This song by Karla Adolphe has been a blessing this week...
Hold me near when I'm restless
Hold me near when I'm bitter
Hold me near when I"m rebellious
Hold me near until the end
Hold me near when my heart is broken
Hold me near when I'm ignorant
Hold me near when I am jealous
Hold me near until the end
But as for me my feet almost gave out
I nearly sold my heart
It's good to be held by my Father
It's good to be where you are
Much of my reading and thinking lately has returned me to the idea of wholeness. As we follow cultural models of compartmentalizing life, we seem to believe that one area of life can be thriving while other areas lie in ruins, without one having too much effect on the other. I can make a myriad of analogies here from nature and agriculture about how all of life is created to be interwoven and interdependent, but I'll spare you...
The thought actually surfaced while I was running the other day. It was a beautiful day - 50 degree weather, very little wind but a lot of sunshine. I dare say, perfect running weather. I ended up running 5 1/2 miles along the lakefront, further than I would have guessed I had been up for after a winter of, well, not much physical activity. As I felt the aches and pains, there was something really good about it - good to feel aware of my body. Maybe you're thinking this is sounds a little weird. I'm going somewhere...
The run got me thinking about how God created us as whole people - spirit, mind, and body. Our personhood depends upon their inseparable unity. My wandering mind, running body and stirred spirit got to thinking about God himself, how the Trinity is our perfect picture of inseparable unity, of wholeness.
When I was young, my mom used to braid my hair; she would braid it really tight and sometimes it hurt. But I learned that a good braid is pretty simple - all three parts that you are weaving together need to be the same size and they need to be tightly bound.
I won't put forward that a braid is the ideal representation of the Trinity - of course all our pictures fall short of so great a mystery - yet there are helpful truths to be gleaned. If we have two big pieces of hair (Father & Son) and one smaller piece (Spirit), we're going to end up with a weak braid. And of course we see this within many parts of the American church - without a whole view of who God is as He has made himself known, we are left pretty weak and lifeless. We can't have a healthy, right understanding of the Father and Son if our view of the Spirit is incorrect.
Hang in there, that's not my main point, ha! Back to the wholeness of our personhood - spirit, mind, body. If these same principles cross over, then my 'braid' is weakened when my theology only includes the health of my spirit and mind, but ignores my body. And yet obesity rates within the church mirror the culture at large, and care for the body seems to be optional. If indeed we are whole people, how can one be healthy, self-controlled, and disciplined in his or her spirit and thoughts while ignoring those same standards for his or her body? Is that person experiencing wholeness?
I also got to thinking about readiness - that throughout scripture we are called to be ready. Ready for Christ's return, but also ready to follow wherever the Lord would lead us. To be faithful to this calling we must be ready spirit, mind, and body. I can be willing, mentally prepared, but physically incapable and thus hindered. Am I stewarding my body well so that I am found ready when the Lord calls me to go? Of course, I'm not arguing for a pursuit of 'the perfect body' or a pursuit of worldly beauty, but rather a sense of stewardship, discipline, self-control and care.
I really enjoy running. I particularly make a point to 'unplug' when I run - no music, no pedometer, no watch - I enjoy the space to pray and contemplate things the Lord has been stirring in me. In many ways it is an activity that exposes for me the interweaving of my spirit, mind, and body - the inseparable braided wholeness.