Just yesterday I caught myself looking for my hat. Which was on my head at the time.
I’m sure this has happened to you, right?
Sometimes we search for things that are already there. This is true of the spiritual life. It’s built into us yet we can spend a lifetime searching for it rather than recognizing and cultivating it.
Learn a lesson from the physical life. If you want to stay alive, just breathe. In and out, in and out. So simple, but a life-and-death act. The respiratory system is to the body what God is to the spirit. Spiritual breathing takes more effort though.
Hold your breath for a minute or more and you’ll be gasping for air. Somehow we think that cutting ourselves off from God is OK. Yet our spirits are gasping for air.
Breathing is a good start, but spiritual health requires a checklist of things that you do to stay alive, spiritually. Here are five that work for me…

  • Community

I don’t have to tell you that community is more than having people around. You can be as lonely in a crowd as in a corner.
My friend, Joe, had battled depression his whole life and chose loneliness over community. One night he decided, “Enough!” He showed up at church the next Sunday and took the first step on the path to community. He is now part of two small groups and serves as a deacon.
His depression is in remission!

  • Accountability

I hate this. I really do, and the devil would have it no other way! Just leave me alone with my thoughts, let me do whatever I want… and stop looking over my shoulder!
You don’t have to love accountability, just see how important it is. Think of “accountability” not as being surrounded by police, but rather by people you can count on and who count on you.
Get it? – A-Count-Ability
These are your friends who care enough about you to tell you the truth. As the scripture says, “faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

  • Serenity

For me this is an alone thing. I am by nature and introvert so it’s easier for me to draw near to God when I’m alone, but it’s as important and more difficult for you extroverts.
You’re probably familiar with the Serenity Prayer.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
As I have grown older I’ve learned that there are…
some things I can’t change and need to accept.
some things I can change with courage.
sometimes I just need wisdom.
It’s a crazy life! A little serenity goes a long ways.

  • Family

I learned the importance of family in my last course at seminary. We had gathered to hear a popular local pastor speak to us about ministry, expecting he would tell us how to do it.
Instead he told the story of how he almost lost his marriage and his church doing the work of “ministry.” It was not what we expected to hear. It was exactly what we needed to hear.
After that class, I went back to our apartment, gave my wife a hug and promised her that I would never have to learn that lesson twice; that our marriage and our family would always come before the “work of ministry.”
Over the years I have reminded myself that what I do as a husband, a father (and now a grandfather) matters more than most of the other things in life.

  • Responsibility

Not long ago I was meeting with a young man recently married and recently converted to Christianity. He wondered to me what his “ministry” might be. I asked him if he knew the meaning of the word. He didn’t. I explained that it simply meant service and that he had among the greatest of all ministries: loving his wife.
Silence.
I showed him the passage in Ephesians 5 where the Apostle Paul compares the husband/wife relationship to that of Christ and the Church. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her.”
Wow! An awesome privilege and responsibility.
It’s like that hat on the head. I try not to search for ministries until I’ve been responsible in those nearest me.
So if you’ve made it to the end of this post, do your spirit a favor and start breathing: in and out, in and out.

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