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I recently became aware of an interesting fact. My wife and I had been visiting our daughter in Tulsa. As we were driving home, I discovered that from Miami, Oklahoma to Springfield, Missouri, there is an elevation change from 797 feet above sea level (Miami) to 1299 feet above sea level (Springfield). In the approximate 100 miles between these two cities, there is an elevation gain of 502 feet – essentially an average of 100 feet gained every 20 miles.

I have driven this road many times. Until I googled the elevations, I was not aware of the elevation change. It was imperceptible to me. The road just had rises and dips…hills and valleys. In my mind, the two towns were probably about the same distance above sea level. But, driving from Miami to Springfield, from one hilltop to the next, the elevation increases. The next hilltop sustains the gains in elevation…then the following valley dip and then pushing up to the top of the next hill, which sustains another gain in elevation. Figuratively speaking, the road gains momentum going down and then uses that momentum to crest another gain.

The terrain sustains the gains in elevation. The same principle applies in all walks of life including good health. To have a gain, a person must be moving forward. No forward movement, no gain.

To thrive, the human body must have both forward moving challenges and periods of rest. Our health – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – must be challenged to press forward. Without continuing to press forward, our bodies will begin to decline, to age at a more rapid rate, to begin dying. For me, that involves such things as exercise and disciplined, plant-based eating; forcing myself to regularly read a wide variety of books; to take risks and be open to new possibilities; to pray and seek God; to constantly change.

Once the gains have been made, a healthy background lifestyle can allow me to thrive and sustain the gains until the next “push.” Things that help me to sustain the health gains include rest, recreation, adequate sleep, intermittent fasting, sabbath rests, healthy relationships, a daily relationship with Jesus, Bible reading, and regular participation in my local church.

By sustaining the gains in health in between the episodes of moving forward, it is possible to actually have large gains in health over time, even though the progress may seem imperceptible.

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