So some thoughts floated through my mind at the gym. They really came down to this; there is a lot of effort that goes into keeping yourself fit. I don’t suppose that thought will be a surprise to you. But I began to think of the massive industry that keeping our bodies healthy has become with the involvement of a lot of people giving advice in all aspects of looking after the body.
Drive down to the beach near where I live on a Saturday morning, particularly in the Summer, and you will see a large number of people flocking to the coast for the chance to run with others along the seafront. Weekend papers and magazines are also often full of exercise tips; how to eat healthier ideas and general body-care information.
Now there is nothing wrong with that.
I was at the gym myself after all, attempting to keep my body healthy and fit. But is that all there is to us? We are more than a shell, one that will wear out at some point. It is generally agreed by most that we are also a soul and a spirit. The soul is often described as consisting of the mind, will and emotions; the spirit is the human spirit that is eternal. How do we look after these parts of “us?” The massive recognition (and increase?) in mental health issues shows me that we struggle in these areas perhaps even more than the physical ones.
OK. So we have things like Mindfulness and meditation. We have short confidence building posts on Social Media which tell us we are better than what we feel about ourselves, to be strong and to remember how special we are. These are meant to leave us feeling good about ourselves so we can walk head high and ignore what comes against us, to declutter the mind and help with stress and anxiety. However, I believe that these “remedies” have a problem, they are based on human ideas and beliefs. In the end we end up back with the same lies and struggles that invade our souls, minds and spirits.
When I practice “Mindfulness” my thoughts are focussed on one thing, or should I say, one person. He is the most loving, but also the most powerful One I can look to. When I focus on Him (I call it prayer) I find that not only do I have the truths that He has spoken about me (that I am His son, that He loves me, that He is always with me, that I carry the Presence of Almighty God wherever I go,) but also there is a loving power that envelops me with His Presence and strength that beats any thought up strategy into a very poor second place.
You see we can speak positive things about ourselves, focus on the good and develop positive strategies, most of which are good and helpful and if it works for you, that's great. But my focus on Jesus and walking in His Presence every day gives me a joy that is more than pretence. I have been doing this for long enough now to know that He is more than a good feeling or a positive thought; He is real.
Now that means that I have to take seriously what He wants of me and how He wants me to be. But that isn’t a big deal when I know how much I am loved and what Jesus purchased for me at the cross. The more I get to know Him the more I just want to do what He wants. The more I do what He wants the more I find peace and joy. It’s not the focus, it’s the by-product of a relationship that demands everything but is so worth it! He is the “Prince of Peace,” the one who demands we give everything but who gives us Himself in exchange. We don’t walk in that peace through a passing connection with the Gospel but by an ongoing focused faith walk towards the person of Jesus. When we put Him in the centre of our lives, believe He is who He says He is and that we also are who He says we are we walk into a different dimension of living.
There is a saying that, “if we believe nothing we will believe anything,” and let me tell you there are some strange ideas out there! Some are just weird, others can be downright dangerous.
But walking with Jesus is transforming. The Bible says, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12 v2. ) In other words, what you think on, mull over in your mind, can be old rubbish or new life. When you think over what He says about you and give yourself to that and to Him you are changed from the inside out. Can’t be bad.
Can I encourage you to put all your “chips” on the table. Soak yourself in the truth He says about you and spend quality time in His Presence. You will never regret it.