You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
Walking the spiritual path to wellness is a journey like no other. The destination is an abundant life to be used by God in whatever capacity He so chooses for you. The blessings that come as a result are tenfold and will take you places you never imagined. So, what are the first steps along this journey, where do you gain direction, and finally what tools do you need to sustain you along the way?
The first step is a personal relationship with your creator. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. Whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Not only does he love us, but he wants us to live forever with him. No more fear of the unknown after death. How good is that? It’s great, but it gets even better.
In Acts 2:38 the Bible says, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” And in 1 Corinthians 6:19 it says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,” Finally, in John 14:26 it says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”.
Wow, not only do we have access to God and see Jesus when we get to heaven, but while we are still here on this earth, we receive a personal Spirit guide every moment of every day for the rest of our live!! We are never alone.
Then, here’s the icing on the cake! The Spirit gives us fruit to help us through this crazy world. In Galatians 5:22-23 it says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Even when things are bad and even when things happen personally to us on this fallen planet, and we’re faced with sickness, failed relationships, grief, and personal loss we can amazingly have peace and joy in these circumstances! We can certainly rejoice in this.
The second step is acceptance. If I am in Oklahoma and I keep telling myself I’m in Georgia, and I’m on my way to Pennsylvania, I’m going to be disappointed. When I accept the reality that I’m in Oklahoma, I then know the miles that it will take to get me to Pennsylvania and I can plan my trip accordingly. With health issues this happens often. Someone may receive a diagnosis they don’t want to hear and then they waste precious time denying it. Their denial is then pushed back further into their mind and covered up with negative coping that may manifest in many ways such as the abuse of alcohol, taking drugs, sexual relationships, spending lots of money they don’t have, out of control eating patterns, etc. We all are blessed with burdens to carry in this life. Yes, BLESSED!! Some are health issues, some are personal issues, some are relationship issues. Accepting does not mean that it’s okay with you that it’s happened. Accepting means that you believe and embrace that it has happened and is happening, and you are ready to move forward. Denial of truth leaves a person paralyzed and unable to move forward in the direction of wellness and open to sinful coping. Remember Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
Step three is personal responsibility. Taking personal responsibility doesn’t admit fault for what has happened to us, unless it was our fault. If it was our fault, it means confession is in order and we move on, not letting guilt trip us up any longer. It means that no matter who or what caused the issue to occur, it’s done. We are moving on and we are going to lay “the reason why” at the foot of the cross and embrace the future, embrace forgiveness, if necessary; and embrace God’s plan for life instead of our own. Once we take personal responsibility, we are on to the next step of self denial. When we step out in obedience and deny self, we begin to gain and utilize God’s great gift of the fruit of the spirit, self-control. This moves us toward an abundant life.
As we are living this new life of obedience, moving towards wellness, where do we get our directions from? God’s precious word, The Bible. Wellness includes God’s design for our physical body. His temple has to be fueled. He created REAL FOOD to fuel it. The proper foods that fuel us towards good health are actually listed in the Bible in the Book of Leviticus. These foods helped the Israelites get to the promised land. The promise of better health has not been removed, although it has nothing to do with salvation or sin. It is purely the blessing of living a life attuned to His Word and is a blessing to those who “eat of it,” no pun intended!!
Using the Bible for direction, we also see many verses about how to achieve and/or improve mental health. Some of these are: laying down greed, jealousy, idol worship and worldly passion. All of these things get in the way of our relationship with the Father who gives us completion and fills voids in our lives. Unfulfilled voids cause mental anguish and left unchecked this anguish can give way to mental issues.
Another way we receive direction is through prayer. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have a built-in compass to guide us and an interceder to plead on our behalf to God when we don’t know exactly what to pray for. It’s amazing. God is so good to us. He anticipates times when it’s so hard, we can’t even express ourselves, but the Holy Spirit already knows and goes before God for us and pleads our case. What joy to know that we have Him working for us when those burdens are heavy and we are walking up steep hills. It’s as if He comes beside us and lightens the load and strengthens our limbs so that when he directs us to walk up that hill, it isn’t as bad as we thought. We begin to feel that we can go the distance to our wellness destination.
Does wellness mean healing for chronic physical and mental disease? Sometimes it does, but many times wellness means learning to live with burdens well by learning from God how to manage in a way that allows our lives to be enhanced by what we are carrying instead of pulled down and beat up. God uses the trials we go through as tools for building character, endurance, faith, and empathy for others, and when we use these tools, we begin to experience peace, love, patience, and joy while we are under stress. We also learn to let go of our desires and experience complete fulfillment through Him. When this happens, our desires begin to change and then when the time is right, we see a fulfillment of some of those desires come to pass as we remain obedient. 1 Peter 3:14 says “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.” 1 Peter 1 6-7 says “in this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
As we approach a state of wellness on our spiritual journey, one thing is clear, it’s different than we imagined it would be. Our desires have changed and are being fulfilled because they are desires that have eternal value and will follow us into the kingdom of the living God one day! Some of these desires involve relationships with God, others, and self– as Dale Fletcher greatly describes in his Bible study, Pathway 2 Wholeness – that have dramatically improved because we are living not out of ourselves and our own ability but we are living through the Spirit of the living God, who is the creator and the sustainer of it all!
If you would like to learn more about living the abundant life and move forward in your journey to wellness on the spiritual path that Jesus Christ has for you, sign up for Dale’s unique wellness program about whole person health called Pathway 2 Wholeness and begin today. It’s a beautiful day for a walk!
Stephanie Wilkins, CNC, is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and the founder of No More Bandaids which is a ministry of encouragement to caretakers and those suffering with chronic conditions. Stephanie spends her days researching evidence-based nutrition and health information and develops personalized healthy living plans for clients. As well, she teaches, speaks and blogs about health and wellness from a Christian perspective and is equipped as a Faith and Health Ambassador from this ministry.