“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” John 7:37b (NIV)
When we exercise, we sweat. Especially during cardio-intensive training, we sweat a lot. And then we need to hydrate. The more we sweat, the more we need to hydrate. Common sense, right?
But the same principle applies to the rest of our lives. The more we give out, the more we need to replenish. The more we give away, the more we need to make sure we refill ourselves. A friend of mine calls it soul care. We cannot run on empty. We need to come continually to the source of Living Water and rehydrate.
During this season of life, I often feel the need to rehydrate. As an introvert who is constantly with my young children & play dates & church & small groups, etc. etc, I feel tremendous need during this season to prioritize time to care for my soul and to come to Jesus and be filled with Living Water. For me, this season of life is like a super spin class during super humidity. I am sweating a lot! So, I’m trying to drink a lot of Water during this season.
I don’t know what season you are in or what your temperament is, but I know that you need to hydrate. You need to hydrate everyday. If you are not “sweating” a lot this season, them perhaps it’s your standard 64 ounces a day. But if you are sweating a lot, like I am, 64 ounces won’t do. Just as I’d remind you to make sure you are well hydrated after exercise, I wish to remind you to make sure your soul is well hydrated too!
“I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.” Psalm 143:6 (NLT)
Many of us approach prayer as if it is our time to convince God to agree with us in our requests. And yes, there are a few Biblical examples of when a person’s persistence in prayer alters the outcome. But more often than not, prayer is about getting me more in tune with God’s perspective and God’s will. Prayer is more about changing me. So an effective “posture” for entering time with God is a posture of openness and receptivity — ready to listen and hear, laying our hearts before God and even more eager to hear His heart.
So when I enter exercise, I try to enter it in a posture of prayer — ready to devote this time to Him … to listen, to hear and to surrender my will to His. It’s a time that I set aside to be with Him while I care for this body He gave me. Where, when I hit physical struggles and limitations, I am reminded of my personal and spiritual struggles and limitations … and I receive encouragement or admonishment or insight that I need from the One who made me.
For me, it’s easiest to do this in the exercise space I’ve created in my basement, where I’ve hung posters and verses and can play my worship music. But even when I’m at the health club, I strive to maintain a posture of prayer. Open and ready to listen or respond to what He brings.
The body, mind and spirit are deeply intertwined. God made us that way. The exercise of one aspect of us is not and should not be isolated from the exercise of another. Try entering your workouts in a posture of prayer. I think you will find that He exercises more than just your body!
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (NASB)
When we take care of our bodies, we are living by this principle presented in Hebrews 11. How? Because when we exercise, we do not immediately see the results. We trust that the exercise we are doing today will have beneficial results in the future. When we eat a well-balanced diet, we do not immediately see the good it does to our bodies. Instead, we trust that the food is doing good things inside of us, and perhaps we will eventually see the benefits on the outside. When we honor the bodies God has given us and care for them appropriately, we do so in faith that the efforts will be well worth it.
The same is true with our spiritual disciplines, isn’t it? When we read our Bibles each morning, we do so as a faith exercise and a discipline. Yes, we might “feel” a little better after doing so (just as we might feel a little better after a workout), but the hope is that the real benefit is much more far-reaching. When we build prayer and solitude and charity into our lifestyle, we do so with the hope that through it God will develop a more Christ-like person in us. And God promises that He will. The spiritual disciplines we incorporate into our lives might have momentary and immediate impact, but the real benefit is much more cumulative and long-term.
So press on. Exercise the faith that is given to you. The faith we use in the physical realm is the same faith we use in the spiritual realm … for God created us as one integrated being. (See SHEMA post on April 3, 2014). And the One we serve is faithful to complete what He has begun.
“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.” 1 Corinthians 10:23a (NASB)
We all gravitate towards the things we like … the things that are easy for us … the things we prefer. And we all tend to avoid the things we don’t like … the things that are hard for us … the things take more work. It’s part of human nature. That’s why Paul reminds us to choose wisely.
The same is true in regard to caring for our bodies. Maybe you are into eating well, but not into exercising … or vice-versa. Perhaps you love cardio-training but not resistance training. Perhaps you are great at working your body but not at giving it the proper rest it needs. God gives us the freedom to choose — to decide how we spend our time & energy in stewarding what He has given us. Yes, it is lawful for you to do your sixth cardio workout of the week … but perhaps it would be more profitable to do some resistance training … or even to rest your body. Yes, you can work out like a fiend and then go”reward” yourself with a burger & fries. But perhaps it would be more profitable to reward your body with what it really needs (like proteins, fruits & vegetables).
For me, I need reminders to choose wisely about as many things as I can. So, here’s your reminder:
All things are lawful. But not all things are profitable. Choose wisely.