. . . so actually, I am “on the other side of things” with regard to being single. And I think that’s important to emphasize . . . that you can be on the other side of something huge internally without your situation seeming at all to be changed. I am on the other side of anxious, frustrated grasping. I’m on the other side even of trying to be measured and patient. I just am measured and patient. And resting.
I think it’s also important to address specific aspects of this resting . . . like purity. It really does matter what you ‘feed on’ and it really is important to monitor what you allow to bring comfort to your soul.
So I think one of the significant changes that has contributed to me being able to just completely and entirely exhale in my story has been a glorious revelation of the will of God for my life.
>> For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God . . .
. . . each one of you means even people who are convinced that they don’t have the gift of singleness, and even those of us who are married and even those of us who are almost married or will probably get married to them anyway. So I’m just going to talk about it. There is an enormous deception permeating our society, and unfortunately it has tendrils entangled with the sprigs of Christians.
The realization that I have been called to purity and that the will of God for my life is that I learn to control my body in holiness and honor has breathed an abiding rest into my singleness that allows me to delight in this current season, as well as in the possibility of a lifetime of this . . . this realization has helped me see the connection between feeling like I was just kind of white-knuckling the whole concept of purity until I ‘finally’ got married and it would hopefully just work itself out, and an over-emphasis on natural longevity by means of focusing on the flesh.
Some of you may remember that I once upon a time worked as the office coordinator for a private alternative chiropractic practice in the Bay Area. The catalyst was that I had experienced sudden and traumatic back pain on the first day of what I thought was going to be my dream job, and I freaked out and three weeks later I was looking for work again and also trying to afford and find rides to chiropractic care . . . and I ended up working at this place where I got treated for free.
For background and context, I will share that some of the ways my heart has been tempted to wander is with regard to spirituality, and wanting to taste and experience and have knowledge of other ways of life that seem to bring some level of zen and terrestrial perfection . . . alignment, if you will.
My earliest memories of consciousness contain awareness of the presence of God. And even when I didn’t understand His Fatherhood and warmth towards me, I believed on some level that I should care what He thought, and I had no desire to spitefully go after other gods and betray Him. But I have been curious to know the secrets of the universe as they relate to humanity and the connections we have with each other. I have been fascinated by what I perceived to be the accuracy of astrology when I finally bothered to research what my zodiac situation was, and there was a season where I kept seeing certain numbers and decided it was worth wandering off after.
And I won’t go into all the details, but I spent too much time with those things and I let them influence my decision making. It gave the enemy access to my life and it brought death and confusion.
So a few weeks ago – a couple of months, at this point I guess – I was dealing with some spinal and nerve symptoms and it was really bothering me on a deeper level than just physical discomfort. As I was praying about it, the Holy Spirit showed me that it was directly related to the time I spent working at the alternative healing practice, and that I was being oppressed by the spiritual influences of that practice, which are the same specific spiritual influences associated with one of the strands of yoga.
I’ve never actually practiced yoga because thankfully I had enough sense to listen to my mom who always warned against it and continually steered me away from new age interests to singular spiritual devotion to God through Jesus. And that was actually what ended up causing me to quit my job at the chiropractic place after a couple of months . . . in addition to it being part time and hours-based and not enough to live on, I was also feeling increasingly dissonant and recognizing that the lifestyle and practice of my boss and the intimate community she was attempting to cultivate were incompatible with the exclusivity of my Christian faith.
So as I was praying about my spinal and nerve issues, and the Lord showed me the source of it, that first night brought immediate relief and I was able to sleep all the way through the night after weeks of insomnia. After that, however, it felt like all hell was breaking loose and I was involved in an intense spiritual battle. And I know that sometimes people can get spooky about this kind of thing so I will go into some detail here in case it proves helpful to someone . . .
To start with, I believe that in Jesus I have been redeemed from the curse of the law (because Galatians 3:13 says so), and that Jesus bore my sickness and dis-ease for me so that I can be healed in Him. So already, when there is illness and dis-ease manifesting in my body, I believe – as is stated in John 10 – that satan is the one that kills and steals and destroys, and Jesus brings abundant life and healing. I know that this is controversial among Christians and that there are some instances and stories that seem to be more complex than that – like Job, for instance. But I also know that when I back up to the macro, meta-narrative, the truest truth is that God is good and only good and always good. And when you look at the ministry of Jesus, He never put sickness on anybody, He always came to take it away . . . and (among other scriptures and passages) John 6:38 reveals that Jesus came to do the will of God.
The reason I start there is because spiritual warfare often has mental and physical manifestations. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, but the weapons of the enemy affect our bodily experience of being alive as well as our relationships (including our relationship with our self). And the way we fight against that is by faith in the Word of God . . . by taking up and using our shield of faith and taking every thought captive. agreeing with Jesus when He says that we are healed. and agreeing with Jesus when He says that He has overcome the world and agreeing with the Word that says that He always causes us to triumph.
And as others of you know, my mom died of cancer leaving behind a 12 and 14 year old (and three young adult children), so I am no stranger to the experience of life cut short to disease. But experience does not have to weigh more than what the Word says. And I’m not making judgments on my mom or anyone else who has lost their or a loved one’s life to illness or accident or disaster. That is the world we are navigating. We are dancing in a mine-field.
So (back to my spinal story) once the enemy upped his anty, I was bombarded with more symptoms and with feelings of general uncleanness as I realized the spiritual reality of what I was involved in, and as the facade was exposed. And what do you do with that? What do you do when your spine and nerves are spasm-ing and you haven’t slept through the night in months? You say what God says. God says I am not my own – I am bought with a price and I glorify God in my body. God says my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God says I belong to Him and death has been defeated.
And this is the point I have been long in making . . . when Christians yield themselves (knowingly or not) to other spiritual influences – whether that’s something like network spinal analysis, yoga, or even ‘just’ fear, bitterness, or envy – we open ourselves up to experience things that God never intended for us to experience. God is gracious and merciful and often protects us in our ignorance, but it does actually matter whether or not we obey Him and how well we pay attention.
Unclean and evil spiritual influences are only harmless to those who are in Jesus, and are submitting to God in that specific area of their lives. It is foolish to believe that we can keep something compartmentalized from His Lordship, and still have His blessing and protection.
So. When we amalgamate our attempts to take care of our body as the temple of the Holy Spirit with practices and lifestyles that have whole entire ancient traditions that are unapologetically in contrast and opposition to the God of the bible, we are in danger of reaping consequences, and are essentially positioning ourselves towards sinfulness . . .
As long as I am interested in and dedicated to things that serve the flesh and entertain the influence of other spiritual realities . . . lifestyles that focus on the promise of ultimate earthly satisfaction or otherwise vague and ambiguous transcendence . . . and focus on the sensations of my body and selfish, inward gazes, it will be difficult for me to resist lust when it shows up, because it is the fifth hand of a false god I am bowing to.
It’s all related. Spirituality is not the buffet it’s been presented as. You are on team Jesus or you are not. And team is Jesus is team abstinence and purity and holiness and honor. It is team controlling your flesh and disciplining your mind by the power of the Holy Spirit, and not finding your identity in every single desire and sensation you’ve ever experienced.
But team Jesus is also team light instead of darkness. Satisfaction and life.
I think the reason so many Christians are attracted to yoga and new age lifestyle practices is because they are quenching the Holy Spirit through distraction and disobedience, and their church and culturally-christian traditions are emptying the Word of God of its power in their lives. We have tried to tame Him instead of submitting ourselves to His wildness. And it makes us bored and dry. It leaves us thirsty and unsatisfied.
Obviously, there are people who have missed it in the other direction – who have attributed to the Holy Spirit stuff He’s had nothing to do with, but there is stuff that He has to do with and if we let Him, He will satisfy our spiritual thirst and bring physical health and practical, material goodness to our lives. It’s our rich blessing and our sobering responsibility to be committed students of the Word so that we are able to discern the difference.
To set the mind on and fixate on the flesh brings death, but to set the mind on the Spirit brings life and peace (Romans 8:6, John 6:63), and a tranquil heart gives life to the flesh (Proverbs 4:20).
So I am gratefully on the other side of understanding something significant about my spirituality and how it empowers my singleness and brings holiness and honor to my body.
I am on the other side of being distracted by physical appetites held at arm’s length until it’s finally socially acceptable for me to indulge them . . . the other side of being hyper-aware of symptoms and fixated on experiencing physical flawlessness. You guys, this is a full time job.
I think Christians have talked a lot about being radical in the sense of traipsing off to plant churches in places where they haven’t quite learned the language yet, or even deciding to live in less than desirable areas in their cities . . . giving up creature comforts for the sake of the Gospel . . . all good things. But what about radically believing that the Holy Spirit is still Acting? Still healing and making people whole? . . . still providing the necessities of life to people without the luxury of choosing to give up comfort?
What about radically denouncing the idea that yoga is a harmless stretching technique that can be culturally appropriated and severed from its spiritual influences? . . . and radically taking God seriously when He tells us to fear not . . . to take no anxious thought about our lives? What if we meditated on the word of God instead of everything wrong with the world? It’s all related.
. . . & &