by Rebecca Livermore
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV).
Paul compares the Christian life to running a race. Athletics require discipline. Even for those who are into exercise, there are likely days they just don’t want to exercise. Some days there are legitimate reasons why a person can’t exercise, such as illness. Unfortunately, those legitimate reasons sometimes snowball into less than legitimate reasons, and before people know it, their exercise routine is totally shot. One day off becomes a week off, and it’s soon been two months since they’ve been to the gym. Can you tell that I’m speaking from experience?
The same thing is true in our spiritual lives. We get off track. We miss a day. We miss a week, and before we know it, our personal quiet times are nothing more than a distant memory.
I’ve been there and done that at various times in my life, and I’ve noticed a common problem that has happened each time. The problem is that when I finally sit down again with my Bible, I don’t quite know where to start. Which book of the Bible should I read? Or should I do a particular study? It’s almost as if I’ve slighted a good friend and don’t quite know how to make amends.
But I try. I go ahead and pick up my Bible and give it my best shot. And it’s hard. Nothing feels quite right. The experience is dry and difficult. I feel frustrated and guilty, because I know the awkwardness is my fault, due to my own lack of diligence.
The same thing happens when I haven’t been to the gym for awhile. I show up, and I feel out of place. I can’t quite remember how to work the different machines. Things just don’t feel quite right. The first time back is anything but fun. And yet since I’m there, I start to exercise.
Awkwardness due to neglect is to be expected. But whether I’m exercising on a spiritual or natural level, the way to beat the awkwardness is to just do it. Usually within a few days, things start to click. I’m reminded of how everything is supposed to work, and it begins to become natural again.
How are things for you in your spiritual walk with the Lord right now? Have you gotten out of the habit of “exercising”? Perhaps you’ve tried a couple of times to get back into it, and it feels uncomfortable and you don’t know where to start. If that’s the case, make a commitment to push through the awkwardness, and do the exercises, even if it’s uncomfortable. I know in no time, you’ll be back on track, enjoying your time at the “gym.”
Father, forgive us for our times of laziness and neglect. Help those of us who have gotten flabby spiritually to get back into shape. Motivate us and bring encouragement to our hearts as we sit down with our Bibles and work toward reestablishing our “exercise” routines. We thank You that You are always there, ready and willing to help us get back into shape. -- Amen.
Thought: An important part of any exercise routine is a plan. The same is true spiritually. If you don’t already have a plan for Bible reading and prayer, consider coming up with one now. Use your journal or spend some time in prayer, grappling with God’s plan to help whip you into shape spiritually.
© 2007 by Rebecca Livermore
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