“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  Genesis 3:8-9 (NIV)

God’s first plan was to have fellowship with those He created.  From the start, God has desired to do life with those He created in His own image.

But sin interrupted that intimacy.  And many things continue to interrupt our intimacy with God.  At times, we often find ourselves hiding from God, ashamed or afraid, like Adam and Eve.  Other times, we find ourselves too busy to stay connected to God, as there are so many other things pressing for our attention.  And sometimes, we simply have to admit that we haven’t really learned how to stay connected to God in the midst of everyday life activities.  We haven’t disciplined ourselves well enough to be present with God while we do other things.

There’s an old book called Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.  It’s a short little book that beautifully describes the need to practice God’s presence as we go about our day.  (I’d highly recommend it if you haven’t already read it.  It’s powerful … & short!).  Just like we need to practice different skills and exercises and moves, we also need to practice living amongst the presence of God.  We need to practice being constantly aware of and in tune with His presence.

Working out has become  one of those times for me.  It is a time when I practice staying my inner mind on Him while my body and superficial thoughts are focused on my work out.  It’s a time when I practice attending to God while I am also attending to other things.  When I work with clients, my intent is for them to attend and for me to help them attend — both to God and to their workout.

It takes practice to get good at anything.  It takes practice to attend to God.  It takes practice to attend to God while also attending to other things.  Seize the opportunities presented in working out to practice attending to God and your workout.  May it strengthen both your body and your soul.

Hard Work

“So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you are really among those God has called and chosen. ” 2 Peter 1:10a (NLT)

When we consider the spiritual aspect of our lives, most Christians know that staying strong in their faith takes work, and growing in our faith takes hard work.  While we know that God is ultimately the One who causes the growth (see 1 Corinthians 3:6-9), we also know that there is some mysterious partnership between us and God — we know that we have to participate by working hard to maintain and strengthen our faith.

The same is true about the physical aspect of our lives.  While God created it as an amazing organism that grows and heals itself … in order for it to obtain its higher and God-given potential, hard work is required.  We have to be thoughtful about what we eat, how much exercise we get, how must rest we give our bodies, etc.

The Greek word used in 2 Peter for “work hard” also can be translated as “be more diligent” or “give diligence.”  Many of us fall into one of two categories:  either we are diligent about the spiritual aspect of our lives or we are diligent about the physical aspect.  Given time restraints and responsibilities, many of us can only find time to give diligence to one.  What I wish to propose is that we not consider it and either-or choice, but that we could see there is a both-and option.

Caring for my body is an act of worship.  God created my body and gave it to me to steward during my life on earth.  Practically speaking, my exercise room has become my sanctuary.  My time on the treadmill has become my best prayer time.  It’s a time I am open and listening and laying things before God and have the space to hear Him respond.  Eating well has strengthened my discipline and self-control (not to mention I feel better too!).  Getting enough rest not only reminds me to let go of things and trust God but also to value and respect my personal limits.  I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

So, dear brothers and sisters, I trust that you are working hard, but I ask you to consider your hard work not to be an either-or choice, but a both-and.  (For more, see April 7, 2014 entry).

The Body

“For we know that … when we die and leave this earthly body, we will have … an eternal body made for us by God Himself …. [W]e will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-3 (NLT)

Have you ever wondered if the body is important to God? Have you ever searched the Bible to see if the body mattered to God?

While I haven’t yet made an exhaustive search of the Scriptures on this matter, here are a few clues I have found along the way:

– God “formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7), and God made woman out of Adam’s own body (Genesis 2:22). God Himself fashioned the human body.  He made it in His own image (Genesis 1:27) and breathed His own breath into it. He also made male and female interconnected in numerous ways.  Both God’s attention to detail and His desire to fashion us in His own image would indicate great passion and care.

– When we die, we are given a new body; we are not simply spirit form in the afterlife, but with a new body.  (See also 1 Corinthians 15:40, 54; Romans 8:23.)  To me, this indicates the importance of a body from God’s perspective. I cannot fully grasp His rationale, but the body must be important. If our spirit/soul was all that mattered to God, why wouldn’t we be purely spirit/soul in the afterlife? Instead, God grants us a new body.

– Followers of Jesus are called the “body of Christ” (see e.g., 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Romans 12:4-5, Ephesians 2:16, etc.). While most consider this to be a metaphor, why would God choose this particular metaphor? God surely wouldn’t have picked this metaphor if the body was insignificant and didn’t matter to Him!

– Scripture says that a believer’s body is “actually part of Christ” and “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:15, 19). Scripture tells us to honor God with our body (1 Corinthians 6:20). Enough said?

Each of these clues, to me, reveal that the body God made for us is important.  It matters to God. Yes, they body is passing away, but for whatever reasons, it remains important to Him.

Is it important to you?