By Ryan Shaw
Biographies teach us much about how to live obediently and faithfully to Jesus. I value honest and in-depth spiritual biographies immensely. Over the last decade I imagine I’ve probably read at least 100 biographies.
They enable us to expand our concept of following Jesus and learn vicariously through the multitude of life experiences and subsequent responses each person chose. Any believer in search of what it means to grow in God relishes such insights.
Biographies also confirm the important habits and disciplines of what it takes to be faithful to Jesus as His hands and feet in a dark world. The fact that the same examples occur over and over again in completely separate lives proves their importance.
We want to observe what it takes to be obedient and faithful to Jesus over a lifetime. We are not in a sprint as message bearers, we are in a marathon. What habits and disciplines will enable us to grow in effectiveness at 25, 45, 65 and 85 years old?
A good place to start is the issue of surrender. Effective message bearers daily take self off the throne and give this vital role back to Jesus. We invite Him to be “Lord” over every area of life, all we possess and all that is related to us. We do this daily because of our propensity to rather quickly take this role back in our lives.
Next, we diligently cultivate three spiritual habits. Daily time studying the Word of God (1/2 hour to one hour), getting alone in prayer and worship (at least one hour) and passing on to others what has been understood through Scripture and prayer.
We also give attention to develop physical habits. This allows us to continue in ministry long after others may be physically unable. There are three helpful reminders for physical stamina.
First, God’s grace is for our body as well as our soul and spirit. The life of Christ is manifested even in our physical bodies. Redemption is for the spiritual as well as physical life. We receive Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection for our soul while also receiving it for our physical sustenance.
Second, we understand God works in the natural realm and so we take vitamins that supply the necessary requirements of the human body. They boost our system and keep us energetic.
Third, we use common sense. We limit eating types of food that do not enhance our physical well- being. God has created certain foods to enhance us, while eating too many unhealthy foods hinder that well-being. He has natural laws in the universe and if we abide by these laws with our physical being, we do ourselves great good.
One of these laws is exercise. A bit of daily exercise will take us far. A second law is the need for adequate sleep. A regular bed time allowing for 7-8 hours of sleep is a plus.
Doctors tell us that fatigue in the body is typically overcome by around 8 hours of sleep. If we are consistently tired after 8 hours of sleep, the tiredness is most likely rooted in either a spiritual or mental issue, not a physical one.
Lastly, there are many anti-health attitudes and inner responses that take their toll, over time, in our physical frames. Doctors verify about 60% of all health problems are not rooted in physical problems but in spiritual, mental or relational issues.
These have been called the “12 Apostles of Ill Health.” They are anger, resentment, fear, worry, desire to dominate, self-preoccupation, guilt, sexual impurity, jealousy, lack of creative activities, inferiorities and lack of love.
Each time one or more becomes apparent we surrender these to Jesus. We receive His grace to forgive us and His enabling and empowering over that issue in the moment.
We don’t fight with the issue by trying harder in our own capacity to overcome. We surrender to Jesus, allowing Him who is all in all to overcome this area through us.