Friday, January 18, 2008

What's It Gonna Take?

So, I got up and ran this morning…it wasn’t easy and anyone who knows me knows how much I don’t like being cold. In an attempt to remain consistent, I bundled up three layers deep, tied a scarf around my face and hit the pavement. I’ve always enjoyed running, but of course, the older I get…love and action just don’t seem to coincide as often as they did ten years ago, shoot, in 2006 even. I was up to running five miles a day and doing pilates and yoga every other day on rotation. I was a lean 160lbs and feeling GREAT in my size eight!

So here it is the beginning of 2008 and I am anything BUT “lean". I’m still looking pretty good but my body can definitely tell the difference 20lbs have made…okay, 25lbs…but now that I’m running again, losing this weight shouldn’t be too hard. As with any success, it’s a process and I am determined to stick with the plan and reach my goal of running my first half marathon in April—PRAY FOR MEEEEE!? *wink*! I literally had to PRAY to get myself going today. Not only because it was 30 degrees outside, but because well, my bed felt good…but I told myself, if I am to attain my physical goals this year, I have got to stick with it…I determined in my heart that the only way this was going to work was if I practice consistency.

Over the years I have likened a relationship with Christ to getting into shape. When you’re working out, your body feels better, your mind is clearer and overall, you are healthier than when you were on the couch with a pack of cookies. Generally when people start a workout regimen they also commit to eating “right” or at least eating better. No more fried foods, cakes and other sugary snacks and, “I guess I’ll give up Pepsi for now…” When you’re on it, you’re ON it! But if you miss two days…even worse, over the holiday season, you allow yourself to indulge just a “lil’ bit” and the next thing you know, you’ve fallen off of the “horse” and sitting on the couch wondering, “what happened?”

My pastor says to all new Christians at our church that “a storm with Jesus is better than a storm without Jesus.” I cannot explain how true these words are. Just like a person who works out and lives a healthy lifestyle will have a greater chance at fighting illness, depression and other ailments, with a relationship with Christ, the issues of life always seem to be a little easier to bear. Getting to Christ is what’s so difficult. As with getting off the couch and getting active, letting yourself go and allowing God to control your life can be challenging. Not because He makes it challenging, but because by the time we recognize that we’re out of “shape” spiritually, we’re so far gone. We’ve adopted bad habits, bad relationships and everything else of our own will…so, the question is, what’s it going to take to get back in shape?

First it’s going to take confession. Admitting that I am not where I need to be. In the physical, that’d be confessing that I am unmotivated or simply lazy or addicted to chocolate, Pepsi or French fries. In the spiritual, we’d confess first that we are sinners; Confess that we don’t pray enough, that we don’t go to church, or that we have issues with believing in Christ at all. Maybe you struggle with forgiveness or jealousy or adultery…Confess. “I’m out of shape!? I’M NOT PERFECT!?”

Second, we’ve got to believe that we can change and see that we have everything that we need. Whether you join a gym, buy yoga DVDs (and DO what the DVD shows you to do) or just start out walking around the block in the mornings, you have what you need to get in shape. You don’t need high dollar gym memberships or cardio machines to get back into shape and neither do you have to go to the biggest or most popular church in your area. Find what works for you. Start reading the Bible…read a Proverb a day. Try to keep memory verses. Talk to God. Start out praying small prayers and don’t worry about not praying the way you’ve heard others pray…or using big words and sounding “profound” talk to God and ask for direction. You have everything that you need…now use it.

Now that we’re on the right track, remain consistent. Even on those days that you don’t feel like getting up and running or it’s cold and raining out and you don’t feel like driving to the gym, do it anyway. PRESS your way out!!! You’ll continue to see the benefits in your body and mind and you’ll feel accomplished knowing that you were consistent in working toward your goals. It is a cliché but, take it one day at a time. Spiritual conditioning is the same way. You must remain consistent in reading and you’ll find that not only are you reading more and more of the Word, but you’re beginning to become familiar with verses and learning to apply the words to your life. You’ll notice that you’ve moved beyond the simple, “Lord, help me” and are now not only praying for yourself but now you’re praying for others around you.

When you’re on it, you’re on it…as with working out, walking with Christ doesn’t make life easier, it just makes life better. You will still be tempted by your favorite snack, an extra glass of wine and fast food over taking time to cook at home; you’ll be tempted by ex-lovers, new ones. Your patience will still be tested as will your integrity. But do not bend! Stay focused on the prize and you will succeed!!!
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