August 14, 2017
Weekly Reflection – Stability
“Grow where you’ve been planted…because the grass is probably not greener on the other side.” (Old Proverb)
It seems that stability or “steadfastness” is a vital component of the mature spiritual life. For example, in a monastery, the monks commit to staying in their particular community for life, regardless of whatever practical or management changes come along. They vow to remain in the community, to pursue a life that frees them to focus on prayer, service, and love. This lifestyle is very counter to what we observe in a world where people repeatedly hop from one role or place to another. Here’s what I mean.
I can think of three types of transient lifestyles.
First, is the one who changes their church every two or three years. They are always “discovering” some new truth but never really become integrated into the body of believers.
Second, are those who never really find a “life” they can live with. They frequently change jobs, careers, houses, even spouses, always sensing that the grass is greener on the other side but failing to recognize that “the present is perfect.”
Third, are those who latch onto the latest medical discovery, trying an endless succession of medications, diets, exercise programs, surgery techniques, etc.
Seldom do these folk find the healthy peace they are searching for. More often than not, they leave one set of problems only to discover another set on “the other side.”
Could it be that these “seekers” are, as they say, “barking up the wrong tree”? Yes, they may find some incremental improvement when they make a change in people, places, or things. And they may grow in earthly treasure.
However, they fail to recognize that the core source of healing that is within. One doesn’t have to live in the most upscale dwelling or find the perfect church or experience complete physical health to be “whole.” The complete wholeness comes from within, from our consent to the Spirit of God dwelling in and working inside of us.
This past week I hard a local Christian doctor, a sleep specialist, explain a similar situation. He had been working with a person who had suffered from several emotional issues for many years (depression, anxiety, inability to concentrate, etc.). The patient had tried a dozen different medications, psychological counseling, light therapy, and a myriad of other techniques in their effort to get relief.
After examination, the doctor suggested they had probably been looking in all the wrong places. He explained in a sage tone of voice that, “You cannot see what you do not know.” What the patient did not know is that oxygen deprivation from a condition known as sleep apnea will damage certain systems which, when they malfunction, will corrupt other systems, and so forth.
This cascade of “systems failure” results in many of the conditions the patient had suffered under. But these conditions are secondary to the primary problem.
The doctor suggested a treatment that goes to the core issue, i.e., getting one’s oxygenation (the sleep apnea) under control. He believes that once the patient begins to sleep well and implement some practical health habits, most of the other systems will probably fall in line. What an exciting discovery! What great hope! What a simple, elegant answer after so many years of searching. But the first step was to recognize or “see” which tree to climb.
There is a well-known reaction to stress called the “fight or flight response.” People will respond to perceived danger by generating adrenalin and either fighting or running away. I wonder if there isn’t a third alternative, one that stays more calmly centered in God and understands that in Him, “all will be well.”
Could it be that in the end and on a very gut level, a misalignment with the Spirit of God is the “root cause” of our discomfort? Get that right and, as Paul says, “I can do all things (even the practical ones) through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Fail to get that right, and you will find yourself jumping from one solution to another, always seeking but never finding.
Blessings and Peace,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:5)
Read more reflections, Sarah Laughed