My hubby is building a 12’x8’ shed on our property in the foothills. It need not be extravagant, but it must be well-built. Maintained. Carefully planned out according to the purpose for which it is intended. In years to come, we’ll use it for storage, but until we build a cabin, this shed will be our little overnight sanctuary—large enough for two cots, a small propane stove, a little port-a-potty, and, of course, our dog Zeke.
God’s Ordained Dwellings
God’s first dwelling among His Creation was in Eden, but sin ruined that fellowship, so He’s been strategically building new dwellings ever since. In the Old Testament, God presence dwelt in the Tabernacle, then the Temple, and He occasionally sent His Spirit to dwell in an individual for a specific purpose or mission.
In the New Testament, God poured Himself into human flesh and dwelt among us in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, who was both fully man and fully God.
Consider it. God in human flesh, walking on earth—eating, drinking, laughing, crying, sleeping, and all those other bodily functions that seem unholy to think about the Son of God doing. Jesus had an earthly mother and father, friends, neighbors and every opportunity for strained relationships and offense that we face today.
After He was crucified, buried, and resurrected, Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in everyone who believes in Him. Now you and I are home to the living, breathing Creator of the universe. God’s Spirit lives inside my flesh and yours—if you believe. The reality of that statement should send the following question crashing through your soul:
What kind of home are you providing for the God who died for you?
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Honor God with My Body?
In a culture where exercise is a religion and facelifts are a mid-life rite of passage, I was a bit nervous when I came to the chapter called “Honoring the Body” in Sacred Rhythms. Nervousness grew to panic when the author began talking about exercise because of the physical limitations I struggle with on a daily basis. How can I honor God with my body when it’s already a broken-down shack?
But as I read and re-read this chapter—and kept repeating the breath prayer the Lord revealed last week—I realized honoring the body is about more than just exercise.
It’s about being kind and respectful to the bodies God has given us not for our benefit, but as an act of worship to our Creator.
Let Me Count the Ways
The Lord showed me three areas in which I need to actively worship Him with my body.
Eat for His Glory
Ouch, right? This does NOT translate, “Go on a diet.” This means eat only when we’re hungry, and stop eating at the first pang of fullness. Set aside whatever is left on the plate at that point, and save it to finish later. Eat to live, don’t live to eat.
Rest for His Glory
For those do-ers in the crowd who like schedules and goals and lists, this is a tough one. The author’s use of 1 Kings 19 reminded us of God’s necessary care for Elijah’s body to strengthen him for the long physical journey and grueling ministry to which God had called him.
To often we sacrifice our bodies in order to pursue more “spiritual” practices, forgetting that without this physical “temple” in which the Holy One dwells is essential to God’s calling.
Exercise for His Glory
It’s important to listen when our bodies say, “Stop!” rather than gauging our exercise to a random chart or listening to our minds that say, “You should be able to do more.” The important parameters are raising the heart rate and breathing deeply to push life-giving oxygen to every part of the body. When all those fabulous endorphins begin swirling around the brain, we can worship with body, mind, and spirit!
Getting Comfy With the Body
I can’t say I’ve ever been all that enamored with my body; however, I was challenged by this study to get more comfortable with it. Why? Because it sounds like I may spend eternity with the temple God gave me…
I don’t understand everything about death and resurrection, but Scripture seems to indicate that at the final resurrection, our bodies will be raised so we won’t be disembodied souls wandering about.
“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44
What if God returns the same body He so careful knit together in my mother’s womb—minus all the earthly defects? Yikes! Maybe me and my body should be friends. 😉
Ruth H. Barton begins the Practice section by asking us to breathe deeply and relax into a comfortable chair, releasing the tension from back, shoulders, and arms. She proceeds to ask a few searching questions:
- How do you feel about life in your body? Are you embarrassed about it?
- What is the condition of your body these days?
- Is your body trying to tell you something that you’ve been ignoring?
- Is there any way your body wants to pray right now?
After years of neglecting my body, all the “shoulds” and “shouldn’t haves” come to mind and threaten to condemn me. Were it not for grace, I might have given up on this week’s practice.
For ten years I’ve largely ignored the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia, P.O.T.S., and daily migraines in order to have a semblance of normalcy. It was a bit daunting to suddenly let my body talk—and actually listen.
It began with naps. I let some of my deadlines go and actually took more naps in the past three days than I’ve taken in the past three years. (We have a new puppy, and my sleep schedule is ALL messed up.)
I’ve begun eating twice a day—real, healthy meals. Go figure. Since becoming empty nesters, hubby and I eat breakfast, but then it’s hit-or-miss for the rest of the day. Less sugar and more exercise will be an ongoing battle, but at least I now have an eternal reason to work on it.
I’ve also freed myself to experience differing prayer postures. As my body has yearned to kneel, sit, stand or lie face down while praying, I’ve done it! Why feel self-conscious when God and I are the only ones in the house?
My temple will never be a mansion, but with continuing care, I will create a space that honors my beloved Creator.
Your Experience This Week:
Please share you experience of Honoring the Body this week. Is your temple a shack, a mansion, or are you in the process of renovation? Perhaps you’re still wrestling with some of these concepts. What resonated with you, and what didn’t? How can you honor God with your body and yet be faithful to what the Spirit is telling you?
Remember, the comments below are a place to share our hearts, but we’re not called to “fix” each other. It’s when we encounter God in Scripture that He transforms us.
- We must be kind to our bodies not only for our benefit but as an act of worship to our Creator.
- Discover three areas in which we can actively worship God with our bodies.
- Do you focus on spiritual things, ignoring the physical body in which the Holy One dwells?
- Which is the hardest area for you to let go of destructive habits or begin healthy ones: eating, rest, or exercise?