Commencing my terminal degree was a decision I agonized over. I entered higher education with a Master’s degree and the promise from my employer that my position would never be contingent on pursuing a doctorate. As the Home Economics program I developed blossomed and matured, however, I knew that I would hinder its credibility if I selfishly maintained my reluctance to embark on a doctoral program.
A sabbatical to pursue the degree was impossible so I enrolled in a program that could be completed concurrently with full-time employment. The one available in my area required coursework during the academic year and twenty weeks of residency on the Northern Arizona University campus that spanned 3 summers. The first summer I identified with Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth 1-4) — I left all that was familiar to reside in a foreign environment. During my devotion times that summer our Lord allowed me to discover Jeremiah 17:7-8. It soon became the motivating verse for my doctoral studies.
Sixteen hours of comprehensive examinations followed my coursework. I completed eight hours and found myself in extreme pain at the conclusion of the second. Diagnosis revealed gall bladder disease and surgery was scheduled. Prior to departing for the hospital, I packed my briefcase with the remaining notes I needed to commit to memory. During my seven days in the hospital, I consistently meditated upon Jeremiah 17:7-8 for spiritual vitality and studied for the remaining examinations as my stamina permitted. My heavenly Father chose to allow my “leaf to be green” though the heat was intense. I completed the examinations on time, and my written responses “yielded academic fruit” that exempted me from the oral portion.
Through this experience I was once again reminded that God’s Word provides guidelines for possessing spiritual vitality in unforeseen circumstances. May I share with you some principles that emerged which continue to provide spiritual vitality for me?
- Ultimately I have only two choices in life—obedience or rebellion to my heavenly Father’s instructions. If I desire spiritual vitality I will select obedience (Psalm 1:1).
- I experience deep joy and contentment, not simply a superficial happiness, when I choose to seek counsel from God’s Word and godly individuals (Psalm 1:1).
- If I consistently internalize God’s Word (Psalm 119:11), I will possess spiritual vitality (Psalm 1:2). This internalization process begins with daily spending time reading and thinking about the Scriptures, asking my heavenly Father how I should apply them to everyday life, purposing to be obedient through His strength, and joyfully responding to His instructions (Philippians 4:13).
- The more I internalize God’s Word, the more its contents will influence my daily life (Psalm 1:2-3).
- My spiritual vitality is directly related to the thoughts I deposit in my memory bank. I can only withdraw what I have deposited (Psalm 1:2-3).
- The more I consume spiritual food (God’s Word), the greater my spiritual appetite. As sound nutritional food choices lend themselves to my physical well-being, so wise spiritual food choices contribute to my spiritual vitality (Psalm 1:2-3).
- My fruitfulness is in direct proportion to the meditation and application of God’s Word (Psalm 1:2-3).
- When I meditate upon and apply God’s Word to my life, I am not guaranteed consistent prosperity or exemption from life’s challenges. The prosperity that my heavenly Father does assure is peace in the midst of difficulty and attitudes that please Him (Psalm 1:3).
- The ability to receive God’s abundant provision comes as I am transplanted from sin to salvation. Only when I experienced salvation did I acquire the capacity to achieve long-term spiritual vitality
- I have a responsibility to use the abundant resources my heavenly Father provides so that I possess spiritual vitality regardless of the outward circumstances (Psalm 1:3; Jeremiah 17:8).
- A life that displays spiritual vitality will bear fruit, even under difficult circumstances. A life lacking spiritual vitality is comparable to chaff — the outer shell that must be removed to release the valuable kernels of grain. Chaff is lightweight and is carried away by the slightest wind, while the quality kernel that drops to the earth, germinates, and eventually produces a quality harvest. I make the choice to be like chaff or grain kernels when the winds of adversity blow (Psalm 1:3-4).
- My choices, lifestyle, and appetites reveal my spiritual vitality. When I choose to refrain from every appearance of evil my spiritual vitality increases (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
Daily I benefit from the truth learned from my “terminal degree experience” because it taught me that the heat would come. The drought is certain; however, there is a supernatural source of vitality when one is spiritually-prepared. As you move into the momentum of the summer, may I encourage you to choose to cultivate spiritual vitality? Consider implementing this spiritual health plan:
- Exercise your flabby prayer muscles by praying expectantly
- Refrain from ingesting unnecessary “thought calories” by declining anxious thoughts (Philippians 4:6-7).
- Choose a diet of “high-potency thought nutrients” which promotes thoughts that are pleasing, morally clean, and in harmony with God’s standards of holiness (Philippians 4:8-9).
- Increase your physical stamina by choosing to rejoice in all circumstances (Nehemiah 8:10b; Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16).
- Cast off unnecessary weight by placing all your concerns on the Lord (1 Peter. 5:7).
- Accept that you are only capable of cultivating spiritual vitality when you seek your heavenly Father’s assistance (Philippians 4:19).
If you consistently follow this plan, you should possess a more finely-toned spiritual constitution that allows you to say, “I possess spiritual vitality because I chose to…
- be a Victor rather than a victim (Romans 8:26-39),
- walk in Integrity (Psalm 15),
- Trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6),
- Abide in Christ (John 15:1-11),
- Love my Lord with all my heart (Matthew 22:27-39),
- Incline my heart to my heavenly Father’s testimonies (Psalm 119:36),
- Thank my heavenly Father for the benefits of being His child
- Yield myself to the Lord (2 Chronicles 30:8).”
If you are in the Fort Worth area, consider scheduling a tour of Horner Homemaking House, Southwestern’s Management Model where our Homemaking classes are taught. If you would like a sample chapter of The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook simply click on Contact Pat and request your copy.
As well, you might enjoy attending the “Building a Culture of Biblical Femininity in the Home, Church and Community” Conference on the Southwestern campus October 1-3. Visit www.RockCreekBC.org for more information.