Take Care of Yourself

When your body suffers, so does your ministry.

Oh my. I’m sitting in my basement office in my pj’s and when I prayed and asked God for guidance for this post, those words came to me. I suppose God wants me to write about the elephant here in my room.

I’ve been struggling with a physical issue for a few weeks, and I haven’t been able to write a blog post because it felt draining to me. Just being honest. Writing a blog post like this, well, it’s been hard because I open up here in the hopes of helping someone out there.

Being honest about what we’re going through can be hard. Letting others see us without our game faces (or makeup!) can be so revealing, so cringe-worthy. We want to appear to be strong and sleek and on top of things. Not weak, pudgy, and falling asleep on the couch before it gets dark.

And yet when we’re not feeling our best or we’re battling something attacking our bodies, we are not able to perform at our best.

I remember when I used to run a long time ago when my knees would allow it. If I ate a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream the night before, my morning run suffered.

Now if I don’t exercise, I struggle with brain fog and my entire body suffers. (I suppose I’ve been in denial thinking I can eat the way I used to when I was in my twenties and NOT exercise and nothing is going to change. Hello, reality!)

So it seems, if we don’t take care of ourselves, our ministry, our service to God and others suffer.

Your ministry might be spending time with your child and showing them God’s love through nature walks, volunteering at a food pantry, working long hours to put food on the table for your family, encouraging a friend, visiting someone who can’t venture out, writing stories of faith and hope, singing of God’s glory..the list can go on and on.

So, taking care of ourselves would not be a selfish act, but a way to honor God and to love others. And to be ready.

Be ready?

That’s right. When God calls us to expand our ministry or begin a new one, we’ll be excited and full of overall tingling anticipation—not drained at the very thought of doing ONE MORE THING.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Today, I’m taking the plunge into better health so my ministry won’t suffer and I can be ready. I’ve been here before and wandered off to My Own Way Lane where chocolate chips, potato chips, and bowls of frosting abound. But God is drawing me back. (Thank You, Lord!)

So what does this involve for me? Eating better (cue my grumpy toddler face), exercising (face contorted in pain), and a doctor’s visit (using wisdom here).

What about you? Are you willing to take care of yourself so your ministry can flourish and you can be ready when God calls?

“Do you not know that your body is a temple 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 body.”

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV.)

“Be prepared in season and out of season.”

(2 Timothy 4:2b NIV.)

A New Journey

journeyI was lying in bed the other night, thinking about something I ate earlier. I had mixed up a batch of chocolate frosting and dropped in a couple teaspoons of peanut butter and just enjoyed myself all the way to the bottom of the bowl.  The sad thing?  I’ve done this many times before only without the peanut butter.  So why was I thinking about it late into the night?  Because God wanted me to.

You see, I love going to bed and talking to God and thinking about Him until I fall asleep. I’ll think about the day, what’s coming tomorrow, and this amazing and vivid image I have of Jesus waiting for me under a tree where we can sit and talk.  One day, I think, I’ll be able to do that.  But until then, I close my eyes and talk to Him when the house is dark and still.  And that particular night, God reminded me of what I’d eaten and how drained I felt.  He also reminded me how a car’s performance depends on maintenance and the proper fuel.  I was listening.

I realized this body He has given me is really only temporary, but it’s still my responsibility to take care of it. What if God calls me to do something, to go and encourage someone, but I’m crashed out on the couch because my blood sugar plummeted?  Or what if He calls me to Africa as a missionary and I need to trek miles on foot but I’ve consumed nothing but sugar and potato chips, so I have to turn down the offer because my body can’t take that sort of thing?  (My Mom reminds me from time to time that we need to be ready when God calls us to do things.)  I want to be ready.

I don’t want to miss God’s best for me because I’m not giving my best to the vessel He’s allowing me to borrow.

I have to exhale here. I don’t have just a sweet tooth but a mouth full of them and this is going to be hard.  But when I cried out to God the other night, I asked Him to help me, to change the desire of my heart (and my taste buds), so I can be a better vessel for Him, for His Holy Spirit to work through.  And when I woke up in the morning, something had changed.  Did I jump out of bed and run to make a green smoothie?  Not hardly.  But I decided that I would begin.  I would begin this journey of taking care of something I’ve had entrusted to me for over forty years that I usually leave at the bottom of my priority list.  After this writing project is done, I’ll eat better.  After the first of the year, I’ll exercise.  After the Easter candy, I’ll stop eating chocolate.  Those promises wear me out and depress me every time I fail.

So instead, I’m looking to God for help. I’m revisiting that image of Jesus under the tree and I want to see Him smiling as He tells me, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23).  I don’t want Him to shake His head at me and say, “If only you would have put down that bowl of frosting.  I had so much more for you.”

I’m not on a diet. I’m not starting on a new health fad.  I’m finally beginning to see the gift God has given me for what it is, and I’m going to take care of it.  I’m going to smile and laugh when I turn down the frosting.  And I’m going to reach for God’s hand when I stumble and slip back to an old habit and ask Him to help me begin again.  But I will not be defeated.  That old devil would love to keep me in a wrecked body that’s hyped up on sugar and empty calories, keeping me trapped in my own little prison cell of disliking the way I look and the way I feel.  But he’s too late.  God and I have already started out on this journey and that prison cell is already corroding in our shadows.

Now, on to better health and God’s purpose for my life.

And I’m praying the same for you.  Let’s be healthy and strong together to build up His kingdom.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple 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 body.” (1Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV.)