Are You On the Beam Or Off the Beam?
By Don Umphrey
(with scriptural citations from the NIV)
Christian author Emmet Fox defined “on the beam” and “off the beam” 92 years ago for people to use as a measurement of their spiritual standing and direction in life. Read them to see how you measure up.
On The Beam
“Those who believe in the All-ness of God, have a spiritual beam upon which to navigate on the voyage of life. As long as you have peace of mind and some sense of the Presence of God you are on the beam, and you are safe, even if outer things seem to be confused or even very dark; but as soon as you get off the beam you are in danger.”
Off The Beam
“You are off the beam the moment you are angry or resentful or jealous or frightened or depressed; and when such a condition arises you should immediately get back on the beam by turning quietly to God in thought, claiming His Presence, claiming that His Love and Intelligence are with you, and that the promises in the Bible are true today.
Being off the beam can lead a person in spiritual directions that turn out to be harmful in any number of ways.
I was off the beam when I started drinking heavily during my senior year of high school. I didn’t make a conscious choice to step away from God; the alcohol made the choice for me. After a few years I claimed to be an atheist. My decade of drunkenness demonstrates the truth of Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other…”
If you have read my previous posts, you know that alcoholism led me to contemplate suicide at age 27 and voluntarily enter a mental hospital. A fellow patient who worked as a trash collector told me that alcohol was the cause of my problems, not the solution as I had long thought. I followed his advice when he recommended that I attend an addiction-recovery group upon leaving the hospital.
The Three-Pronged Disease
It was at the addiction-recovery group where I learned that alcoholism is a three-pronged disease: mental, physical and spiritual. The same is true for any addiction. I was told that my new-found sobriety was dependent on my relationship with God.
It was news to me that my spiritual life had a direct impact on my mental and physical well-being. But the Bible is full of such references.
As detailed in Proverbs 23:29-33, here are results of being off the beam and imbibing heavily in an alcoholic beverage: woe, sorrow, strife, complaints, needless bruises, bloodshot eyes, seeing strange sights, a mind that imagines confusing things. It “bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?”
According to Psalm 38, here’s what David wrote about the aftermath of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his best soldiers, Uriah the Hittite: “Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me. Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.”
Benefits of Staying on the Beam
Now let’s flip this around to see the huge spiritual upside of staying on the beam. In each passage below you will see how spiritual health leads to mental and physical well-being.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken” (Psalm 34: 17-20).
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:7-8).
“The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death” (Proverbs 13:14).
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
“… physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8).
“My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body” (Proverbs 4:20-22).
Each day starts out with a choice of which spiritual path we will follow. But even if we fail—and we will—we can turn back and regain our foothold on the beam.
FYI: Early members of Alcoholics Anonymous had connections with author Emmet Fox. They went to hear Fox deliver spiritual messages and were big fans of his book, The Sermon on the Mount. You may order on-the-beam, off-the-beam posters or wallet cards at my12stepstore.com. These items have listings for each category, such as Honesty and Dishonesty, Faith and Fear.
“New International Version” and “NIV” are registered trademarks of Biblica, Inc. Used by permission.