Twenty years ago almost to the day, I applied for a 20-year term life policy with a local representative of a reputable fraternal organization. Twenty years ago, I played racquetball multiple times a week, lifted weights a lot more than I do now, and did much more rigorous outdoor physical activities, as well difficult hikes, long bike rides, etc. So, I came in as “preferred” in my medical exam results and my premiums were lower as a result. The agent told me “preferred” meant I was healthy.
I thanked God for His grace in allowing me to be healthy. After all, I’ve known many people who exercised, ate healthy, and overall made great health choices, but still found themselves in bad health. I know it’s best to live a healthy lifestyle, but also know doing so comes with no guarantees. So, I was thankful God granted me to be healthy.
Sure, I ate mostly healthy foods and exercised. I was living a mostly healthy lifestyle.
That was 20 years ago. Like a fine wine, I’ve aged. Unlike things which age gracefully, I’m not convinced I have done so.
I have physical exams at least every two years, but the life insurance medical exams are more thorough. They do bloodwork and other things. I have had a couple of those thorough kinds of medical exams in the past 20 years, and when I did, I was informed I had some health issues I should address. That’s alarming.
I thanked God for giving me mostly good health and I asked forgiveness for the poor healthy choices I’ve made. Sure, I mostly ate healthy foods, but not always. Sure, I’ve kept exercising, but just not like I did 20 years ago. I also asked God to help me make new and better healthy lifestyle choices.
So, I did what I could to find out the best methods for improving my overall health. I thought I was healthy, but the medical exams indicated I still needed to work on things because my health was going in the wrong direction. I prayed but still had to do my part. God is not a “genie in a bottle,” just waiting to grant our every wish — even if we do things contrary to our “wishes.” God expects us to do our part (James 1:22; Luke 6:47-49; etc.).
Understand I had been a weightlifting coach, a personal trainer, an athlete and a coach of many other sports. People close to me saw me as a fitness guru of sorts. I’ve helped countless people lose weight, pack on muscle and even improve their overall health. Yet, there I was needing to make adjustments for myself or else I was going to be in big trouble.
It’s not easy coming to terms with the fact that although I was considered an expert in physical fitness, felt physically fit, and looked very fit, I was not. To admit you have a problem really is the first step in overcoming the problem. My health mission was clear. I had to improve.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, 20 years older. The guy doing the medical exam for the same fraternal insurance company for another 20-year term policy asked me to take a deep breath and relax as he took my blood pressure. For some unknown reason, I decided to start laughing. I’m always calm. I don’t need to be told to relax. I actually regularly do relaxing breathing exercises. Yet, while my blood pressure was taken, I was laughing, and struggling to stop.
Naturally, my blood pressure was a little high due to the laughter. I’m sure I was stressing a little about the fact I was causing my blood pressure to go up, while laughing. So, he wrote down my slightly elevated blood pressure reading.
But then, he said, “That’s the first one. I’m going to do a total of three and the first one is usually higher for most people.”
Sure enough the other two blood pressure results showed I did not have high blood pressure. This was the first part of the exam and it didn’t start off very well. Needless to say, I was a little nervous about how the overall exam was going to turn out. I had aged 20 years and I knew a couple of exams had indicated my health was in decline.
The phone call came just about a week after the exam. My agent said he had good news. He said I came in as “super preferred,” which is the highest possible health rating. He said it was rare that a person gets healthier after aging 20 years, but I had. That meant my premiums would be as low as possible. It also meant I was now healthier than I was 20 years ago.
I thanked God for His answered prayers on these matters. Yes, I did do my part, but I know the results are granted by God.
The reason I wanted to write about this is because I know there are others who are in similar situations. We get older and we discover we are less healthy than we thought. It can be discouraging. For some, it can be overwhelming and even depressing. It’s always alarming and can be scary.
Be encouraged by my personal story here. With God’s help, you can make even better health choices and actually get healthier as you age. I’m living proof. No, I’m not going to claim I’ve discovered some secret recipe for healthy living. Each person is unique and not everyone needs to follow the same health regimens.
Still, admitting you have a problem is the first step to overcoming the problem. If you are not as healthy as you would like to be, it might not be too late. Learn what you can about making the best healthy lifestyle choices for you. Ask God to bless your efforts as you do your part. He can do that. He did with me and I know He can with others as well.
Be encouraged. With God, you can do better. I did.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Timothy 4:8; Philippians 4:13)
Pastor Jeff Adams is a longtime community leader, victim advocate, counselor and chaplain. He ministers internationally, nationally and locally. His column appears online weekly and can be reached at email@example.com.
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