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Close up of funny overweight man workout in the gym

I’ve always struggled with my weight! It’s been a struggle since I was a kid, and I specifically remember when it started: It all began when I had my tonsils removed! You see, I was a skinny kid because I was always getting an infection and the doctors advised my parents to do what doctors advised many parents to do; take the boy’s tonsils out and he won’t get sick as much, and they were right. But the problem was when I g0t my tonsils out, I also discovered the pleasures of reading and watching TV! Boom! Welcome to the statistical world of American kids raised in the ’60’s and ’70’s! Thanks alot Captain Kangaroo!

Sure, part of it is genetics, but the reality is my struggle with my weight has EVERYTHING to do with the struggle for my soul, and the answer is always BALANCE, Sobriety, Wakefulness, and Attention! It’s the extremes of either indulgence or deprivation that always gets me in trouble. When I try to starve myself, I lose weight then quickly gain it back (with a few more pounds added for good measure) and when I indulge myself I fall right back in that same trap again. It is the never-ending “hell” of my own fears and lack of balance. It’s the spiritual illness of thinking either/or rather than both/and!

Look at our lesson today in Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28:

At that time, Jesus entered a village; and a woman called Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve you alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Look at how Jesus responds to a woman who is amazed at His teachings. It’s in His response we see our path out of an unhealthy and unbalanced spiritual life (and physical life for that matter).

Balance is the key. Sobriety is the goal, and Wakefulness (or attention) is the path! It’s vacillating between periods of religious fervor and spiritual apathy that create the yo-yo spiritual life that leaves me in a perpetual spiritual kindergarten, and that’s not what the Lord intended for us when He called us to be like Himself!

So, how do I break this destructive pattern of Either/Or? How do I move beyond the yo-yo spiritual life to a healthy, mature Christian lifestyle? I have to learn to repent (metania). I have to learn to retrain my mind to stay awake to the balanced life of a sober Orthodox Christian. I have to adopt the Both/And approach to BEING a Christian and not just talking about it. I have to become Mary, and leave behind my Martha-like ways!

Turns out the key is BOTH Hearing AND Keeping the Word that makes for a blessed life. It is the Both/And of making yourself available to hear the Word and then moving beyond merely having the faith wash over you to actually practicing what you’ve heard. It’s both/and not either/or! This recipe for spiritual growth, progress, freedom, and joy simple cannot be tinkered with; it must be practiced. Just like a balanced diet of physical food and activity is necessary for a healthy body, so a balanced spiritual diet of purposefully exposing myself to God’s Word AND practicing His Word is necessary for a healthy spiritual life!

Today, is your spiritual life as healthy as your physical body? Are you approaching your spiritual maturity with a balanced “diet?” The regular and willful choice to BE in the services of the faith, read the scriptures, and hear the timeless wisdom of the faith coupled with the willful PRACTICE of what you hear is the KEY to a healthy spiritual life. Hearing AND Doing! Because one simply doesn’t work without the other. Oh, by the way, did you know scientists have discovered the most balanced way to maintain a healthy body is by fasting two days a week on nonconsecutive days! Imagine that. 

P.S. Part of being a balanced Orthodox Christian is knowing how to value your faith enough to share it! From Oct. 3-5 we will have a National Evangelism Conference in Portland, OR called Bringing Orthodoxy to America, and this Sunday night join me and my special guests as we dedicate a all new Faith Encouraged LIVE to talking about Orthodox Evangelism. That’s Sunday at 8 PM on!

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  • Leonard J. Cook
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Thank you, Father. I needed this today.

  • Kimber R
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    Hit me right where I am with this one. Thanks Fr. Barnabas.

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