Press Forward

There are many of us that have intentions on becoming physically fit.  There are many of us that want to exercise our spiritual muscles and train our spirit to be in obedience and in reliance to God’s word.  There are many of us that want both.   I am personally on the journey to both.  About a year ago, God began dealing with me about my pendulum swing.   If I was strong spiritually, I was slacking on my physical man.  If I was working out hard physically, I was slacking on my spiritual man.  There just was not a medium for me.  I was right or left just not fair and balanced between the physical and spiritual.

What I chose to do was find a way to do both.  It took sacrifice of time and sleep mainly to accomplish this.  My goal by bringing balance was to NOT be extreme, because I knew that I would not be able to maintain it.  My desire was to be healthy both physically and spiritually.  Proudly, I say, almost one year later, I am still going steady.

Last week, though, I took a week off from working out due to a family vacation and lack of facility where we went.  I also had convinced myself that I “deserved” a break.  Hence I slept in and rested verses running and sweating.  Boy, did I pay for it this week.  As I struggled through my cardio and strength exercises I thought, “It takes a lot of time, energy and effort to get in shape.  It takes little time, energy or effort to get out of shape.  The later happens way faster than the first.”

I have a prize that I am pressing towards.  My prize is for my physical man and spiritual man to be in balance so that I can maintain this race called life.  I do not want to fall short of the prize.

“By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”  Philippians 3:14, The Message

After my smelly sweat bath from  breaking the body back into a routine of exercise, I had this thought while drinking my H20:

When my flesh is weak, the spirit is willing.  I can still do it!

When my spirit is weak, but the body is willing.  I can still do it!

When my spirit is weak and my body is too – I am in danger.

Even if my body does not feel like exercise, but my inner self says, “Come on Michelle, even though you don’t feel like it, let’s do it.  The prize is ahead, let us keep moving towards it. Do not stop.”  You know what, I can do it.  I have motivation even when I do not feel like it.    And when I choose to do, I usually feel better after the workout and think, “I am so glad that I pushed through.”

When my spirit is weak or wounded or weary, I can develop an “I don’t care attitude.” However, I can quickly look in the mirror and see the benefits from working out the physical man and say, “Come on, look where you have come. You have this.  You do not want to wear the jeans and have the muffin top affect again, right?  You have worked hard – get up and go!  The bed looks cozy, but it will not keep you in those jeans. Up, up, up!”  And off I go.  Again, when I choose to get up and do, I feel better after the workout despite the will to want to do it.

Here is where we get into danger.  Let the sirens sound and the whistles blow…. it is about to get risky.  When the physical man is saying, “Nope,” and the spirit is saying, “Nope,” Houston we have a problem.  It is time to call in reinforcements.  If we are not grooming our physical and spiritual man, we have become stopped in our tracks.  There is no progression forward.  What that means is you are no longer moving towards the prize.  You have stopped and are at a stand still – you could call it a “lock out.”

It would be like a garden.  We put the work and effort into preparing the ground, planting the seeds, pruning the plants and pulling the weeds then just walk away from it half way through the season.  What happens?  The weeds overtake the garden.  Sure you may find a veggie here or there that is okay to eat and looks good, but through all the weeds and mess it will be much more difficult to find.  We miss out on parts of the prize because we became apathetic to the need at hand.

When we quit nurturing our spiritual man, we become tired and weak.  Weeds begin to grow and overcrowd our fruit.  Our patience thins.  Our kindness hides in the weed’s shadow.  Our willingness to give, becomes a “we are owed/we deserve” attitude.  The space of our heart that carries love, joy and peace, becomes overcome by sprouts of unforgiveness, bitterness, and depression.  It takes work.  Daily work to tend the soils of our heart to continually pluck the ugly weeds so that the fruit can easily be spotted.   Without the daily weeding, the prize can quickly become forgotten.

So friends, I say this:  It is hard work.  There is no pill or diet that will keep you thin or in your best spiritual shape.  The only way to keep pressing on is to do the work, put in the time and effort and energy so that you can reap the benefits.  When we do it in “Extreme” measures, we will only be able to maintain for so long, but when we find a steady pace that is balanced, we can press on towards the prize.  The goal is attainable.  

Jesus said it this way, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Matthew 26:40-43


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