Saturday, September 29, 2007

Healthy

It is possible to discover
a new depth of healing and freedom…
to experience the love of God…
to find intimacy with him. – ChangePoint Ministries

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…” – Jesus

For many years my home church in Auburn, WA has attracted and served people who were coming out of problems with addiction and abuse. Many recovering alcoholics have found it a safe and refreshing community. We’re pretty ‘into’ things like healing prayer, using spiritual gifts, etc. – at least, for Presbyterians! (My friends in more deeply charismatic circles might say it’s pretty tame stuff and we still have a long way to go!)

It’s been 13 years now since I moved away, and there’s been a lot of turnover. The entire church staff has changed, and most of the people in the church now come from a different town and culture – Enumclaw, not Auburn (the church is in the middle). But I think many of the best things about the church have only gotten better.

A few years back a ministry of personal healing and transformation developed through the church, eventually spinning off into a new organization, ChangePoint. For the last month or so I’ve been carrying around their August newsletter, chewing on one of the articles, by a woman named Yvonne. Here’s part of it:

Do you know anybody you would consider healthy? …is health important to God? What does being healthy mean? Are we healthy, and if so, what is the evidence?

We learn in the Old Testament that God required that sacrifices be without defect. In the New Testament Jesus was offered as a sacrifice for us – a lamb without blemish or defect 1 Peter 1:19). In Romans 12 we are told to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Psalm 103:3 teaches us our source of health is Jesus who “…forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.” Our health is a result of Jesus’ sacrifice; our journey as believers is one of learning to live in that reality.

Most definitions of being healthy contain the idea of it being a process of continuous adjustments to the demands of living. A healthy person is able to handle normal levels of stress and to recover from difficult situations. Physical, spiritual, or emotional perfections is not required for us to be considered healthy. Someone who is healthy is someone who is able to change with life’s circumstances. People who walk closely with God know this kind of healthy. They know that God is the source of their ability to adjust.

…Physical health cannot be maintained without a healthy immune system. The same is true for spiritual health. …It is only in intimate ongoing relationship with God that we are protected from the onslaught of the enemy’s attacks against our defenses. ..It requires a deep understanding of who God is, who we are in Christ, and a humbling knowledge of what we’ve been saved from. …When God is at work in a life there will be evidence of physical, spiritual, and emotional transformation. The fruit of healing is revealed as the fruit of the Spirit changes how we look, what we say, and what we do.

I had never really though about spiritual or emotional health in the same terms as physical health – that it could be ‘measured’ by one’s ability to change and respond to change, with a healthy immune system that can resist and recover from attacks. But it rings true, doesn’t it? Not that we want to set up some ideal of the Christian life as being one that doesn’t include sickness or suffering, or that walking with God means not having these things. But so many of our troubles are of our own making – or our own magnifying, at least.

So thankful for the grace of God in all this. He doesn’t say, “You idiot! Why don’t you get up and walk?!” He is gentle, and he is spirit, able to work in our inner being to empower, transform, and renew.

Another friend of mine shared in a recent sermon that he’s been struggling emotionally for the last 6-12 months. He lost some important people in his life – seemed like one right after the other. And he was expecting himself to just get over it, after all, he’s a pastor, shouldn’t he stop moping around? But he couldn’t seem to get past it, couldn’t get over it.

When it was time to take a vacation he went a few days early by himself. He was still miserable – exhausted, but unable to sleep. He went to church, and the preaching was bad and he didn’t like the music and the people were nice but they didn’t really mean it, he could tell. Oh, he knew it was him, not the church – he was in bad shape. It was like he was at the bottom of the well and nobody’s help, or love, could reach him.

One day he was standing on the end of the cliff and tempted to jump off. “You could be with your friends… you wouldn’t hurt anymore,” said the voices. "Brad, do not do this thing," said other voices. He cried out to God. And next thing he knew he was away from the cliff. And overcome by a great weariness. He stumbled his way back to where he was staying, laid down on the bed fully clothed, and slept for the next 18 hours. When he woke, he was no longer at the bottom of the well.

How does God respond to a suffering, confused, or rebellious heart? He notices, he sees it. He doesn’t ignore it. He hears its cries. He listens. And he answers.

1 comment:

culturemom4 said...

Wow, Marti! I was searching for info on you, as you'll be speaking here for Perspectives in February ( a la Shane B!) Your blog hit where God is taking me right now. Been reading Waking the Dead by J. Eldredge ( out in your area!) and the passage by Yvonne fits where our class discussion is going. Satan wants us to be unhealthy, disheartened, discouraged. Your friend, Brad, seems to have experienced it, too. Eldredge says a sent Jesus to give us our heart back. Not to play at religion, but to have a heart that is turned toward God and toward others, to connect.Good stuff