For this cause, I’m not afraid to look silly.
Over the years, I have hit a parked car setting the alarm off, literally drawing the owners of the vehicle to their front porch on Christmas morning . . . I have hit a parked work truck with the workers in it, eating their lunch . . . I have also seen passing drivers shake their heads and wonder ‘what in the world?’ Why? I was walking up the hill backward. If we are to T.H.R.I.V.E., Exercise will be a staple in our diets! Gyms are still closed here in Southern California, but we need the refreshment and recharging of exercise now if we’ve ever needed it! Brisk walks outside are so great--raising the heart rate, swinging the arms and flexing abdominal muscles - all the while taking in the deep blue of the sky, artful cloud formations, the birds that fly overhead, flowers and trees--oh, so good. And walking backward up the hill? Different muscle groups, plus a spectacular view of the ocean. Exercise . . . does it matter? And by the way, does it matter if professing Christians stay fit? Is there a case to be made that fitness matters? I believe so. Otherwise, why would Paul say that he ‘buffets his body to make it his own so that in the end, he would not be disqualified’? 1 Corinthians 9.27. I have actually said that exact verbiage to myself when I was engaged in some strenuous exercise or another, picturing the apostle Paul--I mean, how in the world did the guy survive stonings, shipwrecks, imprisonments and walking 10,000 miles if he was not quite fit?! It challenges me to go harder. (plus that verb ‘buffet’ is most excellent--from Merriam Webster, buffet: ‘to strike sharply, especially with the hand’) While he was no competitor on an athletic playing field, Paul kept himself in shape. Asking a reader-friend if exercise/fitness is important to the Christian, she had some profound thoughts. ‘Well, firstly we are the temple of the Holy Spirit…right? [yep, that’s right--1 Corinthians 6.19-20!] When we share our faith, I think it’s important for people to see our joy and our health--that we have some victories in our lives that you can see from our appearance. Exercise is a way to be mindful of the blessing of a body that can move and breathe and climb hills and walk miles--things we shouldn’t take for granted … If our bodies are strong from regular exercise, we also won’t be constantly focused on our lack of energy or aches and pains…” Thanks, Amy! And here’s my thing: I do not want my physical condition to hold me back from anything I believe God is calling me to do. I do not want to be disqualified, as Paul said; rather, I do not want to disqualify myself for lack of training. Case in point: touring Israel. Cross country travel + another 10-hour flight to Israel, already rigorous. And then there is the ‘on your feet all day, sometimes climbing steps’ element of the trip; and in my case, might even be pushing a wheelchair or assisting another who is not so nimble of foot. (Simply put, more is required of me as the leader.) I wanna be ready; I want to be alive and vital, showing people the places where Jesus was born, where he grew up and taught--oh yes, standing on the Mt. of Olives, looking over at the Old City. Friend, if we are to T.H.R.I.V.E., we will intentionally discipline ourselves to spend time with God daily; we will put on our shoes, hit the trail and exercise (to the best of our ability, of course), and partake of food as fuel! There is no question about the importance of this for our physical selves, but then there is the value of moving our bodies, expanding our lungs, waking up our muscles for our mental and emotional selves. There is a definite connection between a healthy body and a healthy brain, whether or not we want to acknowledge it; plus, in order to mitigate weight gain and manage stress in this surreal space of time we are living, exercise is key. God created us body, soul and spirit ~ all need to be exercised if we are to be our best selves! In a world where there is so much that is out of our control, this one thing is not ~ so, go hard, and then, go harder! Christine