By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
Christmas Party food is always tasty, too tasty. Millions sign up for the local gym to try to lose the post-Christmas bulge. So many well-intended recruits are gone by January 31st. My wife Janice really cares for me. She shows her love by encouraging me to not give up going to the gym year round, eating healthy food, and taking vitamins. Thank God for health-conscious wives. Restoring health requires that I practice what I preach. As a Spanish proverb puts it, a man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.
Going to the gym two to three times a week for the past fourteen years is part of my ‘walking the walk’ in personal fitness. I feel healthier and younger now than a decade ago, having lost weight in the process. The Good Book tells us that even the youth grow weary, but they that wait on the Lord shall renew and restore their strength, rising up with wings like eagles, running and not being weary, walking and not fainting.
Part of what changed my behaviour was being rear-ended by a taxi. Dr. Paul Wiggins, while treating my aching back, said to me: “You need a personal trainer”. The next thing I knew, I was meeting with a personal trainer for six sessions, paid for by our auto insurance company.
Benjamin Franklin once said: “Health is man’s best wealth.” People often spend their health to obtain wealth, only to spend their wealth to obtain health. As Boomers are aging, we are sometimes understandably concerned that we may be going backwards in health rather than moving forward. Many seem to have fatalistically lost hope. But must aging always be a downward spiral? God promises to renew our youth like an eagle. What I am hearing from the Lord is “Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t give up on your dreams of finishing well. Why not choose to be fit? Why not choose to be healthier?”
Physical fitness is good, but by itself only goes so far. The well-known Washington DC author Mark Batterson twittered: “In my experience, physical disciplines like exercise and spiritual disciplines like prayer feed off each other.” Health is elusive. We are our own worst enemies. We want to be healthy. Yet we make choices such as too much food, too little exercise, and self-medication that cripple us and send us in the wrong direction. As a local Recreation Centre poster put it, “The hardest thing about exercise is to start doing it.”
Edward Stanley said it well: “Those who think they will not have time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” That is why Jesus asked: “Do you want to be well?” Why do we resist getting well? Why do we so often go backwards and not forwards? Why are we so often tempted to just let nature take its course? So many people die before their time. They may keep going physically, but their dreams and hopes have died. As Mark Twain put it, most men die at age 27. We just bury them at 72. My passion is to help a new generation of healthy leaders to discover and rediscover Jesus as the Great Physician who renews our youth like an eagle.
Healthy hearts and healthy minds lead to healthy lives, healthy choices and healthy families. John said, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all things may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 2) Health comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. As Dr. E. Stanley Jones put it:
The Spirit of God is health… A health tendency takes possession of us. We think health. We breathe health; we are health & we give health.
I will never forget the night that Lee Grady, former Editor of Charisma Magazine, prophesied about our former congregation St. Simon’s NV being a well-spring of healing with healing teams being raised up for body, soul and spirit restoration. Every worship service at St. Simon’s NV, whether traditional or contemporary, has a team ready to pray for healing. There is no contradiction between prayer, medicine and keeping fit. All can work together for our health. My prayer for those reading this article is that we will all be passionate about health and healing at all stages of our lives.
Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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