Originally Written for 1/10/10
“Some people talk about spiritual growth and how they can stimulate it in their lives, but to gain the power to change, what we need to talk about is not spiritual growth but spiritual health. Healthy things grow, so you don’t need to focus on spiritual growth…Instead, focus on spiritual health” – One Month to Live
Melissa and I got a book over Christmas entitled One Month to Live, and the whole premise of the book is asking and answering this question: if you only had one month left to live, how would it change how you live right now? The authors then go on to challenge the readers to live like we really only have one month left to live.
The book is divided into readings for every day, about 30 in total, and we’re at day 6 (so we just started). But the above quote is from our reading yesterday, and it’s been haunting me ever since I read it. As I meditate more and more on it, I have to think it’s (unfortunatly) too true of my life. Too often I do look at spiritual growth and not spiritual health. I live in a world where test scores, statistics, and numbers matter – they matter for my job, they matter in my bank account, and they matter, unfortunately, even in church. Jesus did tell us we would know a “tree by it’s fruit”, but I think we take that to be too much of a performance-based approach to spirituality.
How often have you found yourself (like me), reading your Bible or praying so that you can check it off your “to do” list, but it doesn’t make any lasting impact on you? I like to listen to sermons when I drive to work and back, but sometimes I get into the habit of listening to them but not really paying attention – yet I can feel some sort of satisfaction that I’ve “completed” it.
This week one morning I got into the car and plugged in my iPod and I felt God saying to me, “Tom, don’t turn that on. Let’s just talk – you and me.” My first inclination was, “But, God, I’m listening to a sermon – how much more spiritual could I be than that?” He simply replied, “You could talk to me and listen to what I have to say.” So I turned off the ipod and spent the time in prayer.
Maybe that’s a sliver of what the authors were talking about – spending time just “being” with God and getting healthy. The growth will happen later. At work it’s easy to focus on test scores, since that’s what the government and the public evaluate us on. But I constantly remind myself that test scores and learning don’t always go hand-in-hand. If I focus on test scores, learning may or may not increase. If, however, I focus on learning, test scores are bound to go up. It’s the same with with spiritual health, I guess.