Everyone likes to have a new beginning. Perhaps that’s why the new year is celebrated so widely around the world; it’s a time […]
Everyone likes to have a new beginning. Perhaps that’s why the new year is celebrated so widely around the world; it’s a time for a fresh start as we look to the future. It’s also a time to try new things, change old habits, and make healthy choices.
The year ahead of us provides for just such opportunities, especially when it comes to health.
We Seventh-day Adventists have known for a long time about the important connection between mind and body. In 1875 Ellen White wrote: “Between the mind and the body there is a mysterious and wonderful relation. They react upon each other. To keep the body in a healthy condition to develop its strength, that every part of the living machinery may act harmoniously, should be the first study of our life. To neglect the body is to neglect the mind. It cannot be to the glory of God for His children to have sickly bodies or dwarfed minds.”*
Adventist health practices have been noticed around the world. Scientific studies have shown that those who practice the Adventist lifestyle of a plant-based diet, get regular exercise, abstain from harmful substances such as alcohol and tobacco, maintain a healthy body weight, and eat nuts regularly can significantly increase a person’s life expectancy. Numerous articles have been written about the results of this study, including “The Lovely Hill: Where People Live Longer and Happier,” published in The Atlantic magazine on February 4, 2013. Read it online at: http://bit.ly/lovelyhill.
A Good Start
Getting off to a good start can go a long way in maintaining healthy habits. I’ve been fortunate. My parents were very careful about living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve been a vegetarian all my life. Water, rest, and exercise were all important aspects in our family life.
As I became older, I realized the importance of a proactive approach to a healthy lifestyle. After becoming acquainted with the counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy, I grasped the importance of health reform and a healthy life. During my study for a Master of Science in Public Health at Loma Linda University, the importance of medical missionary work/comprehensive health ministry became prominent in my thinking.
It’s vital for parents to set a healthy lifestyle example at home. It will lay a foundation that will be there throughout the lives of their children. Not only instruction about healthy daily living but, more important, a daily and practical demonstration by parents will speak volumes to young people in the home. Parents have an enormous influence on their children.
So Many Wonderful Foods
Throughout my life I’ve continued to practice what I learned in my early years. I haven’t had any problem being a vegetarian, because that’s what’s most comfortable for me, and because it’s a much healthier way of life. Science has proven that a vegetarian lifestyle provides more physical stamina and greatly reduces the chances for heart disease and stroke.
When we are at home, Nancy and I are, of course, vegetarian and primarily on a plant-based diet, since it is a healthy approach to life and is a simpler way of life. Nancy is a great cook and has found many ways to provide tasty and delightful completely plant-based dishes. This type of diet is easy when we’re at home, but when we travel we don’t demand to be served a strictly plant-based diet, although we still remain vegetarian.
Many wonderful foods are available around the world, and we’ve found that it is not at all difficult to eat a vegetarian diet. Sometimes we may run into a challenging situation where our hosts may not have received information about our preferred diet. In those cases, we generally inform our hosts in a kind way that we are vegetarians, and they are happy to comply with our needs. If we handle situations with Christian grace and kindness, we usually won’t have long-lasting misunderstandings. We’ve had almost no difficulties.
The Best Exercise
When I’m at home, I try to walk a little more than three kilometers (2 miles) a day, and more when I can. I love to walk, and the Spirit of Prophecy indicates that it is the best exercise. Although walking takes longer than jogging or cycling, it’s so easy, and we notice many wonderful things around us as we walk. With smartphones we can download recordings of the Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, or other materials and profit by listening while we walk (making sure to be fully alert to traffic while walking and listening!).
In order to find time for devotions and for exercise, one must plan to have time for these important aspects of life. Sometimes life simply gets too busy. Then it’s time to reset our schedules so we don’t miss out on the daily blessings of Bible study, study of the Spirit of Prophecy, prayer, and physical exercise.
Sleep and Rest
Sleep is an important parts of our lives. When we don’t get adequate sleep, we are affected in many ways. This is an area Nancy and I are always trying to improve. Since we travel so much internationally, we sometimes lack sleep. We try to sleep on airplanes, however, and try to quickly adjust to the local time wherever we are.
While it is important to be with our church members around the world, we also try to balance in how much we “pack” into our days (and nights). We attempt as far as possible to get adequate rest. Fortunately, the Lord has provided His blessings and given us energy and presence of mind to accomplish what is expected—but only by His grace, and we give Him all the glory. Wherever we are and whatever we do, it is important to get adequate rest and sleep.
Blessed Beyond Measure
It is so important that we watch what we eat, what we drink, how we live, how much exercise we get, how much water we drink, how much rest we get, and how we look at life as we lean on Christ each day. Through the power of God the spiritual and physical aspects of life are very much bound up together.
I urge you to read God’s Word and see how many health blessings are provided in Scripture. I also encourage you to read the books The Ministry of Healing, Medical Ministry, Counsels on Health, Counsels on Diet and Foods, and other health-related Spirit of Prophecy books. All these books, and more, are available for free download in a variety of formats, including MP3, at egwwritings.org.
As we submit our lives to the Lord, and follow His health laws outlined in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, we will become healthier, happier, and holier, all through the power and grace of Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ none of this is possible. But God will add His incredible blessings when we ask Him to work through us to keep His moral laws and His health laws. When we live God’s healthful lifestyle through His grace, we will enjoy life to the fullest. Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
We will be blessed beyond measure as we allow God to work in our lives according to His marvelous moral and physical laws. It will be a great blessing to the worldwide church as we approach Christ’s soon coming. n
* Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 3, pp. 485, 486.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. You may follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Follow Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @PastorTedWilson