This past week was vacation week. We took some time off to visit Ohio for a few days, and to return our oldest granddaughter to her “rightful” parents!
During these few days away, my bride and I were able to spend time with each of our children and grandchildren – a remarkable feat since one of our children lives nowhere near Ohio! We were also able to visit and consult on the care for my aging mother-in-law, and even to (hopefully) renew a relationship-gone-sour with my wife’s only sibling her older sister.
When you combine all of those events with the renewing of relationships with great friends and also worshipping with a wonderful group of people, it was a fantastic week!
But one of the most interesting facts about this vacation was that the main topic of conversation with practically everyone was not historical, where we talked about the way things used to be. It was not familial, where we talked about the family situations and where our kids are and how they are doing and all.
The primary topic was not even about golf, which it has been in vacations past.
Yes, each of those topics were part of the conversational agenda this past week, but the main topic was, for the most part, avoirdupoisial – to coin a term! That is, the conversations for the whole week were consistently focused on weight and weight loss!
In the past year, I have successfully lost and maintained a significantly lower weight.
There were quite a few discussions about how I did it. And in almost every conversation, we discovered that others are indeed attempting to do the same thing – lose weight and maintain that lower weight.
It seems like EVERYONE is concerned about losing weight and keeping it off. And they are engaging in all kinds of activity in order to accomplish that task. No matter what the activity — whether it is walking or running, or competing in 5K’s, 10K’s, marathons, or as one of our 75-year-old friends does, triathlons – the truth is that 10,000 steps a day will keep your weight under control! I do not believe I have ever been on such a family vacation as that!
Some time ago, a dear friend and I were talking and he shared with me a bumper sticker he had once seen. It said, “IGNORE YOUR HEALTH, AND IT WILL GO AWAY!”
He and I were laughing about it at the time, but that saying is very definitely true!
That got me to thinking about life and health. All too often we take our good health for granted. We think it will go on forever.
This has been brought close to home for me personally in recent days. Of course, living here in a senior living community, health issues are not only major events in our lives and the lives of our friends here, but they seemingly control our lives. Scheduling appointments with various physicians here is a major calendar activity for most people.
One of my good friends here has been restricted in his golf play due to a series of 24 weekly appointments with a physical therapist to treat his hip problem. Another has experienced serious dental issues which have sidelined him. Then there are the numerous friends who are experiencing heart surgeries and/or cancer treatments.
All of these have caused me to stop and think about my own physical well-being and how much it is something I need to diligently watch.
You know, what that bumper sticker was saying is true not only for physical health, but it is true for spiritual health as well.
All too often, we think that spiritual issues are death-bed issues, or we naively treat them as a given. We tend to simply ignore the spiritual health in our lives and then blame God when bad things happen.
But the truth of the matter is that spiritually, just like physically, we need to pay attention to our health, to act proactively in our relationship with God, rather than reactively.
We need to take the time – we need to MAKE the time — to cultivate our walk with Him. Over and over again in the Scriptures we are told that we need to cultivate our “walk” with the Savior, that it just does not happen, and that if we ignore it, it will indeed go away!
For example, Jesus, in explaining his teaching in parables to His closest friends on earth, the twelve disciples, made this statement: “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” (Mark 4:24-25)
His point is simply that there is no such thing as marking time in the spiritual realm! One cannot decide to only go so far spiritually. If you do not cultivate your relationship with God, it will deteriorate, and you cannot expect Him to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” if you have ignored your relationship with Him.
The key then to our physical health is to make a plan and stick to it. Join the YMCA, and use the membership! Walk 10,000 steps a day. Eat wisely.
And likewise, in the spiritual realm, make a plan and stick to it. Pray regularly (more than just when you are in trouble!). Read the Bible daily! Study it diligently. Attend church often (again, more than just Christmas and Easter!)
And serve faithfully! And by all means, if you do not know the Savior, (not everyone does, you know!) trust Christ today!
Remember: “IGNORE YOUR HEALTH, AND IT WILL GO AWAY!”
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.