Published on 16 February 2021
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2020 was a challenging year to say the least. There had never been a time where the predicaments faced around the world were so aligned in circumstance and timing.
Having now crossed over into 2021, in Melbourne, Australia, we are currently blessed to be out of immediate COVID danger, but not before going through months of frustration and uncertainty as we faced seemingly dangerous spikes in deaths and cases in March, 2020, and then again in August, 2020. As a result, significant adjustments to our lifestyle were required.
On a personal level, I quickly found myself unable to do many things as we endured two consecutive lockdown periods—some of the toughest in the world at that time! For starters, we could not attend church or travel internationally. At one point, we could not even drive more than 5kms away from where we lived! Work had to take place from home which meant that the way business activities took place had to be altered significantly. The kids were at home while work from home arrangements were in place, adding further pressure to our marriage and parenting! Business was particularly challenging as many planned projects and jobs were either cancelled or delayed. We could not eat out at all and there were hardly any forms of entertainment available, with concerts and the movies closed to the public. Gym and the golf courses were also closed!
For a season, we were reduced to the basic essentials of life.
That said, as I begin to reflect on the year that has been, many of these challenges, though frustrating, actually yielded positive outcomes. In retrospect, I am so thankful for how 2020 panned out, with areas of growth resulting from the necessary pruning and adjustments that I went through. Throughout this year, I know that there has been acceleration in so many areas of my life and despite the challenges, I have never been so peaceful and at ease.
I attribute all this to the hand of God over all of my circumstances, but also, to the active stewarding of my soul and spirit. In the middle of the chaos, I fought hard to stay spiritually ‘fit’. I believe that just as we must fight to remain physically fit in our bodies to stay healthy, we must also intentionally fight for our spiritual health— building strength into our spirit man so that we can continue to thrive in the most challenging of life’s circumstances!
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.
In this verse, the Bible says our body is a ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ and we know that we need to keep this temple in order if we are to house the Holy Spirit. Although the verse was mainly referring to physical purity, I am challenged to extend the self-upkeep to our minds and our soul. Are we maintaining our temple— not just in a physical sense— but also ensuring that it truly is a temple of the Holy Spirit in all aspects? We not only need to keep our physical temple in pristine condition, but more importantly, our spiritual temple— our hearts, our minds and our soul.
As we enjoy summer in Australia, I cannot help but acknowledge that we are the ‘wellbeing generation’. We see wellness centres and gyms filled with loyal customers. Pilates and Barre classes full. Even running clubs are way more popular than book clubs in our generation. According to Forbes, the global fitness industry is now worth 100 billion dollars! We now wear fitness gear as fashion staples, we download HIIT apps for home workouts and fitness influencers are leading the pack on various social media platforms!
We are drawn to the statement,“health is wealth”, so we take supplements, exercise, adhere to strict diet regimes and increase sleep and rest as we strive towards living a ‘healthy’ lifestyle.
As much as I am an advocate for healthy lifestyle, I also believe that principles which manifest in the natural realm can have even greater application in the spiritual realm. In Matthew 18:18, the Bible says that what we ‘loose’ on Earth, is ‘loosed’ in Heaven. So if we are fighting to live a truly healthy lifestyle, can you imagine the supernatural benefits and power available to us when we decide to fight for our spiritual health?
The thing is, like health and fitness, spiritual health doesn’t come naturally. We have to make an effort to establish and maintain the necessary discipline to be able to enjoy the benefits of a healthy spirit. I want to remind us of some key areas that we should focus on in order to stay spiritually fit:
1. Drink living water
But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
We have always been told about the importance of water in our bodies. We can quickly feel the effects of dehydration after just a few hours of not drinking water. In fact, we can survive without food for a long time, but we will die within 3 days if we don’t have water!
Jesus says the spiritual water He has for us will quench our thirst forever and create a spring of water within us. We are sustained by His Presence and this ‘living water’ is given in such abundance that it can overflow to the people around us!
We need to continuously run to this source of spiritual, ‘living’ water. Far too often we try to find meaning and belonging elsewhere, deceptively thinking that our spiritual thirst can be quenched by worldly pursuits. Jesus reminds us that these things will only offer temporary relief but that He alone is the source of water that will quench every kind of thirst, forever.
2. Watch what you eat
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people,for those who fear him lack nothing.
Just as we are watchful of our food intake to maintain physical health, we need to be aware of what we are feeding our spirit! In the physical, it may seem more enjoyable to indulge in delicious food like fried chicken, potato chips and ice cream, when compared to feeding ourselves with the right nutrients found in foods like vegetables and fruits. However, it isn’t long before we see the results of this unhealthy diet on our waistlines and overall health.
In the same way, it is easier in the moment to indulge in things that are no good for our spirits in the long run, leaving us feeling unhealthy and unhappy. For example, Netflix bingeing sessions may feel exhilarating in the moment, but leave us feeling empty and guilty about the time we wasted. Being constantly engrossed in the news can be debilitating as we fill our spirits with fear and worry. Engaging in gossip may lead to breakdown in relationships, and sometimes, even the seemingly innocent activity of reading a popular secular book may even lead to us questioning our faith!
We must be alert to what we may be unintentionally planting in our spirit by diligently watching what we consume on a daily basis! Instead, let us fill our spirit man with the things of God.
Are we consuming from the right sources when feeding our spirit? Shouldn’t we be consuming the Bible with the same consistency that we consume our daily food? Shouldn’t we be feeding our spirits daily with praise and worship, Bible-based podcasts, sermons and Christian books?
I am so thankful to Planetshakers Church for ensuring that there was always a ‘buffet’ of spiritual food available to us throughout the worst of the pandemic. From making church services available to us online during lockdown to producing God-centred programming such as PS nightlife (link to youtube) , Friends of Planetshakers and Planet Business interviews, I always knew that there were nuggets of nutrients available to me when I needed them the most!
3. Exercise your Spirit
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, we are constantly told to exercise. Keeping active is a common encouragement that we often hear. We see ‘fit’ people walking around and we are inspired to get moving and get exercising to get our bodies ready for summer. We hit the gym, go for runs and do HIIT sessions with the vision of maintaining the health of our bodies.
If exercising is such an important priority in our lives for our physical health, how much more important is it to have a spiritual exercise regime? As believers, we need to be cautious and conscious of being good stewards of the Holy Spirit and the anointing that we have been gifted. Make no mistake, this requires constant effort and consistently good choices to live a godly life. Spiritually speaking, I see common ground between exercising and serving.
The truth is that serving is hard, just like running a marathon is hard. Turning up to volunteer is hard, just as turning up to the gym takes motivation. Attending our small group after a long day at work can feel like a chore, but just like physical exercise, the benefits of remaining planted in the House of God and attending with a heart of servitude, always reaps incredible benefits in our lives.
Admittedly, I have turned up to church services reluctantly, only to leave filled and enriched. We think that serving others is just about GIVING our time, energy and resources, but forget that our giving always positions us to RECEIVE. God’s generosity and goodness is confronting. God always out-gives us, replenishing, refilling and empowering us to serve others even more!
So stay planted in the House of God and keep serving!
4. Rest in the Lord
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
When it comes to our spiritual health, it is crucial that we learn to consciously rest in the Lord. We must be quick to surrender our worries and lay them at His feet as we intentionally spend time with Him. Just as we set time aside to rest physically, we ought to set time aside to have encounters with God. He is constantly waiting for us to reach out for Him to refill us with His Spirit and ‘living water’.
As we rest in the Lord, we take on His light yoke. Jesus did the heavy lifting for us by giving His life so that we could have ‘life to the full’. We simply need to come in agreement with this truth and embrace the good work that the Lord had already done for us. All we have to do is learn the unforced rhythms of grace! What a promise!
5. Training Partner
In fitness, we see the importance of doing things as a group. We feel empowered as we do group classes. We are somehow able to push beyond our limitations as we are encouraged by that person next to us in that HIIT circuit to not give up, and we are less inclined to make poor choices when we are accountable to others.
In fact, top sports people build strong teams and communities around them to maintain and enhance performance. At his peak, Arnold Schwarzenegger trained with his competitors and peers because they kept him in check and continuously pushed him beyond his limitations. We know that there is strength in having a community of people around us to continuously support us and spur us on.
Personally, I have embarked on many fitness seasons in the past, all of which I failed to consistently endure and sustain. This year, to change the parameters, I engaged with a personal trainer whom I could be accountable to. As a result, I was more disciplined, I pushed harder and ultimately ended up with better results.
There is a saying that says, if you hang out with turkeys, you will become a turkey, but if you hang out with eagles, you will become an eagle. I am so blessed to belong to the Planet Business community where I get to rub shoulders with ‘giants of faith’ and outstanding ‘marketplace ministers’. I know I can always reach out in times of trouble as they spur me on in my faith. Small groups are also such an important setting to have like-minded, faith-filled people around us that we can call family and who constantly encourage us to believe for more. Our spiritual community is so important to keep us accountable while pushing us to press on in God.
So hang out with eagles, not turkeys!
Over the course of 2020, I embraced a new lifestyle for myself, focusing on my physical health which gave birth to the revelations within this blog post. I started exercising more than I ever had before and made sure that I had a healthy diet.
During stage 4 lockdowns, I found myself in a situation where I had to carry my children down 14 flights of stairs during a fire evacuation. As I put my daughter on my shoulders and carried my son down the stairs of our apartment building, I suddenly realised that maybe all of the healthy lifestyle habits cultivated over the last 12 months had produced the energy and stamina I needed for times like this. God spoke to me in that moment, encouraging me that as I focus on my spirit health with equal intentionality, I will be ready to ‘carry’ people around me in times of need. We can carry our families, our small group members, our friends and work colleagues through hardship as we continue to be intentional about the health of our spirits and make ourselves available to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Lastly, I just want to encourage us all to persevere through the hard times as we live out our lives. As we steward our ‘spirit health’, we will be ready for the trials that come our way. As we face those trails, we will discover that our capacity is stretched and our endurance increased. So let's keep fighting for spiritual health so we are ready for anything that the enemy may bring. Let’s vigilantly and intentionally watch our spiritual diet, drink daily from the ‘living water’, passionately serve others and our local church, learn to rest in the Lord and surround ourselves with like-minded people who will help us be the best that we can be and walk victoriously in our God-given destiny!
Know that the testing of your faith produces endurance!
Planetbusiness Leader & Entrepreneur
- It is important to look after your spiritual well being, just like your physical health. Through building spiritual strength, we can continue to thrive in life’s challenging circumstances.
- Just like our physical bodies, we need to watch what we consume on a daily basis. We need to be intentional with what we plant in our spirit.
- As we give our time, energy and resources through serving; God always replenishes and refills us; empowering us to serve even more.
- It is crucial to consciously rest in the Lord. It is easy to think that working harder will yield the results we want, when weariness often makes it worse. As we rest in the Lord, we take on His light yoke.
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