What’s your secret? How do you stay so healthy? my friend asked, noting I hadn’t been sick all winter.
Ooh. Right into my wheelhouse. Because health and fitness are some of my favorite topics and I do have a few secrets. None of which, incidentally, involve dietary supplements, protein powder or organic juicing; some of which involve intermittent fasting, everyday friendship, and every other day push-ups.
And since today is my “golden birthday” -44 on 4/4- I’ll take full advantage to tell you one of my “secrets.” One the pathways to the good health I’ve enjoyed to this ripe old middle age.
But before I do, I must give credit where credit is due.
Because the first and last word on health has got to be grace.
It is in Him we live and move and have our being. Because He is our life and the length of our days. And His word has given us life. (Acts 17:28, Deuteronomy 30:20, Psalm 119:50)
Any measure of health is a gift from God.
Because the LORD forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases, redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with steadfast love and mercy. He satisfies me with good so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:3-4).
Means To Health
Not to guarantee it, but to go to places where God’s grace flows. You’re more likely to get sunshine on Sanibel Island than in Seattle. God has revealed certain channels through which he regularly pours out his favor, David Mathis writes. And we’re foolish not to take his word on it.
Just like we can’t force electricity or water to flow our direction, we can’t force health. But God has given us circuits to connect and pipes to open and trails to hike. Pathways to power, water and health should he send them.
Our God is lavish in his grace, often liberally dispensing his favor without even the least bit of cooperation and preparation on our part. But he also has his regular channels. And we can routinely avail ourselves of these revealed paths of blessing, or neglect them to our detriment.
Health is a blessing. And going outside avails us of that blessing.
The Secret: Vitamin Sea (or just a walk around the block)
Physical health and spiritual health are closely intertwined. Very closely. A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).
So when I talk about this secret to health, I am talking about both. This pathway is a means to spiritual and physical health.
“Have you been outside today?” is subtitled, “The Spiritual cost of Isolation from Creation.” In it, John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris hail the spiritual benefits of basking in the great outdoors.
Hear them make the case in the rest of this post.
Have you had your nature fix today?
One of the defining features of God’s Word is how often it points us to God’s world.Much of Scripture, in fact, assumes a level of understanding about nature. So, it would seem, if we fail to go outdoors, if we fail to experience and engage in God’s creation, our faith could suffer.
Nearly every book of the Bible is bursting with references to creation, chronicling in soaring prose the making of the universe, identifying God’s covenant promise with colors in the sky, and inviting us to gaze with Father Abraham at the starry hosts, where an even greater promise was written.
The psalmist compares the longing of his soul for God with the thirst of a deer running to water, fully expecting his readers to get the word picture! He sings of the heavens’ divine declaration, he praises the Lord for making mankind ruler of “all flocks and herds…animals of the wild…birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea…”John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris
The Birds And Beasts Will Teach You
“Ask the beasts, and they will teach you,” exclaims Job, “the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”
The Bible at length promises that the consummation of history, like its beginning, will take place in a garden-city atop a mountain, with a river of life and trees whose leaves are to heal the nations….
Faced with this forest of references, it’s hard to see how someone who never spends time outside could fully grasp things the Scripture wants us to. Today, the benefits of modern technology have effectively cut us off from the natural world and the general revelation of God that it offers, perhaps more than ever before in history.John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris
There are costs to this insulation. Last May, the Washington Post reported that children today spend less time in unstructured outdoor play than any prior generation which, research indicates, results in worse school performance, less creativity, higher levels of obesity, fewer friends, and increased rates of depression and hyperactivity. Even more critically, the world kids experience today bears little resemblance to the backdrop of the Bible.
Writing at The Gospel Coalition, Scott Martin calls this modern isolation from creation not only physically, but spiritually dangerous. Citing studies demonstrating how time in nature reshapes our brains, he suggests that our manmade worlds of concrete and climate control rob us not only of the practical vocabulary to understand Scripture, but actually make unbelief easier.
Thankfully, there’s a simple solution: Go outside!John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris
Path To Life
Now I realize I’m a privileged, living in the SE Wisconsin countryside and richly blessed to take a holiday at the sea every couple of years.
But even if you live the city or go to the sea, you can go out and look at the sky. You can be intentional. You can rouse yourself and gaze at creation. For your health, don’t isolate yourself inside.
He’s shown us the path of life. He has given us means to health and grace.
One just might be to see His work outside. So go take a hike.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.