We are integrated beings.
Integration is embodied in the life of Christ. When He took His place in time and history, it is recorded for us that He experienced the physical (hunger, thirst, pain), the emotional (wept, abandonment on the cross), and the spiritual (temptations).
Made in His image, we, then, are integrated beings – body, mind, and soul.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.Mark 12:30
Scripture itself speaks to the integration of our being. As well, it tells us that which affects our spirit affects our body and that which affects our body affects our spirit.
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.Mark 14:38
As integrated beings, it stands to reason that our overall well-being is contingent upon our health in – not just one but – all three areas.
That’s a big job – being aware of and caring for 3 aspects of our personhood. Isn’t it wonderful that that God designed us for the task by building in helpful warning systems?
For instance, things like fever and pain serve as warning signals for our physical health. They alert us that something is wrong and needs to be treated. At their appearance, we generally know to take a fever reducer or see a doctor.
Similarly, strong emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, and depression can be warning signals for our mental/emotional health. (Please note that not all emotions are a warning signal to ill health and often there are other activated signals warning of the more serious of situations.) The point here is that one of the warning systems God has given to us in caring for our emotional well-being is the vast array of emotions we experience.
But what about our spiritual health? Are there warning signals that should sound alarm to a soul in need?
Some “State of Our Spiritual Health” Warning Signals
- Physically fatigued
- No desire for God
(Please note that just as it is with our emotions, these signals are simply indicators that something MAY need to be addressed.)
While reading the list, did you notice the overlap? The presence of physical and emotional warning signals certainly confirms the integration of our being. Doesn’t it?
Before we look at how we might better care for our spiritual well-being, I think it’s important for us to consider some of the possible contributing factors to its declining health.
Just as there can be contributing factors to physical health problems (poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and such) and to mental/emotional health issues (major life transition, stress, etc.), there are several contributing factors to an unhealthy spiritual life.
Three of the biggest are:
- The world around us. Just look around. Our current culture certainly isn’t teaching us to pay attention to the spiritual part of our being. Much of the focus in our culture is on the physical and mental aspects of our being. With much emphasis being placed on caring for “self,” I might add.
- We undervalue our soul. My dad used to tell me, “We will always find a way to make time for what is important to us.” In other words, “We make time for that which we value most deeply.” The stinging question before us then is, “If I’m allowing time with God to be crowded out of my day, how much do I truly value it?”
- Hurry. As one who lives by checklists and enjoys the feeling of accomplishment, one of the most helpful things I’ve ever read is that there is a world of difference between being busy and being hurried (Dallas Willard).
Being busy, Willard said, is an outward condition. It occurs when we have many things to do and by itself, it is not lethal.
On the other hand, being hurried is an inner condition, a condition of the soul. It means to be so preoccupied with myself and my life that I am unable to be fully present with God, or with others.Busy-ness migrates to hurry when we let it squeeze God out of our lives. Click To Tweet
The Example of Jesus
Are there times when your relationship with God gets crowded out in all your other stuff?
Look to Jesus, our Example. An integrated being, how did He maintain a healthy total well-being – body, mind, and soul? What did He do to keep His spiritual life from being crowded out in all the very important work He was here to accomplish? How did He go about caring for His most important relationship?
It is recorded in Scripture that Jesus often went away to a solitary place. To avoid fatigue, to spend time with His Father, Jesus rested.
As we consider the value of REST to our spiritual well-being, it’s important for us to note that when He did so, Jesus often left important work and/or large crowds of people with needs – to rest.Jesus knew the power of a rested soul. Click To Tweet
Made in His image, our soul craves rest – even if we must leave “important” work to get it.
Jesus rested and He replenished.
Again, looking at life of Jesus as our Example, we see that He engaged in certain practices. Practices that allowed God’s grace to replenish His spirit.
Jesus prayed (Matthew 14:23).
He fed His mind with Scripture (Luke 2:42-47; Matthew 4:4).
During His earthly ministry, He participated in corporate worship.
Jesus had circles of close friends.
He took long walks…
… and more.
“I and no one else am responsible for the condition of my soul.”John Ortberg, Soul Keeping
Is it time to pull away from the work, from the crowds, from all the other “stuff” of life…
…to REST and REPLENISH?
Our health and well-being – body, mind, and soul – depend on a strong connection with God, a vibrant spiritual life. For He alone is the One who nourishes our soul.