Work Out, Don't Wimp Out
It's hard for me to get excited about exercising; I'd much rather do some weights or long walks at my house than go to the gym where people could—horror of horrors—inspect and judge my performance. In fact, I avoid gyms because of that. I don't want to open myself to dissatisfaction. "Wow, she's got a really great figure...wish mine was like that." So I try to exercise at home (which brings about the possibility of lacking self-motivation, but that's another story).
Recently, I was starting an exercise DVD and read the cautionary notes before the tape started. You know how those go—you are advised by diet commercials to consult a physician and on vitamin commercials to ask a professional before adding the pill to your round of health supplements. This note was a little different: "Never exercise beyond the level at which you are comfortable." It struck me as odd. The point of exercising is to extend the comfort level of physical activity, right? Each time you work out, you're striving to either keep yourself at the same level or push yourself a little bit further. If you never go beyond your comfort level, you're never going to strengthen your physical body.
I bet you can tell where this is going! The same principle applies to our spiritual lives. If we never extend them past our comfort level, past prayer rituals, one-chapter-daily Bible reading, or semi-consistent church attendance, our souls won't grow in maturity and they certainly won't grow more in love with God. Often, myalgia kicks in.
Myalgia is the dull pain in your muscles after a too-strenuous workout. When you exercise, muscles tear, and when you attempt the same movements with the same muscles, those partially repaired muscles put up a fight. Often fear of the muscle soreness will stop people from exercising, and they become inactive because it "hurts too much." But they don't realize that even if the muscles tear, they will rebuild the more you exercise. Eventually, they become less sensitive to pain memory and the tears become smaller as your muscles become stronger.
Our spiritual myalgia can keep us from growing in our walk with the Lord. It's easy to boast about how God has seemed so close to you in recent weeks, but if your spiritual walk is nothing more than recycling clichés used by holier-seeming people, those soulful muscles will never grow. You'll become like the people who don't exercise or who stay at their comfort level for fear of temporal myalgia.
Or maybe you avoid the gym so you won't be judged. You hide your faith at home, never sharing it in a public venue. Are you going to let cautionary notes stop you from being bold in your faith, inviting friends to church, or starting a Bible study
Isaiah 40:29 makes this promise, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."
God calls us to a substantial workout of love for Him. We have to study (not just read) the Bible, listen to wise teachers and church leaders, humble ourselves to discipleship, and push beyond circumstances, perhaps really nasty ones, into the arms of God. He's not a wimpy trainer!
So download an audio Bible, plug in those earphones, and hop on the treadmill. Don't worry about staring eyes or the ache of myalgia. Today, push yourself beyond your comfort zone, and enable your spiritual muscles to grow.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Ps. 139:14).
This post was written by Lindsey Narmour.
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