Daily Devotional LifeJourney Church (MCC)

Also Terminal

January 20th, 2012 • Category: Healthy Living

Are you in the process of learning to live healthier? Maybe your New Year’s resolution was to eat better, exercise, or in some other way improve your physical health? Join us for the next few days as we offer scripture, insight, and encouragement to help on that journey.

Today’s scripture: Philippians 1:19-26 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Keith Phillips):

Let me begin by telling you that I walk my dog four or five times a day, rather than shooing him out the back door to do his business. I climb stairs (four flights is my usual limit), rather than take the elevator. I cook my own meals, avoiding excessive salt, fat, and processed meats, rather than eat in restaurants (and when I do, it’s to be sociable, not because I’m hungry) or, God forbid, in fast food joints. And I’ve made a vow to never buy clothes any larger than what I wear right now.

I do want to take care of my body. It’s the only one I have, so far. That being said, I’m concerned about how America is such a youth-worshipping and death-denying culture, which goes double for my LGBTQ community. What other explanation is there for our insistence on coloring our hair, on wearing medically unnecessary contacts, and on maintaining unused gym memberships? What other explanation is there for our manic obsession with health care procedures, when no symptoms are present, just because we’re “supposed to”? What other explanation is there for personally producing negative social consequences because we want to live as long as possible, beyond the allotted “threescore and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years” (Psalm 90:10; AV)?

I’m old enough that my body no longer behaves like it used to. To get going in the morning takes a little longer. Strange aches and pains appear out of nowhere. I occasionally groan audibly, hoping the neighbors don’t hear and call 911, when I do yard work. And every once in a while my digestive system has a surprise for me, even though I eat plenty of roughage.

No matter how I care for it, my body is getting older and will surely die. So the spiritual question is: “Why the effort to be healthy?” Your answer may be different, but the apostle Paul and I agree that “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” or, as The Message paraphrases, “Life versus even more life! I can’t lose. . . . If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I would choose. Hard choice!”

I eagerly look forward to death. Quite frankly, it can’t come soon enough for me. But at the same time, I am an instrument of God in this world, a jar of clay containing God’s Holy Spirit to benefit humanity. I am God’s hands, feet, voice, heart for estranged people. And to be all of that requires a functioning physical body. For me, to live in this body means that I can be unashamedly out with regard to my witness of God’s power and grace.

In hospice, we talk about neither prolonging life nor hindering death. I like that, because I know, like our patients, that I am also terminal.

Thought for today: May the answer to my “why?”s always be: To glorify God, now and forever.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.

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