Vertigo is awful. I should know as it regularly torments me and subjects me to its awful effects. Our world is always turning and we barely give it any notice. Somehow vertigo makes the feeling that the world is spinning into a dizzying and nauseating phenomenon.
Suffering from a chronic propensity to having a “spinning when not spinning” feeling makes regular life a little difficult. Its crazy how vertigo changes simple things like riding in a car, walking through the grocery store or rocking babies. But the effects on every day don’t compare to what happens when air pressure shifts dramatically, even just looking at carousels/roller coaster (much less even THINKING of riding them) makes me ill right quick and I’m sure a party when on an airplane.
Funny how you can go your whole life never knowing about this delicate part of your inner ear where there are fluid filled canals, tiny little hairs, and little particles that are critical to your balance. That tiny little system went unnoticed by me for 2 decades until one day that it made its presence known in a big way. The pesky little balance center of my inner ear, as it turns out, is very important for daily living. Makes it so I can’t tell left from right, up from down, and I feel like my head is always spinning. Having one that doesn’t work right makes me feel shaky on the stillest of days and bedridden on turbulent days.
I think some of us have spiritual (emotional, moral) vertigo. While our physical balance center may work just fine, spiritually speaking we can’t tell left from right, up from down and we feel like life is always spinning.
In this case, it isn’t a tiny spot in our inner ear causing the problem but a troubling reality of where we’ve built our life’s foundation. How can you thrive in daily living when your foundation is shaky? Physical vertigo is caused by an inner problem exacerbated by outer phenomenon. Spiritual vertigo happens along the same way.
Just like you might not realize you have this tiny spot in your inner ear with these funny little hairs which give you balance… you also have these things some call “faith values” which are the foundational principles that give you understanding of who you are, what you believe, inform why you do what you do, and why you don’t do things as well.
When your foundation is shaky then every day living is difficult and life’s tough moments become unbearable.
Jesus talks about this very thing in Matthew 7:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
This parable makes so much sense, doesn’t it? Build your house on the rock and even when the storm rages on, winds blow and waters rise… the house will stand. Build your house on the sand and those same storms rage, winds blow and waters rise… and the house will fall. The connection Jesus makes is that we have a choice, where we build our lives on the solid rock of his teaching and example or on the sinking sand of the wisdom of our day, peer pressure, or our own will, desires, and reasoning.
Where have you built your life? Is your foundation built upon the rock or the sand? How would you know?
The sneaky thing is that we can know what is right but we can choose not to truly believe it. I liken it to this: we know where we should build our house but we often vacation somewhere else. And it shows. It shows through when we believe one way but choose to act another. It shows through when we believe what is right and true but when pushed we cave to pressure from others or desires to the contrary. It shows through when life gets tough and everything we thought we believed isn’t sufficient and we aren’t sure what we believe any more.
See… there are some people who can’t build their life on solid foundation because they have never heard the truth of the Word of God. There are some people who have heard the truth and don’t believe so they build their lives elsewhere. There are those who build their lives on God. Then there is a sneaky other reality… those who know the truth, build their life upon it… but hold onto a vacation home on beach front property that they regularly escape to when their desires don’t fall in line with the will of God.
When the storms rage, the winds beat down and the waters rise… their lives fall apart. But it wasn’t God’s foundation that failed, because they hadn’t truly built their lives upon it.
The hard work we each need to do in order to diagnose our spiritual vertigo is to get to the root of the areas of our lives that we aren’t submitting to God. He is working to sanctify those piece of our lives to our good and His glory.
I have chronic vertigo, meaning it is something I’ll probably deal with my whole life and in little ways it is noticeable on a daily basis. Even so, there are things I can do to take care of myself and reduce the risk of a debilitating episode. If I’m careful to look for signs of salt imbalance, avoiding “noise pollution” that irritates my ears, taking medicine before air travel, focusing on immovable objects in the distance during dizzying moments… I can work to protect myself from triggering a full blown episode. I have to recognize there some things I just can’t do, even if others may, I cannot and remain upright. And there are days when, caught in a bout of debilitating vertigo, that I have to rely upon the help of those who care for me most.
And doesn’t that speak to our spiritual lives too?! As followers of Christ, there are things we need to be careful to avoid as they tempt us to abandon our foundation. We know that sometimes when life seems “off kilter” we need to focus on God and not our own understanding and circumstances. And when the storms, winds and rising waters of life threaten to pull us under we rely on one another, brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ to support us when we’re most vulnerable.
What signs show you that your foundation is shaky? In what areas of life do you know the solid rock upon which you should be founded but you choose to vacation elsewhere? How has God shown himself faithful as life gets tough but because you’ve built on Him and you don’t fall apart? Today, examine the things in life that make you angry, areas where you are impatient, times you know the Word speaks volumes directly to you but you’ve hit the mute button, or places when you choose your will over that of God. Confess that to the Lord, ask for forgiveness, and allow God to help you instead to build that area of life on His foundation.