Monday, August 15, 2011

No Pain, No Gain?

I am trying it a different way this time.  I have done crash/fad diets before.  A couple of years ago, I lost over 40 lbs. in a very short period of time.  The problem was, the day I stopped, the pounds came back fast.  My biggest problem was that the weight came off so fast that I really did not have time to develop a true disciplined habit of this new lifestyle.  This time around, no fad diets.  Just good old fashioned burn more calories than I consume.  Smaller portions, less snacking, more exercising.  It's not fun.  The weight is not melting off at an exciting pace.  I have lost 15 lbs. so far.  What I like most is that I have had time to change habits.  While I am not losing weight as fast as before, I truly believe I will be able to keep it off at this rate.  My goal is to lose another 15 lbs. by mid-September at the latest.

What does this have to do with anything spiritual?  Well, have you ever noticed how often the New Testament uses fitness analogies to spiritual growth?  Does this one sound familiar:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us"
-Hebrews 12:1

I have made my own observations recently about the similarities between spiritual growth and physical fitness that I will be sharing here on this site in the coming days.  I truly believe that they may be very helpful comparisons that can bring you great encouragement in your walk with the Lord.

The first comment I would like to make deals with getting started.  I'll admit - nothing in me looks forward to exercising.  Nothing in me is excited about turning down what tastes good for the sake of what is good for me.  I always have many other things I would rather be doing - like, oh, I don't know - ANYTHING.  In fact, I do not enjoy the process of exercising.  What I like is how I feel later.  I feel like a new man when I am exercising.  If I go a few days without being as disciplined (like on a recent vacation), I feel the difference.  The problem is, until I exercise, I don't know the difference.  I assume everything is fine.

You may find yourself right now feeling like you are doing perfectly fine without daily time in prayer and in God's Word.  The problem is, because you are not exercising your spiritual muscles, you do not know the difference.  Maybe you don't realize just how deep the apathy has set in.  I know, you are busy.  Aren't we all?  I really don't have time to exercise, but I make the time.  In the same way, I have to daily make the time to meet with God.

The old saying, "Just Do It" is actually pretty good.  When it comes to exercise, you just have to do it.  And once you do it, you are glad you did.  You may be feeling like you don't have time to pray or you just don't feel like doing it.  Maybe you can never seem to get your Bible open.  Just do it.  Start.  Go ahead.  You'll be glad you did.

Can I issue a challenge to you?  Take the next 7 days (I know, a holiday falls in there) and spend 1-hour a day with the Lord in worship, prayer and in His Word.  Do whatever you have to do to carve out the time.  Just do it.  Why 1-hour?  Why not start with 10 minutes?  Let me put it this way: if I take a 5-minute walk, that is certainly better than not walking at all.  However, the benefit I will yield will be so small that I will give it up long before I may see any benefit.  I have seen many do this with prayer and Bible reading.  They aim for 10-minutes a day and abandon the discipline out of frustration long before they see any fruit.
So, I will be back soon with another glimpse into spiritual fitness.  But anything else I may say to encourage you will be a waste if you don't actually get started.  So, yes, there will be some sacrifice involved, but isn't that why they say no pain, no gain?

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