It’s week four of a renewed effort to work out here at our house. There have been several days of aches and pains, lots more water drinking and some planning and setting alarms to make it happen. We are finally hitting our stride and the initial torture is becoming a welcome routine. We are seeing results: toned muscles, increased stamina, and endorphin triggered feelings of well-being. Everyone knows the results do not come with only 1 day or even 1 week of beginning to work out. We realize it is a process. Muscles develop over time. The heart muscle is strengthened over time. Weight loss and overall fitness accrues over time.
Why is it then that we don’t apply some of those considerations we know about physical fitness to our spiritual fitness? Let’s paste the physical truths over into the spiritual realm.
The Preparation. You have to plan to do it or you won’t.
- Set the alarm for an earlier time to do physical or spiritual discipline!
- Have the gear ready. We lay the workout clothes out for physical fitness. Spiritually we need to have all our “gear” ready: Bible, notebook, and pen at a minimum.
- Expect resistance. Muscles ache and bodies are weary, tired, or we feel lazy that day, but we fight through it for physical exercise because we are working for a future long term goal. Spiritually we won’t want to get up and do it some days. We all have to fight against tiredness, weariness, laziness and the enemy! Fight through it for that long term goal – spiritual health. We are building faith muscles!
- Have your Go To place! For me it’s the track at the soccer field on sunny days and the treadmill or bedroom floor on really stormy/cold days. Spiritually, it’s my back deck, or my big cushy livingroom chair if it’s rainy or cold.
- Begin gently. I didn’t run a marathon my first morning out. And we don’t decide to outline a whole book of the Bible our first morning into developing a habit of time with the Lord. Stretches and light exercise for the first day physically equals prayer time, reading a verse or paragraph, and journaling one (1) truth the Lord touched my heart with through those scriptures.
- Build up over time. After a month a faster pace, longer time and heavier weights are in order, as are more intense prayer, a longer time, deeper study of the Word, and finding a way each day to apply what you learned or share it with someone else.
- Vary the routine. Everyone who counseled me on starting back exercising said, “Find something you like to do and do it consistently. But when you feel bored and tired of it, throw in something new for variety.” Same with the spiritual. Keep that routine going, but throw in something new. Instead of just reading the Bible try these: *Listen to it! – on 1.5 speed – while you walk on the treadmill! *Study it with your Strong”s concordance beside you to look up the meanings of Greek or Hebrew words. *Hand copy a verse, paragraph, or chapter. *Memorize a verse. *Outline a chapter. *Paraphrase it in your own words. *Draw it out with symbols. *Or my favorite – Underline key words asking your self 3 questions 1) What do I see? 2)What does that mean? 3)How do I apply it / What should I do in response?
- Ride that wave. When you find your sweet spot and it has become a habit, ride that wave! Let the normalcy of it or the joy of it or the after-effects of it be a force to propel you to keep on – physically or spiritually!
- Toned muscles. Our faith is often small because we do not work it out. As you grow and have faith in small things you will have the spiritual strength to have faith in the more challenging things we face.
- Increased stamina. We will find a desire to go further with the Lord, not get winded and overwhelmed by our time with Him, and we will be fit for the long haul in life spiritually.
- Weight loss. The weight of this world that we carry will begin to seem easier over time – but remember how slowly that happens physically – the weight seems to come off in tenths of an ounce some weeks! It happens very slowly spiritually too. But look back in one year’s time and you’ll be amazed.
- Feelings of well-being. As we spend time with the Lord and lay our worries in His hands to handle, and as we immerse ourselves in the truths of scripture, we gain a sense of well-being in knowing that God is for us and will go with us.
- Increased overall health and fitness. Just as a year of consistent physical exercise yields surprising results in overall fitness (BP down, diabetes under control, joints stronger, easier breathing, coming off medicines, etc.), spiritual exercise yields results we can’t imagine: peace, wisdom, contentment, relief from worry and fear, growth, etc.
So the challenge to you today – Get Spiritually Fit! Go after God like you go after your exercise program! Or for some of us, go after God first and He’ll help us with that desire to go after physical exercise. How do you do it? Plan ahead each night – set the alarm – be prepared. Expect resistance at first, but Do It Anyway! Find your place and make it a sacred place for you and Your Father to meet. Begin gently – build up over time – vary the routine – then ride the wave! You will gain more than you can imagine!