Abide: In the Physical

For as long as I can remember, I have walked into rooms to do something, only to forget why I’m there. One way to jog my memory is to walk back to the room I just came from to look for clues about my quest. More recently, however, I’ve become aware of my body in these situations. I’ll actually say to myself, “My body seems to know why I’m here. I should pay attention.”

Y’all, it’s the weirdest thing! It’s like my body knows what to do before my conscious self becomes aware. I’m standing in the middle of the kitchen clueless. Till I’ll stop long enough to notice I’m positioned near the sink–and a light bulb goes on. Oh yes! I need soap.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I’ve been keyed in on what my body is telling me–except a podcast. A couple of months ago, I listened to Emily P. Freeman interview Dr. Hillary McBride about how important it is to be aware of our bodies. Sure, our health and needs, but especially the way we exist in the space our bodies take up. Her idea of paying attention to bodies planted an idea in me that I’m only now beginning to work out. 

So, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that, Dr. Matthews’ “Warfare Prayer,” which I received not long after that and shared last week, includes prayer specifically about our bodies:

“I smash the strongholds of Satan formed against my body today.
I give my body to You, recognizing that I am Your temple.”

I’m awakening to the idea that our bodies can either be vessels for God’s purposes or hindrances. Our bodies can help us abide in Christ, or they can keep us from it. It becomes imperative, then, for us to spend some time considering how our bodies impact our abiding life.

Disembodied

We tend to live fragmented from ourselves, having lost connection with our bodies–what they tell us and how they lead us. As Dr. McBride explains, because we don’t see the body as the place where our existence happens, we live disembodied. Maybe we’ve believed that our bodies are not our own–that they belong to a person or a system. Maybe we’ve believed that our bodies are an enemy or an obstacle that needs to be overcome. Or an obstacle to living life. Or even an obstacle to experiencing God. 

Photo by Suzi Kim on Unsplash

We rarely realize we’ve adopted these beliefs (more proof of our disconnection), but once we do, it helps to remember that Jesus came to us in a body. In doing so, Jesus shows “us through his body that our bodies are not bad, that the Divine exists in flesh and that the body is part of God’s way of being in the world” (McBride).

To become aware of our bodily stance is empowerment. Once we recognize how dis-integrated we are within our bodies, we can work with the Holy Spirit (and professionals, as needed) to reconnect and re-integrate within ourselves. 

I suspect this is a new idea for most of us. But here’s a truth I’m allowing to sink in. If the enemy is busy building strongholds against my body, then there must be something to what Dr. McBride is telling us. Our bodies are part of the whole experience on earth and with God.*

Bodies as Breakers

In our physical world, busyness and media stand as huge distractions. Second only to our relationship with God, our bodies take the biggest hit for the perpetually fast-paced lives we lead. Lack of time leads to fast food meals. Lessened energy leaves us too tired to exercise. Every leveraged minute of the day leaves us spread so thin we have nothing left to give. Yet, somehow we manage to scroll social media, only to compare and feel worse about ourselves. 

Our physicality also distracts. Long term illness, chronic pain, and lifelong battles can tempt us to focus on them instead of God. And, too often mental illness hitches itself to us, making us feel hopeless and helpless. This is when the enemy escalates distraction to isolation, leaving us wide open for attack.

The enemy can distract and tempt us to sin with our bodies. Our bodies can become unhealthy fixations, which push us to idolize ourselves more than God (Matthew 6:25). And, what’s meant to sustain us or give us pleasure gets twisted–food, sex, and other addictions lure and lock us up. 

Each of these physical areas can become breakers to our life of intimacy with Christ. But, they don’t have to. God always gives us an escape when temptation comes our way (1 Corinthians 10:13).

One exit strategy is to take hold of the truth that our bodies belong to us. Dr. McBride encourages this bodily ownership as a first and integral step toward embodied living. Scriptural truths can be picked up, like a sword, to help us fight back. Psalm 73:26 has become my mantra when I’m tempted to hate my body or be distracted by it. I feel such relief within myself and connection with God when I speak it aloud:

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
    but God remains the strength of my heart;
    he is mine forever.

Psalm 73:26, NLT

Once we own who we are and Whose we are, we can use the truth and the power God offers us to shatter the shackles that have kept us from living fully on earth–and abiding with God in the heavenlies.

Body Builders 

Nope, not talking about the gym but about building awareness of and possibilities for spiritual abiding in the physical realm (1 Timothy 4:8). I’m talking about paying attention to what our bodies are telling us in order to build abiding lives.

Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash

It helps to remember that to abide in Christ means to depend completely on Him for all that we need to live for Him. Warren Wiersbe describes abiding as a “living relationship” while Paul dubs it “Christ living in us” (Galatians 2:20). Chris Tomlin sings our illustration: 

Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more.
Where grace is found is where You are.
And where You are, Lord, I am free.
Holiness is Christ in me.

“Lord I Need You” by Passion

The answer to ALL the worldly, bodily dysfunctions and distractions is Christ in us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)! 

Friends, we are the temple of God. 

This is the game changer. Our bodies are the place where the holy exists. We don’t have to leave our bodies to experience something holy and sacred. Christ is in us! Embracing this reality gives us all the power we need to put off the old nature with its…

  • selfishness and put on the new nature with its love.
  • fear and put on the new nature with its courage.
  • weakness and put on the new nature with its strength.
  • deceitful lusts and put on the new nature with its righteousness, purity, and honesty.
    taken from Dr. Matthews’ “Warfare Prayer”

The more we walk this earth fully aware that we embody the holy, then not only will we take better care of our physical selves but we’ll treat all the other temple-bodies with equal respect and love. 

The hope of Christ is in us. CHRIST IS IN US. No matter what demands and distractions we face, our bodies can dwell in this physical world with supernatural power. 

Rhythm of Worship

Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

There will always be one who tries to come against us on this journey toward the abiding life. As we begin to recognize how the enemy twists our affection for our family to the point they’ve become idols in our lives. Or the way he takes our adoration of food and warps it till it’s what we worship. Or that he takes advantage of what we like to watch or do until our attention is only focused on those things. Once attuned to these tactics, we can learn how to stand firm against them.

An effective way to break the enemy’s grip on us is to build the rhythm of worship of God into our daily lives, putting our affections, adoration, and attention back on the One we love most (or want to love most, which I qualify because sometimes we desire to love God before we actually do). He alone is worthy of such undivided attention and devotion.

When we can see our bodies as a sanctuary, ”that place we encounter the divine” (Dr. McBride), it doesn’t matter when or where we worship. We don’t save worship for Sunday mornings; instead, we build new rhythms, playing praise music instead of Tik Tok in the mornings. We praise God in the car or as we fold clothes or wash dishes. Or worship Him as we walk or paint or watch the birds.

Worship renews our allegiance to God. It sets our spiritual eyes on God and gives us space to rejoice in God’s mercy and goodness–because His love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8). And casts out fear (1 John 4:18). And fills us to such an overflowing that we can love others as He loves us (John 15:12).

Friends, the physical ramifications of our spiritual abiding with God cannot be underestimated. To truly abide with God, we must become aware of our physical being in a very physical world. And that starts with paying attention to our bodies–claiming them as our own and seeing them as holy sanctuaries. To deeply dwell with God depends on our willingness to depart from distractions that not only pull us away from God but from ourselves. 

Our bodies know the truth of Christ in us. We should listen.

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  • *If you desire more information about ‘embodied living,’ I recommend Dr. McBride’s book, which I link in the resource section. I’m only using a fraction of her ideas as a springboard for our purposes. But there is much more to her research and teaching.
  • One other factor (I’ll mention) to our physical habitation on earth is our relationship to time. Again, no space to elaborate on this here, but if managing time, prioritizing how you spend your time, is an Achilles heel for you, I can’t wait to introduce you to Kendra Adachi. She is perfecting what she calls the Lazy Genius Way, and it’s changing people’s lives! I’ll link her below.
  • Isolation, as a tool of the enemy, can be directly combated in community! So even though we aren’t sitting face-to-face, your comments here and on Instagram help us to connect with one another and discover we are not alone in all the hard and lonely.
  • Music often helps get our bodies and hearts and minds aligned so we can more fully worship God, so I hope our Abide playlist helps you do just that. I’m still moving songs around. I even added one this week (“Spirit Lead Me”) that captures so much of what worship is–not just singing. But surrendering. And obeying. And trusting.
  • Resources for this week–a resource list you can come back to as needed. Not an expectation for this series. XOXO
    • Kendra Adachi’s book, The Lazy Genius Way,** and her podcast, The Lazy Genius, give us words and very practical strategies to manage the lives we want to live–being genius about the things we care about most and lazy about the things that we don’t, IN THE BEST OF WAYS. If you want a quick overview of her thirteen principles, here‘s a great place to start.

Featured Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash
**affiliate links, with which I could earn a little something

Published by Shelley Johnson

Follower of Christ, wife, mother of three, daughter, sister, friend. Seeker of ways to share the love I've found in Jesus with others.

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