31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
I read once that the best method for a person to start getting back into shape was to get a dog. The reasoning is that a dog has energy and needs to be walked every day – often twice a day. And if the dog is being walked, the dog-handler is getting necessary exercise. For years I walked my dogs and not gotten in any better shape. But it may have prevented me from getting into worse shape.
Ten months ago the tipping point to a major life change occurred on a vacation cruise to the Caribbean. Or should I say, the pictures taken during the cruise prompted a major life change. I was disgusted by the old, fat, and sweaty-looking man in those pictures. As a follower of Jesus, I had convinced myself that the outward appearance was a wrapper, and not the “true” image of the inner spiritual man. But that is as much nonsense as the droning on that many do about wealth in Christian households being un-Christian. A Christian’s wealth is a tool to enable the Gospel to be shared with more people and to strengthen the faithful. The man who truly follows Jesus does not allow laziness, greed, lust, or other distractions hinder a deeping relationship with the Spirit. Since the body is God’s temple, home of the Spirit for each of us, where the spirit resides should not look like some hoarder lives there. Dust a little, for Heaven’s sake!
At age fifty-nine, this old Senior Chief and technical worker has been employed for forty-five years. In my youth, I stayed fit being active. I earned money for bicycles and basketballs by odd jobs, or traded labor for time. Either I swept out a library, cleaned out horse stalls, weeded and trimmed gardens, or in the Navy, was physically fit as a condition of my employment. I rode my bicycle for several miles in the hills to and from work for about four years until I fell and broke my wrist in several places. I put the bicycle in the garage. In the last decade, the requirement to maintain a physical standard went away with military retirement. And I continued to think that walking the dogs weekly instead of twice a day was sufficient to stay healthy. Over time my spiritual life was becoming slovenly as my outward appearance.
And then those pictures in November. A Christmas-time illness – several weeks with the lingering flu. Hospitalization. A talk with my spouse that prompted the “keto” diet plan. And then hospitalization and abdominal surgery. Four months later, I have been working out daily, changed to organic and natural foods, and monitoring what and when I eat. I joined a gym sponsored and subsidized by employer.
I had joined another gym ten years ago, subsidized by this same employer, but after a year, my distorted priorities of work that I had to do in place of taking time for the gym (which no one else I noted ever had that compulsion) were excuses to think I was being “a Christian servant”. More distorted thinking. I paid for an additional year and never went to the gym though had I gone several times in a month it would have been subsidized. I let my membership lapse.
These days I have a much healthier outlook about work. I look healthier. My performance is above par, and people notice my changed life and fitness.
That guy I see in the mirror looks like that new Chief I was fourteen years ago. Perhaps a little grayer, but definitely the old fat man is gone. The attitude of that then- 45 year old, determined to be in better shape than his 30 year old peers is coming back. And the dogs are liking the new me. Almost.
Dexter does not get nearly enough sniffing time on a walk. No more stop, stop, stop and go. It’s now go, go, go! Comet is thriving. He’s getting back into shape also. He calls upon his inner greyhound on our hikes on Saturdays. Neither of us are pretty when we exercise. But I invite people more often than in recent years, to live in a balance that they are missing: if you have health, you need Spirit. If you have Spirit, you definitely need health.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, Hebrews 12: 1 (NIV)