Several years ago I developed a crazy notion to start running. I was in my mid to late-twenties, and I discovered that my once athletic body was now more suited for Kevin James look-a-like contests. I could think of many reasons why I wasn’t taking care of myself – grad school, multiple jobs, Seinfeld reruns, etc. But, I knew that I had to do something.
Running had been viewed as a necessary evil to accomplish my goals. As a teenager, I ran for conditioning for other sports. Running was effective, but not truly enjoyed as a sport unto itself. I decided to resume this tortuous practice and redeem my athleticism.
I soon discovered the horror of my physical neglect. After strapping on my running shoes and running shorts and shirt, I hit the open road ready to reclaim my honor. Within a few minutes my heart was pounding, and I was breathing harder than I could ever remember. What had happened to that strong, all-district middle linebacker who could play an entire game without exhaustion? Where was that 19 year old bodybuilder with 2% body fat? He was gone, and he had the chest pains to prove it.
Over the next few days and weeks, I continued to run but with great difficultly. It would be months before I could run a mile without stopping and being completely exhausted. Every time I ran something hurt. As long as the same body part didn’t hurt three days in a row, I kept running.
It would be a year before my conditioning had improved enough to run three miles. My body was beginning to change. I was beginning to see glimpses of a trained athlete. The pain was finally producing progress.
As a follower of Christ, I have also experienced similar pains in my Christian growth. I remember earlier days in my spiritual journey when I would read my Bible and pray for hours on end. What had happened to that once vibrant disciple?
Spiritual growth also requires careful attention for me. My spiritual muscles need to be challenged.
Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. 1 Timothy 4:8