Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The Heart of Lent at the Gym
Yesterday, I went back to the gym. and found some spiritual insight as well.
When I moved back in July, I left the membership in my gym behind with a promise that I would find one quickly after getting settled in our new community. I could argue that it took me nearly eight months to settle, but truthfully, getting back into an exercise routine got lost in a myriad of other activities. After realizing that a few of my lost pounds found their way back home, I knew it was time to get my routine back.
I confess that I was a little rusty. It took the first few minutes on the treadmill to feel comfortable again, but the rhythm returned quickly. I was not able to keep the pace I was at last February, but I was pleased with my stamina. The free weights were a little more challenging partially because of my time away and because for the last few years I've been using the machines. With the help of friends, however, I was able to make some good progress.
This morning, I hurt. It is a good hurt, the kind that tells you your effort worked. It seems my body is whining at the same time it is thanking me. I feel more energy, but going back to the gym today is a little more intimidating.
It is amazing how much our physical body is a reflection of our spiritual life. Sometimes, in the midst of the busyness of life, we can neglect our spirits. The disciplines of scripture, prayer, and worship can be lost in our work and family commitments and once they are, it is hard to get started again. When we do come back to the things that strengthen our spiritual journey, we face the same excitement and resistance I found as I started to exercise yesterday, but it doesn't take long before we feel the benefits.
Our journey to a healthier spiritual life will include a commitment to the task and a willingness to deny ourselves some things in order to gain better things. If you think about it, that sounds a lot like Lent, the season where we strengthen our commitment and practice self-denial in order to deepen our walk with Jesus and empower our spirits for greater things. And, like my experience on the free weights, we may need the help of some friends along the way.
I would love to tell you that, after restricting my diet for a week or two and working out at the gym, I am the picture of health and my added weight is gone. That would be awesome, but it is not realistic. Real heath goals take time and persistence. So do spiritual goals. One day in worship and a few days of prayer will not produce super spiritual strength, but they will be the first steps in the right direction.
As you enter into Lent this year, may your commitment and persistence lead you toward the deep, powerful spiritual life God dreams for you.