Breaking a Sweat—Physical and Spiritual Fitness

By on February 12, 2020
Spiritual fitness

As I approached my forties, the ole’ metabolism began to slow a teensy bit. The girl who could inhale a box of doughnuts in one sitting, without receiving red-light notification from the bathroom scale, began to physically expand. As I careened into my fifties, my metabolic rate slammed on brakes so hard I face-planted into the steering wheel.

Something had to be done.

With fear and trembling, I purchased a gym membership. Surely the stress of entering this intimidating new world would burn a few calories—and help me drop a size or two.

On my first day in, I expended more calories trying to understand how the equipment worked than actually using it. I smiled and nodded and gave the trainer my undivided attention, convinced I would be that woman who had to study the little graphics on the side of each apparatus and would harsh everyone’s mellow by impeding gym traffic flow.

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Left alone, I got busy. As casually as possible, I studied the instructions and used my peripheral vision to watch the roomful of young, fit bodies in their adorable outfits. If I could achieve even a touch of that kind of fitness, my sweetheart might consider renewing our marriage vows. Hmm.

Then I noticed a woman across the room. She looked out of place and unsure of herself. Her workout clothes might have been cute and trendy a few decades ago, but they shone in stark contrast to the apparel of the tiny fashionistas around the room. As she struggled, I felt a touch of sympathy. Bless her heart.

Then my vision focused. Oh. My word. Is that a wall of mirrors?

I slunk back to my car and headed for the nearest department store. Bless her heart, indeed.

After the first week of my hit-and-miss routine, I realized my well-intentioned approach to exercise wasn’t going to change my physical condition for the better. Dabbling in a healthy lifestyle would never lead to the lasting changes I needed for overall health. Intense, sweat-it-out, down and dirty effort was required.

Spiritual FitnessWhat a mirror image of our spiritual lives.

Oh, how tempting to dabble in prayer, Bible reading, and corporate worship, skimming the surface of a life of faith. Then the inevitable storms descend, and we wonder why our roots don’t hold against relentless battering.

If we competed in a marathon without the proper training, we would drop from fatigue in the first mile or two. Without consistent physical conditioning, we are assured of failure.

So why do we attempt to stand under life’s long-distance run with the strength of rarely used spiritual muscle? Why do we pray-on-the-go and wonder why we don’t hear that still small voice?

God’s word is rich with stories of men and women who moved beyond a shallow faith-life into a deep, abiding, soul-strengthening relationship with their Creator. Then, when faced with the unimaginable, they stood poised—ready for battle.

As Esther stood before her husband-king to intercede for the lives of the Jewish people (see Esther 4:16), she didn’t rely on a wisp of a prayer. Through fasting and the relentless seeking of God’s heart, her soul was fortified with strength and wisdom. Her roots, her anchor was deep, and when she witnessed storm clouds gathering, she relied on her spiritual exercise routine—time with the source of all wisdom.

We are called today to live lives of strength and honor—to glorify God in every season. Like Esther, God placed each of us in time and location of his choosing, for a unique purpose. Our responsibility is to stay soul-fit and eager to hear his voice.

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Physical fitness requires time, commitment, and grit—even more so to keep our seasoned metabolism in gear. There is value in caring for the body God gave us and in staying fit for service through the decades.

Spiritual fitness requires the same focus, plus reliance on the Holy Spirit for wisdom, guidance, strength, and perseverance. And the best part?

The benefits of soul-investment reach into eternity.

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 (1 Timothy 4:8).

(Adapted from Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone—Inspiration for Women in the Middle)

Leigh Ann Thomas is a wife, mother, grammy, author, speaker, and Peanut M&Ms enthusiast. She has penned four books, including Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone—Inspiration for Women in the Middle (Elk Lake Pub. Inc.), and Ribbons, Lace, and Moments of Grace—Inspiration for the Mother of the Bride (SonRise Devotionals, LPC). You can find Leigh Ann on her front porch daydreaming story plots or on LeighAThomas.com. Connect on Twitter at @LThomasWrites.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Carol Doyel

    February 23, 2020 at 11:49 am

    Such a great analogy of physical and spiritual fitness, and endurance! We’re going to need it for our last stretch to finish strong.

    • Leigh Ann Thomas

      February 26, 2020 at 4:46 pm

      Carol, you are so right! I want to finish strong, to be all God created me to be. Thank you for commenting. Blessings on your journey!

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Breaking a Sweat—Physical and Spiritual Fitness