Why is it so hard to stay true to our course. The Bible is full of so many reminders like: "let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." Hebrews 12:1-2. Or "Run in such a way as to get the prize" 1 Corinthians 9:24. Or one of my favorites Hebrews 12:12 "So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong." (Apparently I like Hebrews!) I must confess to having bloody knees from falling down so many times along the way. Praise God for his love that picks me up and sets me back on course!
In the last month I've been trying to exercise regularly. I like to take a long walk in the morning or evening when I can. If I can't get outside I use one of the exercise videos I have at home. My progress has been slow but I'm beginning to see a difference in my strength and endurance. The more I walk the farther and faster I can go, the stronger I feel, the more energy I have. My leg muscles are becoming more defined and stronger. It's the same with our spiritual muscles. When I'm faithful to continuous spiritual 'exercise' I see results. We exercise our spiritual muscles through obedience, each time we obey we get a work out. The more I obediently practice the disciplines of prayer, study of God's word, reflection, worship, etc. the stronger I am, the more spiritual energy I have. When I practice obedience in forgiveness, patience, resisting temptation, saying no to self, extending love the more defined and stronger my spiritual muscles become.
But it has to be a priority. Physical exercise costs something, discomfort, time, energy, commitment, a little sweat. So does spiritual exercise, it may mean getting up early to read the Word and pray, or taking a stand for something unpopular but true. But the results are so worth it. I still haven't reached my physical goal yet, but I know when I do the rewards will be worth the hard work. The same is even more true for my spiritual goal of maturity in Christ, I know it's worth pursuing above anything else. Even more important than our personal goals of physical health and strength, which may have an affect on a few people, our spiritual health affects the entire body of Christ. When each member is healthy and strong, flexing their spiritual muscles, then the whole church is muscular and strong.
Sometimes I think we believe God is just going to pour out all of his blessings on our lives while we just sit and soak them up. While God is certainly generous and there is nothing we can do to earn his favor, I think that attitude is lazy. God very clearly has said that he blesses the righteous man but resists the proud man. God has expectations of his people and he's God, he has that right. I've been a Christian for so many years though, sometimes I forget. I take for granted his grace and generosity. I get lazy in my discipline. But the truth is, I pay the price when I do. God has provided all the equipment we need for spiritual victory (Ephesians 6, armor of God) but we have to use it. His word can't renew our mind if we don't read it, he can't commune with us if we don't approach him in prayer, his Spirit won't fill us unless we ask. I believe so strongly if we avail ourselves of the resources his love has offered us the difference in our lives will be astounding. So, I've decided to take the spiritual challenge of a 40 day journey of prayer, to go along with my physical challenge of regular exercise. The challenge to myself is to pray daily for one hour for my family and church. My specific prayer focus for my church is for women's ministry and for God to display miraculous love among the members of the church. So, in 40 days I will report back. I believe with all my heart to have stronger muscles, a new prayer habit and some amazing stories to tell!