I must admit that I love watching the gymnastics events during the Olympic games. I find myself riveted to the television watching the powerful athletes compete on the balance beam, parallel bars, and uneven bars. The graceful movements that look so effortless are almost intoxicating to me. During the winter games, I am intrigued by the ice skaters with their jumps and twirls and pure speed. It appears that they are practically floating on the ice. It looks to easy. Of course, it's far from easy. The least little bump or wrong turn can not only spell disaster for the routine, but also potential physical injury to the athlete. I don't have to be a trained athlete to know that balance is the key to success for any of these events. Without balance, the gymnasts and skaters would surely fall.
Olympic athletes are not the only ones who need good balance. I'm not necessarily talking about physical balance but about the need to have harmony in all areas of our life. How easy is can be to be hyper- focused on the part of living that come easy to us. If you are smart, intellectual pursuits such as problem solving, reading, and mind games can occupy all your time. If you are a natural athlete, then you no doubt are happiest when you are running, playing ball, or rock climbing. If you are a tender-hearted type with great compassion for the condition of your fellow man, then perhaps you enjoy being with others offering a helping hand whenever it is needed. All are very worthy and noble uses of your time and energy. But consider the words of Jesus in the New Testament:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind. (Matthew 22:37 NIV)
Jesus is saying that there is more than one part to each of us. The Creator designed us to be not just a heart or a physical being, not just a soul or an bundle of feelings, and not just a mind or a collection of thoughts. God wants to be loved with our entire being. He desires for His children to be balanced. The next verses in this passage talk about the importance of loving our neighbors. Jesus placed great importance on these instructions referring to them as the greatest commandments. In order to have the peace and joy that we so desire, we need to develop all areas of ourselves and keep them in balance. It takes a heart, a soul, and a mind, to truly love God and fellow man. Walking on that balance beam of life is the true challenge. Believe me, I know this from experience!
Have you ever been walking along minding your own business and suddenly lose your balance when someone bumps into you or there is a crack in the sidewalk that causes you to lose your footing? If you have, then you know that it takes effort to regain your balance. Similarly, if you have recently lost a loved one, then your life has surely been thrown off-balance. You may be struggling right now to regain the harmony of life you once had. Our loving Father is telling us to pay attention to and nurture our entire beings, not just our broken heart. It may take some effort and planning, but I have no doubt that you can become balanced again.
1. Considering the three areas of life that are described in Matthew 22:37. Over which part of your life do you feel most in control?
2. Which part of your life is most out of control or unbalanced?
3. What do you miss most about your loved one who has died?
4. Read Deuteronomy 31:6. How does this verse speak to you about your source of strength to regain balance in your life?
5. What evidence of God have you seen in your life lately?
Your Grieving Toolbox
Today's tool will be one that you will develop over the next few weeks or even months. I call it the Daily Life Monitor. I am asking you to create a log of activities that feed your heart, soul, and mind as described in Matthew 22:37. To do this, you will need to find a notebook that you can keep at your bedside. Devote one page to each day and date that page. Then, divide the page into three columns and label them, you guessed it, heart(or body), soul(feelings or passions), and mind(brain exercises). Before you go to bed, review your activities of the day and write them in the appropriate column. For example, if you took a walk or made an effort to eat a high fiber meal that day, then write that in the heart/body column. If you spent some time on your favorite hobby, then put that in the soul/passions column. If you read a book or did a crossword puzzle, put that in the mind/brain column. After a few days, you will be able to see if your balance of life needs a little adjustment.
My precious friend, I pray that you will experience the loving Father that give you refuge and strength. May you be without fear as the mountains of your life quake and the sea of your life roars and foams. May you remember always that the Lord of hosts is with you and the God of Jacob is your stronghold. Amen. (based on Psalm 46:1-3,7)