Well, today was one of these days when I felt weaker in body than on other days. Since taking time off and now stepping back from parish ministry through ill health I look back over the years and see how unhealthy my attitude has been towards my body’s well being! Perhaps that was fuelled by reading biographies of Christians who seem to disregard their bodily health for the sake of the gospel and were looked upon as heroes of the faith to be emulated. Somewhere along the way I picked up the feeling that to be a worthy servant of the Lord, I needed to work myself to an early grave. However in the Book of Proverbs we are told by Solomon that “it is better to be a live dog than a dead lion.” Look after your body. Make sure it gets rest when it is tired or unwell. Observe the Principle of the Sabbath.
I want to share something the Lord said to me earlier on in my illness. After a few days in hospital I was trying to force the pace of recovery not only from surgery but from an infected wound. He simply said, “Kenny, listen to the distress of your body.” If it is not irreverent to say this, there was almost a pleading in the tone of His Voice, almost an exasperation born of His love for me that I was ignoring messages my body was trying to give me, that I was demanding too much of myself. It was a serious word that I knew I could not ignore. (How do I know it was The Lord? I just know.) For me practically that means learning to live within capacity, and not feeling ashamed or a weakling or a failure when I think of the champions of old, or have days when I cannot do or achieve as much as I want. In saying all this, please know I am not devaluing the suffering of our persecuted brothers and sisters down through the centuries and in our own day whose loyalty to Jesus has led to the early death of martyrdom. That is Holy Ground on which we should silently stand with bare feet, and bowed heads. I am thinking rather about early deaths that were the result of misplaced and wrong spirituality. In the words of Spock from Star Trek , which actually were stolen from the Bible, “May you live long and prosper!”
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