“You mean you do all that and you’re not even training for anything?” my girlfriend said to me from the passenger’s seat with a bewildered expression on her face as I described some of my workout regimen. I replied “I just want to be healthy and fit. And if something does happen to come up, like a race, or a long run or ride with a friend, I want to be able to say yes.”
And yet, her question did make me stop and wonder if I was being a bit excessive. I will be the first to admit that I have a tendency to go overboard on some things and become a bit obsessive in certain areas. I believe exercise is one of those areas. So it certainly wasn’t paranoia that made me take a step back and analyze my exercising habits. It is true that I want to stay healthy and fit. I want to be able to at least go out and run a 5k or 10k tomorrow, or join a friend on a long bike ride. And some day, I want to be able to run after my children and pick them up and twirl them around. I’m certainly not an athlete. But it does seem like the older I get, the more effort I have to put into staying fit. Can I get an amen?
The immediate afterthought was to ask myself if I put at least the same effort or more into my spiritual fitness. I’ve come to understand that anything that takes more time and energy from me than focusing on God becomes an idol. When I love something more than I love the Lord, it becomes my god. I don’t want anything to take that type of precedence in my life. And I know that these things don’t happen overnight; it’s a slow fade as they say, it’s a series of choices that build on each other. So, it’s best to nip it in the bud.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 says “…train yourself to be godly. For 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.”
So it’s not a bad thing for us to want to be in good shape and stay healthy. In fact, I think we are even better stewards when we keep in mind that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit and we are given the privilege to be good stewards, including over our bodies.
But we are not just physical beings. I like the quote by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” So we need to train ourselves spiritually. What does that look like for you? In this area, one need not compare themselves to others, though it may be informative to ask around for ideas. There are many spiritual practices including reading the Bible daily, a set aside prayer time, a practice of prayer throughout the day, meditating on scripture, fasting, reading other literature, writing or journaling… I could go on and on. Though it remains, there are actions to take and ways to be that can incorporate a spiritual practice. But are we doing them?
Just like my physical exercise seems to need more intentionality to it as I age, I feel the same is true for my spiritual exercise. I have to put a little more thought and planning into my spiritual exercise, switch it up from time to time to flex my muscles, and focus on it being the vehicle to keeping me healthy and fit for God. Jesus said, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:44. So be ready my friends, stay fit, and stay healthy. Blessings!