as we to submit to the Holy Spirit to do his transforming work in our minds as well.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)I’m going to continue to take in the life God has for me in the coming year. I am confident that He has and will continue to feed me that which will be transformed into eternal treasures. Spititual metabolism.
There isn't a t-shirt waiting at the finish line as a prize; there’s a crown--- and the words, “Well done, well done” from the One who leads the way into this everlasting destiny.
Now that's a race worth running. I am hoping there are others who are intent on running this race with me. Will you be one of them?