My age + No exercise = an ever expanding pant size.
But I have also realized that through exercise I actually get the results I'm looking for! There was a time I didn't think it was making any difference, but slowly and surely I am beginning to see the differences. On my physical journey to weight loss there has been the ever faithful, kick your butt companion Jillian Michaels.
I need to workout with someone. If I'm left to myself, I get tired after 5 minutes and think I've done enough. When you have Jillian Michaels telling you, "You can do more" well you have to do more because she'll "come through the TV and grab you" if you don't (and with her personality you believe she really could). She provides the encouragement I need to take it many steps further and to go for it. She has a lot of catch phrases throughout her workouts that I not only apply to my physical working out but also to my spiritual walk.
For instance, today she said,
"You can do it. I won't give you more than you can handle."
Her comment also came to me like a kick in the butt from God. It reminded me of God's very own words; that He has promised in times of temptation not to give us more than we can handle. He will bring us through. I'm in a frustrating season right now and today those words rang clear to me that I can keep going and He will help me through.
"If you want to see a difference you've got to put in the effort. Everyone wants to see a six-pack but no one wants to put in the effort to get one."
I used to look at Jillian and think, "It must be nature not effort that she looks like that." Well after 1 year of doing her workouts, I still have trouble breathing and talking through her workouts. She is able to do the workouts and she is able to talk during them without huffing and puffing. It is clear to me that she does put in a lot of time and effort. Some may be nature but some of it is just plain old hard work.
If we want to see a difference in our Christian lives it does take effort and discipline. We often admire the spiritually strong and think God must have gifted them to be that way, but I think a lot has to do with discipline. As you know, I have admired Bonhoeffer's faith but after studying his life it is very clear that spiritual discipline was important to him. One of the main reasons I believe he was able to walk the path to death with such great faith is that during his life he had poured himself daily over God's Word and let those Words be Words that he lived by. Sometimes we cower from the word discipline because it sounds like a lot of work; but it is very clear to me that spiritual discipline has many rewards that follow it. Just like in the physical world exercise produces very predictable physical results so in the spiritual world God has set it up that spiritual discipline will result in a healthy spiritual life. Here are some verses that show that spiritual discipline produces benefits in the spiritual life:
- Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
- James 4:8-10 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
- Psalm 25:14 14 The Lord tells his secrets to those who respect him; he tells them about his agreement.
- I Timothy 6:11-13 But you, man of God, run away from all those things. Instead, live in the right way, serve God, have faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, grabbing hold of the life that continues forever.
- Galatians 6:8-9 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.