Okay, who got a Peloton bike or a Bowflex set for Christmas? How about a gym membership?
These things are very popular gifts for those who are resolving to get in better physical shape in the new year. And after eating our way through December, it’s common to resolve to improve our health.
Some will even want to attend to their mental health, perhaps through counselling, and that can be a good thing as well.
Trouble is, we often focus on our physical health, and possibly even our mental health, while ignoring our spiritual health.
As I’m going to talk about on Sunday at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, we can and should pay attention to our spiritual health as we look to a new year. Just as we can’t ignore our physical or mental health, we can’t ignore our spiritual health, either. In many respects, as Pete Scazzero says, our emotional health is tied to our spiritual health.
How can we work on our spiritual health, which affects the rest of who we are as people?
The best way is to understand our spiritual health as a relationship with God, and then to handle that relationship the way we would handle growing any relationship: time spent together, and conversation.
We spend time with the Lord by sitting still (or even going for a walk) intentionally in his presence. Being mindful that the Lord is with us whatever we do, wherever we go, has an impact on our spiritual health.
As for the conversation, we can talk with God in prayer, about anything and everything; after all, he already knows what’s going on in our lives, and like any parent, he delights in hearing us talk about our lives.
But that’s only a one-sided conversation.
We hear God speak to us through his Word. Read your Bible every day. Listen for God to speak to you as you read the ancient truths of Scripture.
Create a reading plan for yourself, or borrow one from any number of online sources. Each day’s passage doesn’t have to be lengthy. In fact, I am not an advocate for the “Bible in a year” plans; forcing yourself to get through such a lengthy volume in a year, while entirely attainable, may leave you rushing through a passage, “just to get it done”, when perhaps the Lord wants you to sit on it for a bit. There have been times when the Lord has left me on the same passage for multiple days at a time so that I can absorb the richness of what he is telling me. Do have a Bible reading plan, but hold it loosely; it may need to spill into the next year.
As you read, be sure to allow silence, giving space to God to speak into your heart as you read his Word.
Of course, there are other spiritual disciplines that you can practise, too, and I’ve written about them before. But Scripture and prayer are the two most important.
This Sunday brings a new year, and it can bring a new you: when you consider your health, don’t ignore your physical and mental health, but also keep in mind your spiritual health; eternity is a long time, and you’ll want to be in practice for eternity.
“[A]nyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5.17, NLT).