Yes, it's only Thursday, but I've been inspired by my husband's recent post on our CaringBridge journal, and since I haven't posted a Monday Musings in forever, I thought I would spend some time reflecting today while I'm lying low.
You see, I have a cold. Not a big deal -- except that because of my chemo treatments, I have virtually no immune system with which to fight the bug. My husband has the same cold, but it is barely affecting him; he is buzzing around here like a wonderful worker bee getting lots accomplished. I, on the other hand, am knocked off my feet -- quite literally. I spent the day yesterday on the couch or my bed, unable to do much of anything. This morning, after a good night's rest, I felt considerably better, so I tried doing a bit of my exercise routine in an effort to get my lymph flowing and the toxins moving out of my body. However, within the first five minutes of this simple stretching routine, I felt like I was going to pass out; I had to lie down. I got dressed for the day -- and had to lie down again. I'm writing to you from my blessed bed -- for which I give thanks daily, BTW!
Now, if you know me at all, you know that I favour natural remedies and work hard to boost my body's immune system with all manner of things God has given us in nature, including oil of oregano, vitamin C, aronia juice, fresh fruits and vegetables -- just to name a few. We can boost our immune systems with thoughtful effort, and it does help us to ward off germs.
As my husband reflected on this fact, he made a parallel to our spiritual immune systems. He pointed out, "When we do not care for our spiritual immune system, we leave ourselves open to the "germs" that rob us of our spiritual well-being."
These last few weeks, I confess that I have felt susceptible to "spiritual germs" -- to the forces of the spiritual realm that would have me worry, feel sorry for myself, and fear for the future. Those beastly bugs that would infest my brain and steal my joy have been gaining ground, AND I KNOW WHY!
It's because I haven't been boosting my spiritual immune system the way I was earlier along this cancer journey, and for the better part of last year!
So how do we boost our spiritual immune systems? After all, Jesus is all we need, right? We don't need Jesus and oil of oregano for the soul. We don't need Jesus and vitamin victory, or Jesus and joy juice. (C'mon -- have some fun coming up with your own spiritual vitamin names;)
Jesus is all we need. And yet (not "but" -- because this is not a contrasting thought!), by His Grace, He is not all we have.
So, what do we have to boost or spiritual immune systems -- to spray the proverbial Raid in the faces of those demons that would drag us down?
Here are three . . .
We have His Word.
For the better part of last year and certainly all the time I spent in the hospital last fall, I was reading my bible daily and journaling my prayers. For the first time in my life, it was a delight to make time to read His Word and marvel at all the things recorded in it. And that made a huge difference in what I thought about throughout the day, and how I felt! It made a huge difference in my spiritual life! He uses His word to speak directly to us. Take today for example. After thinking about this topic, I turned to the book of James where I had been reading most recently, and read this: "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you" (James 4:7-8). Is that not so relevant to what we're talking about?!?!?
Is reading the bible a necessary component of living an abiding life in Christ? No -- because He is the Word, and He is in us. (And let's not forget all the believers in the world who have no access to a bible. They still live abundant Christian lives -- often more so than those of us who have so many spiritual tools available.) But it is a God-Gift of Grace to have the scripture to read -- and we are wise to cherish it by taking time to read it.
We have books, CDs, DVDs -- all manner of Christian resources that are meant to turn our eyes to Jesus.
While one always needs to be selective in reading choices, I think it is safe to say that we have all read a book that has influenced our way of thinking. Certainly my reading of Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts has affected the way I view life. It has shed light on the fact that all is Grace -- and that even cancer is a Grace Gift. Such a way of viewing the world makes a huge difference in the enemy's ability to stake claim to my brain! If I am thankful, I cannot be miserable, or self-centred, or even fearful. My gratitude enables me to see Grace. And it is a book written by a humble farmer's wife that showed me that -- a book that has boosted my immunity to those voices in my head that would have me rant at God for the seeming inequities of my life.
Should Christian resources replace our study of God's word? Of course not. But He has allowed their existence for our edification. Just as He provides nourishment for our bodies, He provides nourishment for our souls.
WE HAVE COMMUNITY
In a recent post, Ann Voskamp stated, "I need community with the Body to stay attached to the head, Christ. [ I] need to to dig deep channels of communication between my God, my children, my husband. A three-fold cord — communion, community, communication — ‘koinonia’ may be this lifeline that careening days can hold on to."
While again we maintain that Jesus is all we need, He has designed us for fellowship -- He has designed us to crave community. (The importance of fellowship and community is clearly conveyed throughout the new testament.) And in North America, we are blessed to be able to freely gather in His name. We are free to live life together, gently tilting each others' faces to the Son.
I can't describe how important community has been to us in our cancer journey alone. There are no words. Over and over again, people have shown us God's Grace -- have been His hands and feet -- have loved us with His Love. And there is nothing like the power of people's prayers to boost one's spiritual immunity! I can feel when people are lifting me up before the Throne of Grace. And it is such an honour and a privilege to both be the recipient of prayers, as well as the petitioner.
So, it has taken me ever so long to put together this little post about building our spiritual immunity, but I hope it has inspired you to put some thought into how you will guard your spiritual health this year.
Do you have other ideas about how we can build spiritual immunity against the enemy's minions? Please share them in the comments below.