This past Sunday, with hands raised, I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude as I sang with fellow believers in worship. I was grateful for my heavenly Father who cares for me. Thankful for Jesus, the cross, the suffering, the victory. As the words of the songs filled the sanctuary I was aware that everything was created by God to glorify God; every situation ordered to bring good to those who love Him. My heart overflowed. Why?
I read a book that was recommended to me, “Glorifying God in your Body – Whose Is It – Yours Or His?” by Albert N. Martin. It is a short volume and can be easily read in a single sitting. I chose to follow-up the Scripture references during a second read. The book addresses the subject of glorifying God by how we care for our bodies without falling into body worship.
I was coming to the end of a twenty-two year pastorate. Retirement was only a few short months away. I felt I had poured myself out into the lives of the believers I was called to shepherd. Looking back, I see where I confused a lack of self-care with sacrifice. I rationalized that I didn’t have time to exercise properly even though I lived a sedentary life behind a desk. I didn’t have time to eat properly because there was always something to be done. The root cause of my lack of self-care was guilt, not sacrifice. God would be angry with me for not sacrificing enough. The people I cared for would be angry with me because I wasn’t doing enough. Guilt was driving me; a desire to please everyone was crushing me. I was not glorifying God in my body.
God used Martin’s book to begin exposing an unrecognized fault to the cleansing and freedom of Christ. I would begin a process of questioning, studying, and seeking His face that would be at times painful and revealing.
I am learning. I’m learning to present my body as a living sacrifice, a temple that houses the Spirit of God. I am learning how to maintain this body temple just as the priests maintained Solomon’s temple. I want it useful to the God who deserves all praise. Learning is opening a door of freedom that is leading to greater thankfulness and joy in daily life.