Another Stewardship: Self-care
May the grace and peace of our risen Christ be with you. It is already February! I hope our New Year resolutions are still working in our lives.
The season of Lent will begin on Feb. 10, Ash Wednesday. This is the season to remember our Lord’s suffering and death and to reflect upon ourselves before the Lord. I hope and pray that during this Lenten season our prayer life will go deeper and our hearts will be warmed by God’s amazing grace and love.
I think it is appropriate to think about self-care this month. Our lives are a precious gift from God. We are called to take care of ourselves, wisely following the will of God. A couple of times in my life, I was not a wise steward of myself. In my late teen years my family struggled with poverty and hunger. In an attempt to overcome these challenges, I studied very hard to pursue my dream without paying attention to my health. Later I became infected by tuberculosis (TB) and struggled with TB for about five years. It was during this difficult time that I learned the importance of good health. Because I was young at the time, I took health for granted. I was not a good steward of my health. As a result of a couple of major lung surgeries, I finally regained my health. I also learned an important lesson: Although I may have a great vision, I cannot move forward if I do not have my health. This was an important lesson in self-care.
A second challenge came to me while serving the Korean Church of Greater Washington. Another health issue arose in my life, and I struggled with it for some years. The church graciously granted me six months of Sabbath time to rest and recharge. During this time I had the opportunity to take part in a wellness program. It was called NEW START. Each letter in the name carried meaning for a healthy life: “N” meant nutrition; “E” meant exercise; “W” meant water; “S” meant sunshine; “T” meant temperance; “A” meant (fresh) air; “R” meant rest; and “T” meant trusting in God.
I attended a NEW START retreat where it was emphasized that our body, mind and spirit are in unity and closely related to each other. To be a faithful steward of our life and health, the program said, we need to move beyond just addressing any particular health issue; our whole lifestyle should be changed. I learned this important lesson in that retreat. So, since that time I have been trying to focus upon changing my lifestyle, including food, exercise, drink, rest, etc. Although I continue to have many challenges and weaknesses, by the grace of God and the lessons I have learned in my life journey, I am continuing to live and do Christ’s ministry up to this present moment.
I think we need to work, not only for physical health, but also for emotional, relational and spiritual health. As disciples of Jesus Christ, our spiritual health is a critical foundation for our holistic health. Our spiritual health will have a great impact upon our physical, emotional and relational health. Here we find the importance of prayer again. Prayer is the key for our spiritual health; and prayer will have an impact upon the other areas of our health. So, prayer should go first, and our prayer life should be strong in order for us to have an overall healthy life.
If we are truly faithful in our prayer life, we will also learn the importance of setting the right priorities in our lives. It is very important to set the right priorities in our lives, especially in managing our time. Life is God’s gift of time. How we effectively use our time is critically important for our self-care. The more we know and love Jesus, the more clearly and wisely we will discern the right priorities in our lives and seek them. What Jesus said about what should be our highest priority is still true: Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then everything will be added unto you.
We only have one life to live, and once time has passed it will not come back to us again. During this given time, God wants us to live in health. Wise and faithful self-care is not an option. This is a “must” as disciples of Jesus Christ. Let us continue to grow in caring for ourselves and in using our time wisely and faithfully, following the will of God.
Lastly, it is in February that the Cabinet begins making appointments. This is one of the most important tasks given to the Cabinet and to me. Your prayers for the district superintendents and for me will be deeply appreciated.
In our Lord,
Young Jin Cho