Life is becoming faster and more complex. Pressures and challenges are increasing, easily sapping our joy and peace. Personal wellbeing is vital as it provides us with the energy to carry out our God-given purpose in life. Over the holiday season we have been sharing a series of messages entitled Body Soul Spirit – a holistic approach to health, looking at some principles of physical health, emotional health, relational health, spiritual health and financial health from God’s Word. The series has been about “healthy living in stressful times”. God is interested in all of our life (see 1 Thess.5:23-24. Mark 12:29-30). Every area is important and each area influences the others.
“Balanced living” is about constant adjustment. Like a pilot of a small engine aeroplane, we need a destination and a flight plan. However, once we are in the air, we may be “off track” up to 90% of the time - due to wind, rain or turbulence. The key is to receive constant feedback – from the external environment, our own instrument panel and the control tower – and then make adjustments. Life is just like that. We drift from time to time and get “off track” occasionally. What it takes is the courage to keep making adjustments to get back on track.
One day Isaac went out of the house and meditated in the field (Gen.24:63). He pulled aside from the busyness of agricultural life to reflect. The Hebrew word translated “meditate” means: to muse, commune, mutter or speak with oneself. Other related words mean: to ruminate, roll over in the mind, ponder, analyze, study, or imagine; to contemplate thoughtfully, to rehearse in one’s mind, to concentrate; and to reflect, to study, to consider deeply.
Unfortunately, when some Christians hear the word “meditation” today they may think of an exotic Eastern cult, something New Age, a Zen master, Buddhism, or someone in a yoga pose. Remember, that Satan never creates anything; he only counterfeits what God creates. For instance, God created the rainbow, not the New Age movement. Meditation has strong Jewish and Christian roots. Isaac lived 100s of years before the Buddha!
The Old Testament Scriptures are flooded with the concept and practice of meditation (see Joshua 1:8. Psalm 1:2; 19:14; 63:6; 143:5). It was part of the Israelites daily life and their weekly Sabbath. They meditated on God, his Word, his works, creation and their own life. Jesus was also an example of someone who valued pulling aside from the busyness of the crowd and spending time in prayer and meditation. His disciples were urged to do the same. Christian history has been blessed by both the active and the contemplative traditions of spirituality. Both are valuable.
Today, even modern science, health and the business world are seeing the benefits of meditation. A recent TIME magazine article highlighted ‘distraction’ as the dominant condition of our age and ‘mindfulness’ as the solution. It revealed that over 50% of American adults check work messages on the weekend. 40% check work messages while on holiday. The average American teen sends and receives over 3,000 text messages a month. Technology can be helpful but it also has downsides (e.g. mobile phone video clip). “Mindfulness” is about learning to be present in this moment, not living in the past (which tends towards regret) or the future (which tends towards anxiety). No wonder the Psalmist said, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Many of us need to slow down and avoid the hurry sickness of our age.
God often asked questions when in conversation with people (See Gen.3:8-9). Jesus, although he had so much to say, often used questions when talking with people (see John 1:35-38). Precision questions go straight to the heart. Jesus used questions not because he needed an answer but in order to bring a person to a new level of understanding. Questions help build relationships, are a key to creativity and problem-solving, enhance education and learning, and are an aid to personal growth.
As you review this series, for each area of health, ask yourself: (1) What is my Goal, (2) What is my current Reality, (3) What are my Options, and (4), What Will I do about it? Questions such as this can be a catalyst to help us GROW. After all, experience is not the best teacher; only reflection on experience turns experience into insight. Use the power of questions: What did you learn today? What would you do differently if you lived today over again? What do you want to say to God? What does He want to say to you? Ask What, How and Why?
The apostle Paul spoke a lot about transformation (see Rom.12:1-2). Transformation is a result of God’s love not a means to it. God loves you just as you are – warts and all, yet he loves you too much to leave you as you are. Transformation usually occurs over a process time (much like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly) and is a partnership between God and us. It requires a change of thinking (re-scripting the stories we tell ourselves) and a change of habits (which are more often replaced rather than eliminated). Our daily choices can have a big impact. Genuine change is hard … but it is possible!
Remember, “what you tolerate you will never change”. Don’t put off until tomorrow a change God is calling you to make today (see Pharaoh in Exodus 8:8-10). Like the Prodigal Son, come to your senses, turn and see how God meets you once you start walking towards him.
As we take regular time to meditate, ask ourselves some honest questions, and consider the transformation God desires for us, we position ourselves for genuine change, as we make the adjustments God is calling us towards.
Sample Reflection Questions
- Which message or topic from the Body Soul Spirit series was most challenging to you?
- Consider the concept and practice of meditation? What comes to your mind? What has been your experience with this spiritual discipline?
- In what ways are we a distracted generation? How has technology enhanced our lives and in what ways has it interfered?
- Reflect on the GROW model of coaching. How can you use this in your own personal growth?
- Why do you think Jesus used so many questions in conversation? He even answered many questions with another question.
- Why are questions so powerful?
- Think of an area of your life where you saw a genuine change. What were some of the contributing factors?
- Reflect on the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). The Father didn't go after the Son (like the shepherd searching for the sheep and the woman searching for the coin). Why? What principles of change can we learn from this story?
- Consider the statement “what you tolerate you will never change”.
- Write down one area of change you would like to see in your life this year? Pray about it.