(The following article is an introduction to The Elemental Life eBook, and the Essentials In Spiritual Formation course we offer. We hope it encourages you.)
Are You In Your Element?
Dan Wilt, M.Min.
Your life is a gift to the rest of us.
You were designed to live in your element, in that unique way that only you can live in this world.
When you live in your element, the rest of us are impacted – we’re grounded, we’re inspired, we’re empowered, and we’re connected to one another.
The New Testament says this about living in our element in 1 Corinthians 12:4:
“Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits.
All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!
The variety is wonderful….”
When you live from the center of who you were designed to be, we are all richer and inspired to live in our element.
There are 4 elements in life to which we all must attend if we want to live fully alive before God and people in this precious lifetime we each have been given.
The element of Earth speaks of the grounded life. The element of Wind speaks of the inspired life. The element of Fire speaks of the empowered life. The element of Water speaks of the communal life.
Earth – A Grounded Life
Earth speaks of a grounded life. When I was a young boy growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania, I first learned the lesson of gravity. It wasn’t in a classroom. It was the day I decided I wanted to impress the neighbor girl on the playground near our home. I climbed to the top of the monkey bars while she stood watching, enthralled with my courage and wild daring. Like a superhero at the top of the Empire State building, I thrust my arms into the sky, and I leapt into the air.
My memory of what happened next is quite foggy. I remember my feet hitting the ground first, my knees second, my chest third and my nose and face, last. As I say wheezing on the ground, gasping for air and feeling the warmth of the blood pouring from my nose, I heard a young girl’s voice say matter-of-factly “That was dumb.” I remember thinking a simple thought in that moment: “I thought the ground was softer than this.”
Earth speaks of those things of that don’t move in our lives – those things that don’t break on us – rather we break on them. Earth speaks of life elements like faith and a healthy spirituality. It speaks of character and the quality of your soul: integrity, honesty, perseverance, courage, faithfulness, goodness. Earth speaks of our marital relationships, our relationships with our children, our extended families, our friends. Earth speak of our ability to live generously in a world that tells us to withhold for our own benefit. Earth speaks of a grounded faith.
Are you living in the element of Earth – are you tending to those elements of life that ground you, stabilize you, provide a foundation for living well, finishing well, in your lifetime?
Wind – An Inspired Life
Wind speaks of an inspired life. A number of years ago, I was sailing on a boat with my family and friends on a blustery afternoon on Lake Ontario. We decided to go swimming, and while the rest of my family were hanging onto a rope attached to the boat, my oldest daughter and I were not.
The boat quickly moved away from us, and I don’t swim well. We floated in the turbulent waves as we watched the boat rapidly become a small speck quite distant from us. My friend knew exactly what to do. He was familiar with the arts of handling the wind, no matter which direction it was blowing. He moved quickly, grabbed the rigging, threw his many sails into the sky, and masterfully found his way right back to us.
Wind speaks of those life elements that inspire us, that move us where we want to go, that deliver us from our belief that we can do nothing, to our belief that we can do anything. Wind speaks of life elements like art and beauty, gardening, great concerts, inspiring books, energizing friendships, passionate vocational work and spiritual encouragement. Wind speaks of our need to lift our sails into the wind, to learn the arts of riding the winds that are sent to us, and getting to the places we are made to go.
Are you living in the element of Wind? Are you tending to those elements in your life that inspire you, renew you, that bring you joy, that provide you with the energy you need to move forward day by day through the responsibilities of life?
Fire – An Empowered Life
Fire speaks of an empowered life. I’ve interacted with many friends around the world who, like me, have endured life-threatening battles with severe depression. In each case, there are many layers, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual that can add up to the sense of powerlessness that many feel holds their life in chains. I have watched those same lives, in a time of prayer, or in a season of ongoing encouragement renewal and counsel, come back from the dead, burst through the chrysalis, to live a colorful, resurrected life.
Fire speaks of those life elements that empower us, that revive us and give us a strong and vivid sense of destiny and purpose in the world. Fire speaks of a spirituality that celebrates God’s greatness and our own. Fire speaks of ongoing personal development in areas of our passion and our skills. It speaks of study, risk, and placing ourselves in situations where wild adventure is the only option. Fire speaks of life elements that remind that we are someone’s hero in this lifetime, and that we have strength beyond ourselves to drawn on to accomplish our unique heroic mission in our lifetime.
Are you living in the element of Fire? Are you tending to those elements in your life that catalyze energy, passion, skill, hope and faith within your soul? Are you living in such a way that you are regularly empowered to do what you are called to do?
Water – A Communal Life
Water speaks of a communal life. I, like hopefully many of you, love flyfishing. One of my favorite summer pastimes to stand in a river with a friend down the way, casting my line into placid, lush pools where the fish are resting. In the river and its pools, one sees the very nature of water. H20 runs to the lowest places. It nurtures the growth in those hidden areas that teem with life and they become alive.
Water speaks of those life elements that connect us with one another in a deep and growing sense of community. Water speaks of friendships maintained over the course of decades, of lifetimes, that are nurtured on a daily or weekly basis. Water speaks of the hope that comes in a moment of tremendous distress, where lives with which we share both joy and pain come around us, run to the lowest places in our hearts and nourish the seeds that are buried in the soil of our suffering. Water speaks of our faith communities, spiritual friendships, our connection with our tribes, and our intentional connection with our communities.
Are you living in the element of Water? Are you tending to those life elements that nurture encouragement, accountability, shared wisdom and mutual inspiration in your life? Are you living in such a way that authentic relationships are running to the lowest places in your life, because you are running to the lowest places in theirs?
A Simple Question
I began with a simple question. Are you in your element? Are you tending to the elements of earth, wind, fire and water in our daily, weekly, monthly and lifetime basis, we will find ourselves at the very center of a destiny that begins and ends in a Story bigger than us all.
You were made for this kind of elemental life, to be who you were designed to be – to live in your element for the sake of us all.
To uoin others on the Elemental Life journey, dive in here.