Lifeblood is about Tapping Into Jesus as the True Source of Renewal

Tapping Into Jesus as the True Source of Renewal

Out June 26

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Lifeblood: Tapping into Jesus as the True Source of Renewal
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Disclaimer: This chapter cannot be used for any reason without express written permission from the publisher.

 

1
The Lifeblood in Our Personal Lives

My body felt like a lump of coal. I was swimming by myself in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota. My college roommate had suggested we take a camping trip together, but he liked to sleep in. I liked to do things impulsively.

Ask anyone who has suffered from hypothermia, and you will get an earful. Hypothermia is not fun. When you have it, your arms feel like logs. Your legs go catatonic. That's what happened to me on a warm sunny morning, just ten feet from shore. I felt as though I was about to sink. I gasped for air. I questioned my decision-making ability.

I had a few interesting (and what seemed like final) thoughts:

How did this happen?

Why didn't I bring a rope?

Look at those clouds!

I wondered if my last thoughts on this blue spinning orb would be so surreal and random that I'd be thinking about how the clouds looked like bunny ears. I thought about whether my roommate was still asleep. And I started to really hate the Boundary Waters.

Hypothermia is a fairly common problem in the great northern area of Minnesota, just below Canada. The lakes in this area are particularly chilly, even in the middle of summer.

Here are a few scientific facts about hypothermia. First, when you have it, your body starts to lose heat faster than you can produce it. Doesn't sound good, does it? Your blood starts to congeal, and you can't think clearly. In fact, when you have hypothermia, you don't really know you even have it. That's the most dangerous part, because it feels as if you're just fine.

After a few seconds of experiencing the above-mentioned difficulties, I yelled. Then I yelled again. I edged closer to shore. My body felt heavy. Things didn't look good.

I floated for a while, then I looked up. My friend was looking down at me with a quizzical expression. He had appeared out of nowhere, and he reached out to help. I somehow managed to lunge forward and grab his hand. He pulled me up to a rock outcropping and started making a joke about picking the wrong time to go swimming. I couldn't talk. I just sat down and felt numb.

"You okay there, John?" he asked laughingly in his thick Kentucky accent.

Not really. I had never experienced anything like that. It took me a few hours to recover, although I wonder to this day if I was as close to death as I'd felt at the time. All I knew then is that my body was not cooperating with my mind. I hadn't been able to get my arms and legs to propel me toward the shore. I hadn't been able to do what I'd wanted to do because I hadn't had the ability or the strength. My thoughts had been clouded. I'd known the goal—to get to the shore, climb out of the water, eat breakfast—but I'd been sinking fast.

I wonder at times if the spiritual life is like that. I wonder if it is exactly like that. Our lives don't match up with our ambitions. We know what we want to do, we set goals, but we don't always cooperate with those goals. We aren't even aware we're sinking, yet our commitment to Christ starts to falter. I wonder if there is anything we can do about that.

There are a few pat answers, of course. We can read the Bible more. Pray. Find other likeminded Christians. Sadly, these simple answers to complex questions don't always work, do they? The Bible seems stale. Our prayer lives are routine. People in church act like jerks. Between periods of total isolation and loneliness, we get distracted by the allure of worldly things—and I'm talking about more than just the iPhone. We're sinking either because we're alone and we have no one to save us or we don't quite realize that our blood is congealing. It's like we don't even know we have spiritual hypothermia, even though many of the signs are present. We try to do things in our own strength. We share our faith with others, but we're not even sure our own faith is strong.

I know all about this, because I tend to have these struggles myself. Some days I can't find Bible passages that make me go "wow" the way they did before. I pray with my wife, Rebecca, nearly every day, but some days I'm guilty of dropping the ball—I just skip our prayer time and go to work. Some Sundays I struggle to find deep relationships at church and deeper meaning in the message. This struggle has a generational name: a few years ago the phrase "the done" came to describe people who were done with church but still called themselves Christians.

There are no easy answers to this problem. As with everything important in life, it is hard to deal with spiritual deadness and break out of spiritual patterns we've developed over decades. Change takes effort. Yet we can find joy in our spiritual lives. We can find life again. The secret is in the blood.

*****

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