It was a clear, brisk day. The sun shone brightly along California’s Sierra Nevada. Standing like a jewel in the rugged mountain range, the flat granite summit of Mount Whitney rose against the sky. And climbing on its rocky shoulders was Hulda Crooks, making her way toward the top.
“I backpacked from the Whitney Portal, elevation 8,300 feet, and camped there. Up and on the trail by 4:45 a.m. and hiked over seven miles to the summit without a pack. Spent a half an hour at the top, and returned to my car–a total of eighteen miles.”
She had made it. Again. It was her fifteenth time to climb one of the highest mountains in the United States. Only a few years before she had climbed the 14,495-foot peak twice and that same summer hiked down the Kaibab Trail and up the Bright Angel Trail of the Grand Canyon. Then, to celebrate her birthday three years later, she took a ninety-six mile backpack trip along the John Muir Trail through the lofty Sierra peaks.
Exceptional? Not really. Many female nature enthusiasts can boast similar treks. Some much more difficult. But there is something exceptional about Hulda. She’s 88 years old.
Hulda begins each morning at five-thirty, jogging a mile through her neighborhood. Then walking briskly for another. She believes in taking good care of herself, eating right, and getting plenty of exercise. Why?
“I try to follow the Bible example of good living habits,” she says.
“The Bible example”? What does the Bible have to do with health? Actually, the Bible has quite a lot to say about the subject.
“Have you forgotten,” Paul writes, “that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit…Therefore bring glory to God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20, Phillips).*
“Have you forgotten…?” Yes. Most people have. they believe they own their own bodies and can do what they please with them. The result? People are dying of strokes, heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, alcoholism, and preventable accidents at a far higher rate and at a much earlier age than they should be.
The Bible uses the illustration of an Olympic athlete–a Greek tradition as familiar then as it is today–to describe the Christian’s responsibility toward personal health:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NIV).+
Such training will affect everything we do–just as it does for the athlete. We will eat properly. Get plenty of rest. Abstain from known health hazards such as using tobacco, drinking alcoholic beverage, and using harmful drugs. We have a prize to win. And it takes our total effort.
But there’s more to health than just taking care of our bodies. The great gift of God to man, which makes him distinct from the beasts, is his mind. It is truly the image of God within us. It is our only link to our Creator, and His only channel of communication with us. common sense tells us that what affects the body affects the mind. By taking good care of our bodies, we maintain our connection with our heavenly Father, and He with us.
Being healthy means more than just feeling good. It is a recognition of God’s love and care for us. He wants us to be happy, healthy, holy people. People who are prepared to meet the greatest contest of life–and win
For your further reading: 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1; 9:25; 10:31; Proverbs 23:29-32; Deuteronomy 14:3-20.
* From J. B. Phillips: The new Testament in Modern English, Revised Edition. © J. B. Phillips 1958, 1960, 1972. Used by permission of Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.
+ Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible: New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, International Bible Society. Used by Permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
© 1988 by Review and Herald ® Publishing Association