Fitness: for the body and the soul

Written by: Vivian Wilson

I have been active in sports my whole life.  I love physical activity.  I bowl once a week, and I love to play golf.  But I am not one who gets excited about working out at a gym or any place else for that matter. I have done it, but my motive was mostly vanity.

I have actually participated in “boot camp”.  This was not a “sissyfied” boot camp.  This boot camp was led by an ex-marine.  His name was Casey.   (Not a very manly name for a marine, but I digress).  It was held outside in 90 plus degree weather.  The equipment that Casey provided consisted of sandbags–HEAVY sandbags, tires–BIG tires, and pipes–pipes filled with CONCRETE.  It was a fun-filled hour of torture three days a week.  On Friday, we ran two miles carrying the pipes after doing other “fun stuff”.

No one made me do this. I chose to do it. Why? you ask.  Vanity.

I wanted to lose weight and look good.  It worked, at least the weight loss part. The problem is, if you stop exercising for any length of time, the good results begin to fade and before you know it, you are back to square one. So physical fitness must be a life-style. Everyone, well maybe not everyone, but 99% of you will agree that exercise is very important for good health. We know it is good for us.

If we know things are good for us, why don’t we do them?  Why is that? I believe motive is the answer.

Motive is defined by Webster as “…that which incites to motion or action”.

Obviously, vanity isn’t a good enough reason for me to change my lifestyle when it comes to physical exercise. What if my motive was 1 Corinthians 6:19-20?

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore, honor God with your body.”

Well, now I am feeling convicted.  What if my motive was obedience?  Now that opens a can of worms. I’ve been talking about physical fitness. But what about something even more important—my “spiritual fitness”?  This requires exercise also.

Casey didn’t focus on the whole body in that one hour. He chose certain muscles, our quads for instance, and worked them to our limit. I think God does something similar with our “spiritual bodies”.  For instance, last year the focus was on my “trust muscle”.  He gave me situations and circumstances that required me to stretch my trust in Him. While he did that before, and will continue to strengthen my trust, it was the focus last year.

Last week, God revealed to me the spiritual muscle on which He will focus this year. It is my “surrender muscle”. OUCH!  This is both very scary and very exciting.

Webster defines surrender this way:

1.  To yield possession of or power over to another

2.  The act of surrendering one’s person to another

To choose to surrender to God’s will, to yield to God’s will over mine, is absolutely essential to be a disciple of Jesus.  In Luke 14:33 we read “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”.

Complete surrender is what God requires.

So what would motivate me to completely surrender to God?  It is my love for Him out of gratitude for all He has done for me, beginning with my salvation, and because He has taught me that I can trust Him because of who He is.

Just like physical muscles, we can’t see daily changes in our “spiritual muscles”, but over time with exercise they become stronger. As God gives me opportunities to choose to surrender to His will this year, I will grow into the person He created me to be, and to be used for His glory and the benefit of His kingdom.

I must be intentional, consistent, and focused.  I must also be mindful of that which incites me to action.

When I started writing this, I wasn’t quite sure where this would end. But here it is—I am convicted!  I will take better care of my “temple”, starting with daily exercise.  And I will pay attention and look for opportunities to surrender.  This is going to be a challenge, but God knows what he is doing and with whom he is dealing.  It will be and exciting Year!

A work in progress,  Vivian