It amazes me sometimes the body’s incredible ability to heal. My best friend growing up was the youngest in this big wonderful family. Her dad was recently in very critical condition and in the last week we have seen him turn a corner and his body has healed in a profound way. He has a ways to go – but we have seen a miracle in a situation where there seemed just days ago to be no hope. It reminded me again this week that these bodies we are in are fearfully and wonderfully made.
As I have watched this happen several times in recent years, it seems to me there is a moment where the body goes from reacting to circumstances to fighting to recover. And when that happens, the progression from critical to stable can be very rapid.
I think it is the same for our emotional and spiritual health. We can allow circumstances, consequences of bad decisions, and the weight of this broken world to overwhelm us. And when we react to all of those things, our emotional and mental health can rapidly spiral downward. Have you ever done that? Sometimes we can be in a highly reactive state and a circumstance can happen and suddenly we seem to have been thrown into a crater. We churn on it and dwell on it and can’t seem to break free. It is like all we see is the circumstance.
But there is a moment that can change that downward spiral. In fact, it can change the direction of our life. The moment may be a truth that suddenly gets illuminated for us, or a caring friend confronting us in love, or a turning point in our heart where we simply humble ourselves and turn back to the Lord and ask for help. And in that moment, although our circumstances don’t change – our direction does. Suddenly, things aren’t so overwhelming. And we begin to, very quickly, heal. Now that our direction and focus are right, our attitude and actions and perspective suddenly snap back to center. We begin to feel like we have control over ourselves and our emotions again.
I recently worked with a guy named Josh King and he drew this illustration about people and their relationship with Christ for us in Staff Meeting – I thought it was really powerful. Imagine that each of these dots is a person and the diagram represent their closeness to God.
He said that we as people tend to want to judge the condition of people’s hearts. So we begin to do this grouping thing. This person is close to Christ obviously because they do this and this and this, and this person – well they are far far away because of all these things they have done. So, we begin to draw a circle. The red area represents people we think are “in” and the white area is everybody else.
The point my friend made, which was so powerful to me, is that what we judge as closeness to God isn’t the important factor. The important factor is the orientation of the hearts of men (which we of course cannot truly see). So if we were able to instead look at the direction people are headed in relation to God, then we would be able to see the entire picture.
Our job then, as Christ followers and ministers of the Gospel, is to encourage others in their orientation towards Christ, as we ourselves continually correct our direction to orient our own lives toward His glory. Realizing that only when headed toward Christ can true happiness be found, we make it our life’s ambition to point people toward the wonderful person of Christ. How close they end up, whether they are “in” or “out” is not something we can ever judge or truly know. All we can do is reflect His glory and point people back to Him, realizing it is all about the direction of our focus.
Just as this amazing illustration represents our overall spiritual direction, I think it also illustrates my point about healing. Emotional and spiritual healing, I think, is a matter of orientation. And when we and the people we love are facing the right direction, with the right goal and the right God, it is AMAZING how quickly everything can change.