from difficult people, and
from painful events.
This one simple response begins to build stability and resilience into our spiritual lives.
I surprise some who know me when I tell them how quickly I can get discouraged and spiral down. My first reflex is often to run and hide. Many are surprised because they view stability as one of my strong points.
I’m learning to bounce well.
Perhaps you may respond better to attacks in life than I do. You may not have as much need to bounce well since you don’t spiral down as often as me. For me, when waves of life crash over me without warning, they usually knock me around, thrusting me downward like a powerful undertow. My initial response is often discouragement as I bounce off the abrasive sands of trials.
Let me explore this crucial concept with some word pictures.
First, I learned something about resilience…
…when I was in high school in 1964. The “SuperBall” by Wham-O was the rage. I had not seen them for decades until I just googled them. The harder I slammed the ball on the concrete, the higher it bounced, as high as 75 feet according to Wham-O.
Have you wondered why they bounce so high? A SuperBall is extremely elastic with high resilience. When a highly elastic ball hits the ground, it gets compressed or squished. Because it’s elastic though, it quickly decompresses and returns to its original shape, thrusting itself back up. Their resiliency quotient measures how they respond when a force hits them. The SuperBall has up to 50,000 pounds of compressed energy according to Wham-O. The more it’s compressed, the higher it soars.
Similarly, the harder life slams us, the higher our life soars…if we have developed a high resilience quotient in the spiritual realm.
Let’s learn to bounce well by becoming resilient, elastic as followers of Jesus (yes, this is learned behavior!)
Another word picture is buoyancy.
If something has buoyancy, it has an inward power to float or rise above its fluid environment. For a boat, this happens with the building material and that the hull is sealed from leaks from outside. Our buoyancy quota is crucial.
For me, when waves of life crash over me without warning, they usually knock me around, thrusting me downward like a powerful undertow. My initial response is often discouragement as I bounce off the abrasive sands of trials. When the powerful waves of life knock me around, I now float over many more than before and pop up more quickly because I’m learning to be more buoyant spiritually.
How buoyant are you in your life today?
“Riding high on the waves, Jim!”
“Floating low in the water.”
My favorite picture though is this third one, “Weeble-Wobble.”
My favorite picture, however, is this third one. I’m learning to bounce well like my favorite “pet,” Weeble-Wobble. I carry my pet everywhere I go in my backback. If you have not met my wonderful pet “Weeble,” google him.
When I think of bounce well, I’m not thinking about how to avoid trials or tough times or loss. Good luck with that strategy! Pain and suffering are part and parcel of our lives in a fallen world. Trials and loss are normal for followers of Jesus who desire to live godly lives (2 Timothy 3:12). My spiritual resiliency, elasticity and buoyancy grow stronger when I struggle (not “if”) through the adversity, so I bounce back more quickly.
Let’s learn a healthy Biblical theology of how God uses pain and suffering to form us into our highest and best. Weeble gets slapped around by life like a hockey puck, yet quickly stands upright again. In fact, my pet’s reputation is: “Weeble wobbles but does not fall.”
What is Weeble’s inner secret?
Weeble has a solid, heavily weighted foundation or base. When life assaults, he wobbles a bit, but does not fall. Circumstances in life may knock us down, yet not out as we learn to bounce well. My “pet” reminds me of two essential truths from Scripture that have helped me learn to bounce well.
First, develop a solid, weighty center.
My pet Weeble teaches me the importance of focusing on a solid center in my life with sustaining weight. This weighty base centered from Scripture on the Father, Son and Spirit and their provisions also re-calibrates our inner spiritual compass. I’m still very much in-process after forty-plus years walking with Christ. And also determined to continue growing as a lifelong life-learner and doer.
Second, embrace a view of our God who gives us permission to wobble for a time.
After being slammed by life, Weeble gives me permission to wobble for a time before I stand firm. And we will stand if we look to our Master because He will “make us stand” (Romans 14:4)I don’t have to beat myself up for wavering. Weeble keeps smiling!
Honestly facing my emotions of lament are crucial to spiritual growth. Please don’t view these emotions though as an accurate reflection of Reality. Our inner affections are instead crucial pointers that shout, “Something is happening!” They are not accurate guides yet necessary for discernment.
Quickly respond to this early warning signal, then engage your mind by partnering with the Spirit in Scripture to discern what is happening. My initial, knee-jerk response may often be discouragement, yet I now bounce well through my chosen secondary responses…and often quickly. Growing maturity is not marked by perfection, but progress in the right direction.
How do we become resilient and buoyant with a solid, weighty base (mixing the three pictures)?
Lasting change begins with honesty,…
so we become aware of where you are today on our journey. Then investigate to identify how to build a stronger inner spiritual foundation and do what’s necessary to grow. God calls us to be active responders. I’ve written a number of short articles available as free PDF’s on this website. Go to the sub-webpage “Flood our Life with Spiritual Nutrition” to try them out today. Learn to saturate our minds with of these elements as our life-focus. When I struggle (not “if”!), I now (a) become aware more quickly and (b) respond more swiftly.
The Analogy of an Allergy
Let’s switch analogies again. This concept of spiritual resilience to bounce well from attacks and trials is so crucial for growth, I hope one of these word pictures finds its way into your heart (mine is Weeble-Wobble!)
It’s not unusual to pick up physical allergies as we walk through life. And it’s similar with spiritual “allergies.”
My wife had devoured nuts all her life without problems. However, when we were in Germany, my wife developed a severe allergy to her favorite food. One nut and her glands swelled up around her eyes. She looked like she had been in a street fight. One of the best allergists in Germany gave her no hope, except shots to control her allergic reactions.
When we returned to the States, a friend introduced us to a holistic Doctor who had freed many people from allergies. However, in order to focus on clearing her allergy to nuts, the Doctor first needed to clear any allergies in a ten-element baseline essential to support healthy life. First Fran needed a healthy physical baseline. Then her body operated in a state of higher health to naturally support vibrant life. Only then could the Doctor remove the nut allergy because her body was in a healthier state to cooperate.
I write to provide a healthy spiritual DNA as a baseline.
Our physical makeup imitates God’s spiritual design. Our spiritual lives operate in a state of higher spiritual health when we lay a solid foundation of life-essentials. God fashioned us as highly interconnected beings, fearfully and wonderfully made.
We understand allergies a bit, right?
For example, we discover that our physical body is Vitamin C deprived. This causes serious long-term health problems. However, we are pounding Vitamin C rich fruits and veggies and top supplements.
What has gone wrong?
Our body is allergic to Vitamin C, rejecting what is essential for health. Some chain of events or associations in the past have wired our memories to falsely re-program our brain. These destructive cellular memories miscalculate that Vitamin C is a threat to the well-being of our body. Vitamin C is ingested, and our brain erroneously deploys its soldiers. “Destroy the enemy, Vitamin C. Disrupt the body so badly that Vitamin C will not be ingested.”
After exposing and clearing the deceptive physical allergy, a new level of physical health is available because our body can now assimilate Vitamin C.
It’s the same in the spiritual realm.
Flood your life with spiritual nutrition that releases and supports spiritual health. Then if you have a spiritual “allergic reaction,” clear the spiritual allergy so our body once again naturally assimilates the good, spiritual nutrients. If we are unaware of our spiritual allergy or refuse to take the time to clear the allergy, we can pound great spiritual nutrition yet still struggle without spiritual health.
“Perception is reality” is certainly a lie.
However, we often respond based on our false perceptions, not on Reality. These following nutritional truths lay down building blocks to transform our minds, so we see life more accurately (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:23). They are not complete yet very helpful. Growth comes by adjusting our reality to God-Reality. Align our mind-set with God and restore spiritual health to everyday life.
BTW, Fran eats nuts today with no negative impact so we can clear allergies permanently.
A 50-year old acquaintance just returned from his allergy testing and gushed:
“I’ve lived 40 years with essential physical elements in my life at 10% of capacity. I adapted and thought I was leading a normal life. I can hardly believe the energy and health I now have since my baseline allergies have been removed.”
Similar to our physical life, for good health we don’t focus on sickness. We acknowledge it, take our medicine regularly, and refocus on what releases health. In the spiritual realm, our focus is on our relational God and His connected relationship with His people. This focus releases the abundance of His light and love and life, even though at times we must deal with allergic attacks. Light dispels darkness. Health overcomes sickness. Love overcomes apathy.
For some of you, this will be a spiritual tune-up. After 40+ years, I still regularly “tune up” my spiritual life. For others, you may identify a missing element that has caused you to crash for years. Health is then awaiting! I want to give you a living hope from Scripture.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope (Romans 15:4).
Following are two resources (with multiple helps) that will help you to bounce well.
After a bout with physical sickness, my immune system is run down. My physical protocol is: extra rest, pound water, eat well, extra vitamin supplements…and lots of rest. Since the physical often imitates the spiritual, this is also crucial spiritually after a bout with a besetting sin or a particularly intense ministry. Read Ephesians chapters 1-3, the spiritual Reality that Ephesians 4:23 refers to.
These spiritual nutrients establish a solid baseline without allergies to release thriving spiritual health. We become more resilient like a SuperBall, more buoyant like a cork, and develop a solid foundation like my pet Weeble.
Over the years, I have gathered key passages that release life in me. I call them my “deep wells” of spiritual refreshment. I soak in these passages and other ideas from God’s Love-Letter. They sow deeply into me the culture of freedom Jesus brought with Him. Because God designed us to worship, “we become what we behold.” The NT calls us to intentionally set our minds on this rich body of spiritual nutrition (2 Corinthians 3:17-18 and Philippians 4:8 as examples).
Sailors learn to sail in normal weather, so they are prepared for the storms. My encouragement is to first make these Ten Baseline Elements your own before you battle the winds and waves of trials. Feel free to make a comment to me suggesting any key element I missed.
With this resource (web page linked above), I list a few of the attacks I have experienced in life, and some suggestions from Scripture to exchange for the enemy’s lies. Write a comment on this web page suggesting others you have encountered. The list is virtually unlimited because each of us is a unique image-bearer.
When life assaults you quickly shift to this simple process to A-I-D renewal. First, dial up your awareness that “something is happening.” Then investigate with God’s Love-Letter to know what truth we are missing and respond by doing it (A-I-D). Actively put truth into action to encounter life. This enables you to disengage from bondage to the lie in your heart (heart = mind, affections and will).
“Put off’ what disrupts your life and “put on” the truth again like Jesus in the wilderness. so you are again able to soak in God’s truth and grow. When I “exchange God’s truth for the enemy’s lies” in a trial or struggle, I return to my deep wells quickly for a long drink of refreshing spiritual water to revive my inner man.
Be “made new” in our minds as we marinate on the spiritual nutrition reflecting how are God relates with His people to provide His presence and resources.
The physical often imitates the spiritual.
Look at the universe. Nature abhors a vacuum. Something will rush in to fill any vacuum. When we “put off” something that disrupts our spiritual life, we must quickly “put on” Christ and what is true and good in order to “renew our minds.” (Ephesians 4:22-24). We “put off” the lie and exchange truth for it as we intentionally “put on” the rich spiritual nutrition of truth. If we don’t fill the house we have cleaned, we unintentionally grant the dark forces of evil permission to come back seven times stronger. Take Jesus’ words to heart (Luke 11:24-26 with the context in 11:14-23).
Perhaps you may not spiral down with every one of the listed attacks.
Even if you don’t, others you relate with may, so perhaps these would be helpful as you serve. Until the basic building blocks of our thinking and feeling and doing are transformed (our heart, the core of our being), it’s common to begin with our own history of sin, brokenness or pain instead of God’s mind and will.
Add comments to to let me know how I can address this limited list better or add your own suggested topic. I would like this to be interactive since we need each other to live loved.
- Print out the free PDF of this page if you want to think more deeply on it (click here).
- Go to Flood our Life with Spiritual Nutrition and begin strengthening these as your life focus, right now even if you are in a season of smooth sailing.
- If you consciously struggle now in an arena, go to the web page Exchange God’s Truth for your Lie and see which comes closest. Print the free PDF and partner with the Spirit to work it through.