“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:37-38 New International Version (NIV)
Flipping a 150 pound tractor tire fifty times in a workout was never a line item on my bucket list. Surprisingly, however, this feat hijacked the list, and I crossed it off with pride on my fiftieth birthday. Ha, who knew?! This girl does have strength, coordination, and endurance.
A year ago, I considered myself a fairly physically fit person, but certainly not someone people recognized from the gym. Thirty minutes on the elliptical and I was good to go. I was not concerned about my biceps or my core, and I had no idea what a TRX or a burpee was.
After a great deal of salesmanship, my husband convinced me that strength training would be good for me to try. Strength training exercises use resistance from things like dumbbells, rubber exercise tubing, and even your own body weight to cause muscles to contract. Physical benefits include improved muscle strength, tone, mass, and endurance. Starting slow, I worked with a trainer to learn proper technique and combine new exercises.
Gradually, I noticed changes in strength, and other, more unexpected things too. I finally understood how to properly lift heavy objects with my legs, and not my back. More conscious of my posture, I found myself keeping my shoulders back and down. Flipping a huge tire fifty times became a possibility. My body continues learning to speak this challenging new language every week. Stronger and wiser, my muscles thank me for it by surprising me with what they can do.
In much the same way, I never considered writing a blog about applying Scripture to life. A far cry from a biblical scholar, I attended church randomly most of my life. A good person equals a “fairly fit” Christian, right? I was not concerned about my spiritual biceps or strengthening my core beliefs, and Bible study classes intimidated me.
When a health crisis hit our family, I found myself desperately wishing my muscles of faith were stronger. I longed for courage, for answers to serious questions, and for peace of mind. I scrutinized how fit my faith was. I could not honestly say I was dedicated to loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind.
Perhaps striving to love God that completely would guide me towards a more “fit faith”? Gradually, I am discovering and adding new spiritual exercises into the routines of my life. Some ideas to power up faith:
Learn about prayer and make it a daily practice. Max Lucado’s book, The Power of a Simple Prayer is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about how to talk to God. Prayer does not have to be a formal, scheduled event; it can take place throughout your day like other conversations.
Express gratitude every day. Just becoming aware of the many things to be thankful for can help us think more positively and ease worry. Use a notebook, an app, or an online journal to record blessings each day.
Seek to understand Scripture. Start understanding and applying Scripture by reading devotions, a life-application Bible, or Christian teaching books. Focus on one verse a day and see what you can learn from it.
Join a supportive network of people who also seek a stronger faith. Support can come in many ways such as attending church, discussing a faith inspired book together, using creative talents, or working on a team project for the community.
Be still. Carving out time to simply sit with a quiet mind can be a very difficult task. Taking this break, however, can rejuvenate us for the challenges we face. Solitude eases worries, brings clarity, and reveals inner strength through the Holy Spirit.
As I see it, improving faith fitness is very similar to improving physical fitness. Exercises should be tailored to an individual’s unique needs. A variety of exercises work best to challenge the mind, body, and spirit. Consistent practice is important for long term benefits. And, the results can inspire others.
Like training in the gym, stretching our faith helps us grow stronger and wiser in new ways. Asking God for help no longer seems like an insurmountable task. Blessings become more apparent than ever before, and we feel grateful to see them. Recognizing the needs of others and showing compassion takes precedence over fulfilling our own needs. And, seeking answers to common faith questions is no longer scary and isolating.
Developing a “fit faith” continues to be a work in progress for me. I do not have a formula to follow for success. What I can say with certainty, though, is that I am in better shape now to handle the next downturn in life.
Prayer for this Week:
Lord, thank you for being my patient trainer as I seek a “fit faith”. Guide me in conversation with you and help me understand how to apply your teachings to my life. Fill my heart with gratitude as I count my blessings each day. Remind me to be still in your holy presence and listen for your direction. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Scriptures to Apply:
Matthew 22:37, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (NIV)
Ephesians 3:16-17, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (NIV)
Romans 4:20, “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,” (NIV)
Questions to Help Make Sense of Life:
How fit is my faith? Are my spiritual muscles getting the workouts they need to sustain me through the ups and downs of life? What can I change in my faith routine to strengthen my love for God?