Use it or Lose it

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Well.  That’s the last time I go three weeks without exercising!!

Due to my neck issues, cold weather, and changing sleeping patterns of my little girl, I went three full weeks without any exercise.  Four days ago I started up again, and seriously, I can barely walk.  My muscles are very sore.  I was shocked at how much ground I had lost!  My stamina was less, muscle strength lower, definitely slower and in need of more breaks during the workout.

Yesterday as I was glaring down Jillian on my exercise DVD, wondering how I was going to get through the next circuit of torture…I tried to get my mind off the pain by thinking through my situation.  I know that physical and spiritual things are closely related.  (If you want to study it more, I suggest 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul talks about the “natural” and the “spiritual” and how they relate to one another.)   As I thought about how much ground I had lost physically in three weeks, it led me to think about other things I could lose if I’m not careful to exercise them.

Here are some things I came up with:

Maintaining an attitude of worship unto the Lord.  Of course worship is a lifestyle, not just a few minutes at a church service.  It’s a posture of the heart.  It’s a choice to glorify God in the midst of any circumstance.  It’s honoring the Creator, the Great I AM, the Almighty God, YHVH….realizing the incredible privilege we have to do this because He pursued us, rescued us, and provided a way for us to spend Eternity with Him.  Simply put:  If I don’t posture my heart to worship Him every single minute of every day, I will end up worshipping something else.  And it could be anything!  Myself.  My husband or children.  Pursuit of money, education or status.  Material things.  Pursuit of health/fitness.  The list goes on forever.  He is God.  I am not.  I need to constantly work on maintaining a heart filled with worship unto the Lord.

Praying and listening to God.  These are disciplines that Christians should be continually working on.  I’m not sure which one is more challenging, but I know you can’t have one without the other (usually).  Because of my season of life with small children, I rarely get a chunk of time alone to kneel and spend time with God in prayer like I used to.  So I have been trying to pray and listen as I go about my day.  It doesn’t take much. God knows my heart.  He even knows what I need before I ask Him for it (Matt. 6:8).  Which leads me back to the previous point.  He already knows my needs.  I can just worship Him and be confident that He is at work on my behalf.  As for the listening part, He speaks through His written Word of course, and through His people, and through nature, and through circumstances, and through whatever way He wants to!  The point is, He is speaking.  He is always speaking even if its just to say, “Wait.  Be silent.  Spend time with Me.”  Am I listening?  Am I praying more, or praying less?  If I’m not in this constant communion with my God, I have to ask myself why not??  Am I used to going about my life without talking to and hearing from Him?  Do honestly think I can manage without Him?

Being uncomfortable.  If the top two points aren’t hard enough, let me throw this one in.  If I want to run a marathon next year (which I do), I’m going to have to push myself to very uncomfortable levels in running to achieve that goal.  Consequently, if I want to grow in my walk with the Lord, and in my relationships with others I will need to be willing to step out of apathy and comfort in order to do so.   Do I want my faith to increase?  Then I need to be ready for it to be tested.  Do I want to learn how to help the helpless and needy?  Then when a need presents itself, I will have to actually find a way to meet that need.  Do I want my marriage to increase in intimacy?  Then I must choose to love Shane with vulnerability, forgiveness, honesty and no strings attached…regardless of how he chooses to love me.  Do I want my children to grow up with strong Bible-founded convictions?  Then I absolutely must be willing to be ridiculed and who knows what else as we set the Word of God as the standard of our home, time and time again.  There’s nothing comfortable about it:  if I want to cultivate these things in my life I will have to practice them.

The amazing thing about exercising is the more you do it, the more you want to do it.  I’m praying for myself, and for whoever is reading this blog, that the same is true about the above points.  The more we worship, the more we will want to worship.  The more we pray and listen to our Heavenly Father, the more we will desire His voice and His presence above all others.  The more growth and change we are open to, the more we will allow ourselves to be uncomfortable.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!  What do you think are some other things in the category of “Use it or Lose it”?  What ways have you found to foster growth or strength in your life?  I’m glad we’re in this together!  I may need 2 ibuprofen to get through my next workout, but I’m going to do it.  And I’ll keep worshipping.  And keep praying and listening.  And keep getting uncomfortable.  How about you?

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