You might know this one. It’s popular in sermons and sometimes told as a joke: A religious man is in peril because of rising floodwaters. Neighbors come by in a canoe but he declines the ride saying, “God will save me.” The water rises. Police come in a powerboat and again the man refuses saying, “God will save me.” Finally, he is on the roof; the water has nearly reached him. A helicopter drops a ladder for him to climb to safety. Again, the man refuses saying, “God will save me.” The man does not survive. In heaven, he asks God why he wasn’t saved and God replies, “I sent you a canoe, a powerboat and a helicopter.”
A similar story can play out in our health.
Our bodies often let us know when something isn’t right, though the signs may be as subtle as a drifting canoe. It might be an ache that won’t go away. Exhaustion that sleep won’t relieve. A dullness in our spirit.
Sometimes we feel great, so we put off that yearly checkup that’s designed to pick up the signals we can’t feel. We tell ourselves, “I’m just too busy” or “It’s probably nothing.” Get quiet, settle yourself and tune into your body more closely. If you have a sense that something is “off” or you feel an urging to schedule that checkup, take heed. God may be sending you a canoe.
In all your ways, submit to Him and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
—Proverbs 3:6-8, NIV
From helpful tips to instructions on caring for chronic conditions, our health care teams give us powerful tools to help us care for ourselves. They teach us how to manage stress, blood sugar, cholesterol, heart problems, weight, mood and so much more. Sometimes our health care teams can be like the powerboat. More forceful, a little louder and harder to ignore than a canoe.
We listen. We try. We may talk a lot about the plans we should follow but find it hard to “walk the talk.”
If you struggle to follow medical advice, try reframing the hard choices. What if taking that walk, eating those vegetables or testing your blood sugar is just a way to climb into the powerboat God sent to you?
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
—Galatians 5:25, NIV
There’s no gentle way to say this. If you’re looking up at a ladder being dropped from a helicopter, you’re in a dire situation. This is lost-at-sea- or trapped-on-a-mountain-level rescue. In healthcare, these are heart attacks, strokes or emergency surgeries — the dramatic rescues we never want to need. The good news is, if we take the canoe or powerboat, we’re less likely to ever need the ladder-dropping helicopter.
It makes sense that God communicates with us through our bodies. They are His temples. The small choices you make each day to honor your body and health honors God. When you put your health first, you put Him first. It’s not always easy. And we can’t always do it alone. Notice the people He places along your path to help you. They may be your lifelines from God.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
—1 Corinthian 6:19-20, NIV
Lord, by such things people live; and my spirit finds life in them too. You restored me to health and let me live.
Learn more about how we support your body, mind and spirit through whole-person care.