Saturday, January 24, 2009


For the past 10 years I have run 3-4 miles 3-4 times a week. It is a routine I started in an effort to lose the baby weight from my pregnancy with Chandler. For the first three years it was a dreaded task--every single time I went. Then it became a tolerable ritual--I still didn't like to do it, but I liked how I felt because I did it. Eventually, over the last two years or so, running had actually become a beloved habit. I no longer HAD to run, I WANTED to run.

But in December Spokane got 70 inches of snow--and it was veritably impossible for me to run for about three weeks. At first, this was crazy-making. My running had become an addiction, and I felt downright fidgety when I couldn't run every other day or so. I am certain that my running hiatus contributed to a major flare up of my insomnia, a two-week battle with constipation, and the TILT reading that registers when I step on the scale. But despite the negative side effects of my abundant inactivity, my body did finally adjust to a sedentary life. I could have started running again about three weeks ago, but I had been lazy long enough that the urge to run had completely escaped me.

So while I am once again sleeping and, well, "regular," the bonus pounds from the holidays are still hanging around, limiting me to the larger sizes in my wardrobe and creating a overwhelming desire to shower blind-folded. I realized it was time to dig out the running shoes from the bottom of my closet and hope that my now snug running pants didn't offend my neighbors.

It did occur to me that my fitness level might have decreased, since the most strenuous workouts I had endured in six weeks were carrying laundry and kneading bread dough. I did not, however, expect to be completely out of shape. I ran ONE pathetically slow mile, and I thought I was going to DIE. I was winded, nauseated, and exhausted from a very short run on flat terrain. It probably didn't help that I had eaten half a pound of Jelly Bellys just before I went. After ten years of running, it took only six weeks for me to lose any endurance I had built.

While I was catching my breath (which, honestly, was like an hour long process) I began to think of how often the Bible likens our spiritual training to physical training. When I am in the habit of seeking God everyday, it goes from being something I "ought" to do to something I "want" to do. I even begin to feel disjointed and restless if I have not been in the Word. But when I let the habit slide, when I move from accepting grace for a missed day to embracing excuses for missed weeks and months, I wonder how drastically my spiritual fitness is compromised.

Right now, as an American, I can survive as a pretty fat Christian--spiritually speaking. But there may be a day when I am called to give an answer for the reason for my hope. I may one day need to stand firm in the face of tremendous temptation. I may even be called to withstand pain or persecution for the sake of Jesus. When that day comes, I don't want to find myself gasping for air, stumbling from weak spiritual muscles. I want to be strong.

Strength doesn't happen on accident. Strength cannot be achieved overnight. Strength is the result of consistent training, day after day, week after week, month after month, and finally year after year. Building strength, in body or spirit, is a long-term commitment--an effort that becomes a joy.
Weakness takes no effort at all.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

I Corinthians 9:25-27

1 comment:

  1. How is it that you are able to put words to the ideas swimming around in my head that i cannnot seem to express? Thanks for your thoughts put into words so well.