Written by Katie Harrell
A few months ago, I got married! The entire journey from dating to engagement to marriage has all been very exciting and challenging. Once Jake and I got engaged, we realized that we wanted to have a healthy marriage – emotionally, spiritually, and physically. As we looked at ourselves, we made a pact to start working out and taking better care of ourselves. It’s been a journey for both of us. But, it’s been much easier for my husband to drop the weight than it has been for me.
Ok, so I don’t know about you, but when I go to the gym, I work hard. I sweat (or glisten as my dear friend says). I use a variety of machines and work on all parts of my body. When I leave the gym, I feel so rejuvenated, happy, and sore. I feel proud of myself. I worked hard and I know it.
But, as soon as I get home, I step on the scale. And the number hasn’t changed. I look in the mirror and although I feel like I should have lost that 5 pounds, I don’t look any different. There’s no evidence of the work and dedication I just over the past 2 hours. I get discouraged, disappointed, and think to myself “I worked so hard, why hasn’t anything changed?!?”
Well aren’t we often the same way when it comes to Jesus? We spend time in His Word and it’s a great time, but when we don’t see immediate results, we are immediately discouraged and disbelieve that His Word has the power to actually change us.
Or perhaps we go on a special crash diet and work out, paying close attention to every detail for a week or so – much like a church retreat – we see results and change. Yet, when we go back into our comfortable environment and the stresses of the world come, we give in, and things sadly return to where they once were, and sometimes worse. Even more, in these times, instead of taking ownership of our own decisions and actions, we blame others, even God, for the relapse. “If I went to THAT gym (church) I would be healthier!” “If I tried THAT workout (small group, ministry, service project, etc.) I would be seeing so much more progress!” “If the music wasn’t so boring, I would be more excited to be there! (This one works for both analogies)”
We…well at least I will own that I do…make excuses as to why we aren’t progressing as well as we want to be. And sometimes it is out of our hands. When your body has been sitting stagnant for weeks, months, even years, it takes a while for it to start back up again. The same is true with our walk with the Lord. Although He is ready and willing to grow and transform your heart, you have to put some quality time back into knowing His love and character again before you will see a noticeable difference in your spiritual health.
So what is the secret? Much like a healthy physical body, our spiritual body needs daily, intentional transformation. It takes days of self-denial, but not a day-by-day, moment-by-moment decision to serve and love Christ more. We need prayer, time in His Word, fellowship with women of faith, service to those in need, quiet moments with Jesus, worship, and a heart that sees the beautiful woman God sees when He looks at you.
Yes, there will be moments when we lose our focus on what matters or make mistakes with a harsh word or a judgmental thought, but being healthy is about a lifestyle, a daily decision to choose something greater than what our instincts tell us. Being healthy isn’t always the easy option, but the benefits for you, your family, and circle of influence, far outweigh the challenge.
When I think of my struggles with both physical and spiritual health, the parable Christ told in Matthew 13:3-9 comes to mind:
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Don’t get me wrong, it takes work. Like a healthy physical body, it is hard to have a healthy spiritual body. The easy choice is to simply give up when you don’t see immediate results, but there are always results, seen or unseen, and God is working.
Be encouraged. Healthy living can start now. Be intentional. Work hard. Take it moment-by-moment. Avoid temptation. Celebrate victories. Have an accountability partner. Create for yourself good soil with which to grow and transform your whole body into the joyful, healthy woman God longs for you to be!