The summer has come and it is time to start exercising. Usually I have the reaction of most people – where I take one look at the weather (rain) and think that I should really listen to that Christian podcast one last time.
On the other hand, I find myself sometimes attacking the pavement with such vigour and determination that I feel like I might create potholes.
I hope that I am describing the experience of most people; we all want something and to a degree start to achieve it, but perhaps feel like there is a bit missing.
A result was envisioned, but never achieved. Turning this to our lives with God, I have always felt that the discipline of exercise can teach us so much about the discipline of relating to God. It takes time, effort and energy. If developing a six-pack is a physical end goal then for me, developing a strong, muscular faith is a spiritual end goal. The question is - how?
How do I develop definition in my faith?
When I think of where the six-pack is; it is right in the core of your body. It also supports other body parts; such as shoulders, chest, head and legs. It also houses all your organs. It goes without saying that it is very important. I think, spiritually that there are "core" elements to our faith that keep us rooted and strong. When we choose to develop those, we have no choice but to get muscular in our faith and belief. What are they?
Some defining beliefs;
I am loved by God.You never really get over this do you. I feel like all your life you keep refreshing your mind and heart of the awesome power and greatness of God. But the thing I never quite get over is his love; which is still there when I mess up or fail. Or even when I do not honour him or love him back. He always loves me. His love is a core value. It is a value on which to build spiritual muscle, because his love is powerful and life-changing. In his love there is power, freedom, destiny and breakthrough. There is strength and wholeness in his love. It is the one thing that you can access, that WILL NEVER BE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU. You can build your six-pack on his love.
God is kind. There is a great song that I keep listening to. It talks about the kindness of God. My usual response is what have I done to deserve this? God being kind to me looks like; God tenderly caring for me, holding my hand in a tough moment and not laughing at me as I learn a lesson again. It looks like my Father encouraging me and shouting from the side-lines and from the front – "Come on! YOU CAN DO IT!" God calling to others in heaven and saying "Look at Rosie, isn't she doing great. Look at her!"
The gym workout and why I love it
The gym looks dull doesn't it? Those contraptions that bend you the wrong way, have a lot of instructions and make you look funny? Similarly, before I engaged with what it meant to work out spiritually, I must confess that I used to look at people who were "working out" as rather dull. Why do they keep talking about God? Why are they repeating scripture? I did not know how much I needed to work out myself until I saw how flabby I was spiritually. God talks about his love, his kindness, his goodness and yet I did not really believe it or live by it.
All God talks about repeatedly is how if we tithe, he will bless us. Yet I resisted. I was fat. I needed to begin to work out. I saw the effect it was having on other people's lives. When they were faced with challenging situations they did not buckle. They had developed a spiritual six-pack. I wanted that. So I began to read the bible again. I began to jealously protect the time I had with God. I lost the agenda and focussed on his presence. I have begun to get definition to my faith. I have not got a six-pack worthy of the beach yet, but I am getting there.
What I am learning
I am learning that you need to work at it. The time that it takes for a body to change is 6 – 8 weeks. But spiritually it is much longer! Daily seek him and jealously guard the quiet time you have with him. No excuses. Just do it. Spiritual fitness does not come overnight, but if you develop your core you will be ready for anything.
Rosie Robinson resides in Manchester where, in between feeding herself coffee and bagels she works for an international financial services organisation. She attends a lively church called Audacious, enjoys reading, running and watching films and slowly discovering life with Jesus.
Rosie Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosie-robinson.html