Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV
One night many years ago, while relaxing at home after a hectic day at work, I chanced upon an old movie that was showing on TV entitled, Lost Horizon. It was taken from a novel of the same title written by the British writer James Hilton in 1933. In the movie, some plane crash survivors discover Shangri-La, a mystical, harmonious valley in the western end of the Himalayas.
Since the book and movie, “Shangri-La” has become synonymous with any earthly paradise — a permanently happy land, isolated from the outside world, where the people are forever young and healthy.
We long for a “Shangri-La” experience today. Baby boomers want to continue to look and feel like when they were in their 30’s. This quest for perpetual youth is the driving force behind the success of Viagra, Rogaine, cosmetic surgery and nutritional supplements. They generate the 3.7-dollar sales for the anti-aging market today.1
When I was growing up, there was a young man in my village named Gilberto who went house-to-house peddling 7 Essences, a bottled concoction that was supposed to be a cure-all. Today, the media are heavily punctuated with advertisements of today’s “essences.
Paul Zane Pilzer, in his book The Wellness Revolution, wrote that the wellness industry would be the next big economic wave of the future. Expounded on the potential economic impact of this trend, Pilzer predicted that “wellness . . . would be the industry in which the greatest fortunes of the new century would be created – fortunes eclipsing even those of the Internet billionaires of the late 1990s.”2
There is always a place for natural, scientifically formulated products to supplement our diet and relieve our aches and pains, but that is not where we should begin our quest for total health. If we follow the suggestions of the “health and wellness” peddlers today, we would be approaching the subject of health like the proverbial blind men who got to feel an elephant for the first time. To the man who got its belly, the elephant was like a wall; to the one who got its ear, the elephant was like a fan; and to the one who got its leg, the elephant was like a tree.3
The best and beneficial way is to learn the principles by which we as human beings were designed to live and function.
Is the “Shangri-La” experience attainable here and now? Is it an impossible dream? Where do we begin our quest for health and wellness?
In The Sound of Music, there is an instance of profound wisdom when Governess Maria, in teaching the von Trapp children how to sing says, “When we read we begin with a, b, c; when we sing we begin with do, re mi . . . .”4
In the Beginning Was Health.
In his Philosophy of Health syllabus, Mervyn G. Hardinge, M.D., founding dean of the School of Health at Loma Linda University, states that “Health came first; disease is an interloper. It came when sin entered the world, when man began to violate moral and spiritual law.”5
Believe it or not, there was a real “Shangri-La” that existed a long time ago. It was called the “Garden of Eden.” But as in the Lost Horizon, human beings began to age dramatically and eventually die once they got out of that idyllic place.
The Biblical narrative of origins is very specific about the nature of human life. In Genesis, the book of beginnings, we find foundational principles that define what it means to be a healthy individual. We shall explore those principles in this series.
Let me interject that, in writing this series of articles, I wanted my readers to experience the following benefits:
- To know, appreciate, practice and promote the principles of total health.
- To have access to a total health and wellness information and support network.
- To provide an opportunity for readers to earn a decent financial reward for participating in this information dissemination program.
I would like to add that this approach to health affirms true principles the understanding of which helps one avoid the traps on the way of this generation’s vigorous quest for health and wellness.
My motivation for this initiative is based on the following core values:
God. I believe in a benevolent God who created the universe and continues to sustain life on this planet.
Purpose. I believe that God has a design and purpose for human life and for everyone who is born in the world.
Knowledge. I believe God has revealed that design and purpose in nature and in His special revelation, the Bible.
Community. I believe helping each other enhances our quality of life.
To put a handle on the philosophy of health that I have come to embrace, I have designed an acronym that helps me remember the principles involved in this series. I hope this system will be helpful to you as well.
My acronym for the foundational principles of total health and wellness is GARDENS©, elaborated and defined as follows:
God — The Source and Sustainer . . .
Atmosphere – The Cradle and Environment . . .
Relationships – The Meaning and Fulfillment . . .
Decisions – The Direction and Destiny . . .
Exercise – The Function and Purpose . . .
Nutrition – The Nourishment and Sustenance . . .
Salvation – The Restoration and Perpetuation . . .
. . . of Life, Health, and Happiness
The Story Behind GARDENS©
In the early 1970s, I sat in a “Philosophy of Health” class taught by the late Mervyn Hardinge, founding dean of the School of Health at Loma Linda University at the then SDA Theological Seminary (Far East), now Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS).
During one class session, Dr. Hardinge challenged his students to incorporate teaching of doctrines and principles of health in the Bible in their public presentations. The GARDENS© model of health promotion and education is a fulfillment to that assignment.
My vison for this model is to inform, inspire, and encourage my readers to live life to its fullest.
Instead of beginning with disease, drugs, or even anatomy and physiology, I believe that health promotion ad education should start, continue, and end with God and what He has provided for our health and happiness as revealed in the Bible and affirmed by research evidence.
As Lorraine Day, MD said, “Simply put, the process of getting well is the process of getting to know God.”7
1 O’Leary, L. and Velasco, P. (2018) “The industry of wellness, by the numbers.” Retrieved from https://www.marketplace.org/2018/01/04world/wellness-craze-numbers
2 Pilzer, P. (2007). The new wellness revolution: How to make a fortune in the next trillion-dollar industry. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale, Inc.
3 Saxe, J. (1881) The poems of John Godfrey Saxbe. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company.
4 Wise, R. (Producer and Director). (1965). The sound of music [Motion Picture]. United States: 20th Century Fox.
5 Hardinge, M. (1980). A philosophy of health, Loma Linda, California: School of Health, Loma Linda University.
6 The Bible narrative of origins is very specific about the nature of human life (Genesis 1 – 11, NKJV.
7 Day, L. (1997). You can’t improve on God. Thousand Palms, California: Rockford Press.