Thursday, May 30, 2013


Last night I signed up for a Spartan Beast Race in December. My younger brother and I had talked about it, and a grueling obstacle course that would nearly kill me sounded like a fun thing to do. Even better, he got a free ticket so we were able to split the price! 

Then I started working out two nights ago.

Right now my entire body is sore and feels a little bit like jello. Now if you looked at me, you wouldn't think I was in bad shape. I'm thin without looking like a skeleton and I still eat pretty much whatever I want. Even my blood pressure is much lower than most people.

But inside I know that I am in nowhere near good enough shape to do that Spartan Race. This has been proven over the last two nights as I struggle through a basic body-weight exercise program to get myself ready for it. If the race were tomorrow, I would probably have to give up within the first two miles.

If you didn't click on the link, the Spartan Beast is a 12+ mile race with 25+ obstacles including rope climbing, wall climbing, and carrying buckets of rocks (or something similarly ridiculous). In short, I am not prepared, at all, for the kind of things I will be asked to do in this race.

But that's not until December.

I see the goal, I know what is coming, and I have a plan to be ready for it. You see while I look relatively fit on the outside, inside I am not. Furthermore, if I do not prepare myself for what is coming, I will be destroyed by the event when I get there. That does not make the event evil or bad, it would just make me someone who did not prepare for it.

Paul says in I Timothy 4:8, "For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."

So many times we focus on making ourselves appear and feel good on the outside of our spiritual life. We say the right words, don't do the worst things, and try to sing the right notes. We may even speak up in class occasionally. Those are all good things, but they are also all surface level things.

The question is are you spiritually fit on the inside?

Do you work out spiritually? It is a little bit trickier than working out physically. Physically we can feel weight and pressure and exertion. We can look at the muscles on our arms and stomachs, and feel stronger when we pick up heavy things. But spiritual strength is different. Not only is it different, but it is far, far more important than physical strength as well.

So how do you spiritually work out? We have prayer, Bible reading, thinking about spiritual topics, helping others, visiting the sick and in jail, being kind, practicing patience and goodness and self-control, and many other things. Doing these things strengthens us spiritually. It works out our souls and minds and allows us to take on bigger challenges over time. But where do you start?

When someone first starts working out they don't go straight to trying to lift 200 lb weights. They also don't start their running regimen at 10 miles. They start small. They start with what they are capable of, and push themselves to go a little bit further each time. It is not an instant process, but in the end that person can run 10 miles or lift those 200 lbs. 

If they continue to work at it. 

Working out spiritually is much the same. Start with 2-3 small prayers and reading a few Bible verses each day. As you get more comfortable and more in the groove of it make those prayers and readings longer. Work on helping others and having a mindset that is focused on goodness and kindness and self-control. Begin sending cards or visiting someone who is sick or needs help.

Start small, then push yourself to go just a little further each time. With God's help, you'll be doing 10-mile spiritual runs while carrying 200 lb spiritual weights sooner than you think. But you have to stick with it, and you have to be willing to push yourself just a little further each time.

Our spiritual lives are far more important than our physical lives. Let's make sure we are working at least as hard on that as we are with everything else. Because it's the inside that counts.

Paul's words again:
"For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."

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