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Robert Murray McCheyne, 19th century minister in the Church of Scotland, was known for his dedication to home visits and evangelism. Even after retiring at the age of 25 due to poor health, he still focused on the ministry up to his death shortly before his 30th birthday. Towards the end of his life he lamented: “God gave me a message to deliver and a horse to ride. Alas, I have killed the horse and now I cannot deliver the message.”

While it might be admirable living a shorter but meaningful life rather than a long, fruitless life, most of us find ourselves between these two extremes. We have a responsibility, though, to see this “horse” of ours as part of the equipment God entrusts to us while in his service.

I would like to care for this “horse” of mine (my body, myself) in such a way that my life (and my ministry) on earth would not only be longer, but more meaningful. Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians that they didn’t belong to themselves but were purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and therefore should honour him with their bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20). He might just as well have reminded the Christians of today to honour God by not only keeping our body pure/holy, but also by keeping it healthy.

I can do this by living a balanced life. I can choose natural, fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain products, fish and lean meat, and enjoy refined carbohydrates (especially sweets) in moderation. It has become fashionable to pursue fitness, I personally skip that gym session or brisk walk much too easily. And of course, no-one can be physically and emotionally healthy without sufficient rest/sleep and that bit of relaxation or holiday.

A missionary friend of ours once wisely said: “Sometimes the most spiritual thing one can do, is to take a nap.” Of course, God decides when I would go to heaven, but I can do much about implementing the days He entrusts to me by caring for this “horse” with which I have to deliver the heavenly message of salvation and reconciliation.

(Inspired by Richard Eastman on Honoring God with our bodies)

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