Lent: A Time For Restoring Our Spiritual Fitness

You may not realize that I majored in Health and Physical Education in College. In fact, I have both a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in that field of study. As you may expect, I have heard every excuse as to why people will not make the effort to be physically fit. The sad fact is that I have made most of them myself.Here are some of those excuses.  1) It is very hard to make time for it. 2) It is a lot of work and not the most enjoyable activity that can be done. 3) I have an aversion to pain. 4) My muscles get too sore and I feel like weak Jell-O. 5) I do not have the self-discipline to stay with it when the exercise seems more like work than fun. 6) I cannot get myself mentally prepared….. Well, you might have made some of  these excuses yourself.

It does not matter that I have the diplomas to hang on my wall. It does not matter that I can teach anyone else how to become fit. It does not matter that I know the benefits  to my own health if I exercise.  It does not matter that I want to be in good shape. Nothing is of help to my own personal fitness if I myself do not work out. It is with this in mind that I made a serious decision this past January to join with the Kroc Center in Greenville, SC, to get my body into shape.

I have to admit that becoming fit is turning out to be harder than I wish. Old ways are hard to change. It would have been much easier if I had become physically fit when I was young and then kept on working on it. At age 61 the body just does not bounce back the way it used to.  In the years since college, my lack of exercise has made way for muscle and bone atrophy, weight gain and weak lungs. I have a 40 year habit which needs to transformed. Never-the-less I am dedicated to this new mission in my life. After two months, I feel better. I go faster, further and am becoming stronger. I am happy to know that I am doing something which aids in my total well-being.

Many in the Church have done the same thing when it comes to spiritual fitness. We have our certificates of Baptism and Confirmation which we can proudly display. Though, when it comes to our spiritual health, we are very sedentary. We know that there is more, but we feel that the work is too hard. Yet, when we do not exercise or work to stretch our faith, we become weak. Our spiritual lives atrophy. We become sluggish. We are not be able to handle the Word of God well. We are more likely be blown away from the Christian faith because we cannot stand firm against the heresies which buffet the church. Since we are not spiritually fit, we allow our sinful nature be the driving force in our lives.

I believe it is time for us to make the change of habit. It is time for us to make a determined effort to be spiritually fit. It is time for us to consider spiritual health as of first importance in our lives. I would like to offer some exercises to help in the task of becoming spiritually fit.
1) Set aside a daily time to spend with God. This is time for reflection, prayer and listening to God. 30 minutes a days is a good goal.
2) Study the Bible. Determine to seriously know it and understand it.
3) Memorize scripture verses.
4) Read a book which challenges and stretches your faith. Any book by C.S. Lewis, Frances Schaeffer, A.W. Tozer,  John R.W. Stott, or J.IPacker would be a valuable place to start.
5) Find ways to serve others in the Church and outside.

Consider these words from St. Paul.

(1 Cor. 9:25-27) “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 one who is running aimlessly; I do not fight like one who is beating the air. No, I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

(Philip. 3:13-14) “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Will you take time this Lent to get back into good spiritual health?
On your mark!… Get set!…Go and exercise that faith!!!!

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