Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Coughing My Way Closer to Christ


I've coughed so long that I can't think of anything to write about except coughing. Not exactly a godly topic, I know, but that's where I am.

I typed half a page and deleted it, tried again, deleted it. That went on for several times. Finally, I decided to try some alliteration, a literary technique I dearly love, to come up with a topic.


Coughing starts with a C. I needed some more C words, but all I could think of was Christ. Coughing for Christ. Nope. Coughing and Christ. Nope. 


Coughing my way to Christ. It seemed a ridiculous title for a blog post, but I was ready to try anything. 


As it turns out, my coughing did drive me closer to Christ. In desperation, I've prayed my heart out about my illness. In a deeper way, it drove me to Jesus during my quiet time, too.


I'm working through a book by Lorraine Hill, Deepening Your Worship. This week, the topic is being a living sacrifice. Yesterday, the title of our lesson was "Presenting Our Bodies." I read that title and laughed. My body doesn't seem very presentable right now. 


As I studied the Scriptures and answered the questions, one thing became very clear. I haven't been taking good care of my body, and that's part of why it's not working well now. 


I've told myself that I eat right, exercise, and avoid all those things I shouldn't do. That's true. Most of the time. 


For the last eight months, though, I haven't eaten right, exercised, or rested, at last not consistently. The pounds I've gained are evidence of that. The most health-conscious actions I've taken are to take vitamins and avoid things I shouldn't do. 


Instead, I've worked hard at the work of missions. Of course, that's what you do when you start a new life. You try to get it up and running. 


There's a time-constraint, too. I have a certain period of time to get my ministry going and funded. It's going, but not yet fully funded. I can hear the clock ticking, so I've tried to work hard, then harder. Be more productive. Be tireless.


You probably already know this, but that's not exactly a Christ-centered methodology. I'm not racing a clock for funding. I'm depending on the Lord Jesus Christ, king of the universe, to supply my needs by prompting His people to give. Duh. He's never failed me yet. 


If I'm dependent upon Him, I'm not really dependent upon my ability to work around the clock. 


I haven't said I was depending on me, not even to myself, but I've wanted to be sure those who partner with me financially feel like I'm doing my part. I don't want them to wonder where their money went.


According to Romans 12:1, the way to truly worship God is to give Him my body as a living sacrifice. In an odd way, I thought that's what I was doing. Maybe it wasn't. Maybe fear has driven me right into a kind of physical near-collapse.


Of course it might be overreacting to a tough virus, but I believe there's some truth in all my rambling.


If we want to truly worship God, we'll present our bodies to Him as living sacrifices. If we present our bodies, we want them to be well maintained. We sure don't want to offer God a battered, poorly cared-for bag of fat and bones. Do we? 


I'm not recommending Twiggy-slim bodies or surgically sculptured faces or figures. I'm advocating for sensible, healthy choices on a regular basis. I'm talking to myself first and foremost, but we could probably all use the reminder.


Perhaps part of being a living sacrifice includes sacrificing our desire for an easy (sedentary) lifestyle, dessert, fried food, and fast food. Perhaps being a living sacrifice means we choose regular exercise, a healthy, mostly-plant-based diet, and rest, because those are the choices that best maintain the bodies God has given us. 

Ouch. 


I have some work to do. 


If I'm ever going to do it, I have to start now. While I'm coughing. And I have. I've rested. I've begun to adjust my diet. I'm lengthening my sleep. When I can breath again, I'll resume exercising. 


If we're going to do this work of offering a living sacrifice of our bodies, perhaps we all have some work to do. Take a moment to ask our Lord what changes He'd like to see in your lifestyle. 


Our goal should be to maintain the bodies God has given us to the best of our abilities. What changes do we need to make to accomplish that goal? Why not get started today?


"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship." Romans 12:1 niv

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