It’s a Delicate Balance

Just as our bodies need to work in alignment and balance, so must our spirits and hearts.

The human body is the most complex and intricate of God’s creations. Every muscle, ligament, and tendon has a specific function to do, and yet each part of our body cannot fulfil its role without the aid of other parts of the same body. If one muscle weakens, other muscles overcompensate, compromising the delicate balance God intended. Injury and chronic health problems are often the results of such imbalances.

Psalm 139:13-14 – “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

Sports physiologists and trainers work closely with athletes to make sure that their overall fitness is the best that it can be. A power weightlifter might grumble at the cardiovascular training he must endure. His focus is understandably on developing strong muscles in his arms and thighs. An inexperienced weightlifter might feel that long-distance running is a waste of time. His medical team knows that a healthy cardio system is needed to withstand the strain that each lift causes to a heart during competition. His trainers insist that his major muscles, ligaments, and tendons are equal in strength; a weak back usually shortens a lifter’s career. A dislocated kneecap, caused by weakened ligaments and tendons around the knee, can end his career.

A novice gymnast might worry that strength training will compromise her flexibility. The weight repetitions are boring and tedious. She would rather practice backflips than complete leg presses and squats. However, without strong tendons and ligaments, the gymnast runs a significant risk of serious injury to her ankles and knees.

As my disability progresses,  I have seen a marked decrease in my hand function. Although my brain sends signals to my fingers, asking them to do specific tasks, my fingers lack the strength and sensitivity to follow through. I have a deep appreciation for the complex series of hand and finger movements used in picking up a dime. As my handwriting deteriorates, I remember the joy I felt as a young child as I successfully orchestrated all the ligaments, muscles, tendons, and bones needed to grasp a pencil and slowly print my name.

Several years ago, my Physical Therapist prescribed a customised exercise program. This program would help maintain the muscle strength of those areas of my body not yet affected by my disability and would not overtax those areas affected by my disability. It was up to me to follow that exercise regime, and I must confess I was not consistent in following the regime prescribed, which resulted in a painful knee injury that required extensive treatment. My weak ankles and calves force me to wear braces. The rigidity of the braces disallows my ankles and feet to aid in keeping my balance. This causes my hips and knees to overcompensate. The exercises prescribed were meant to strengthen my knees and hips so they could carry the load my feet and ankles can no longer carry.

Although there is nothing I can do to reverse the progressive nerve damage and muscle wastage caused by my disability, I can slow its relentless progression to some extent. I have learned the hard way that if I overextend one muscle group to compensate for the weakness in another group, I can do permanent damage.

In the same way that God created our bodies to be in balance, He created our spirit and soul to work in synchronisation. Although we might be drawn to specific spiritual disciplines more than others, we must not neglect our overall spiritual health by blindly focusing on those areas of our Christian walk to which we are naturally drawn.

For example: In the arena of prayer, God calls us to be well-rounded athletes. He desires us to be prayer pentathlon warriors. He calls us to be proficient in all forms of prayer, although we may be more gifted in one event more than the rest. Unlike physical athletes who are forced to retire after relatively short careers, prayer athletes continue their training long into old age, continually honing their skills.

“In our praying, we should speak to God about Himself – that is praise; or about His gifts – that is thanksgiving; or about other people – that is intercession; or about our sins – that is confession and penitence; or about our needs – that is petition. Prayer has five fingers, like a hand, and each, in turn, must be pointed to God, that our prayer may be full and complete.” – F. W. Kates

Even if I follow the advice of my specialists to the letter, barring a miracle, my physical body will continue to weaken,

In contrast, if I submit my heart and spirit to cross train under Jesus’ direction, my spirit and soul will grow stronger and more effective with each passing year.

Personal Application

Do you tend to neglect certain aspects of your Christian walk because you don’t consider them as ‘fun’ and ’emotionally fulfilling’ as other aspects? Do you find yourself lacking in balance as a result? Work with the Lord to create a well-balanced interior spiritual life.

Perhaps there is nothing you love more than to sit down with your journal and Bible and spend hours in Bible study and reflection. However, just the thought of attending a corporate prayer meeting makes you want to cocoon in your favourite chair while reading your favourite Bible teacher. Or perhaps you love worshipping Jesus in both corporate and personal settings. Music opens your heart and draws you into His presence. The very idea of sitting down with your Bible and a notepad reminds you of having to brush your teeth every day. Sheer drudgery but necessary drudgery.

Spend some time today asking yourself some hard questions. Where did that attitude creep into your life? What lies has the enemy whispered in your ear about Christian disciplines you neglect? Do you feel out of balance? Does your Bible reading plan consist of scrolling down Facebook and Instagram reading Bible memes? Do you consider worship a warm-up for the really good stuff -the sermon? Consider sitting down with a good friend or spiritual advisor who excels in those areas you neglect. Ask them to pray for you. Ask them for pointers. Make yourself accountable to them as you seek to find balance!

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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.

Until Next Week

©2018 Katherine Walden