When I started COREministries three years ago, I did it with a particular goal in mind. Because God had healed my body physically and spiritually and rescued me from my eating disorder, I wanted to give my body to God. Romans 12:1-2 says,” I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
I wanted to do just that…God had shown me ways to take care of myself physically and spiritually and I wanted to share it with others. I wanted the focus to be on worshipping God with our bodies instead of worshipping our bodies. Realizing that our physical fitness goals, challenges and training can be a way to learn how to focus, perservere, and strengthen our faith.
This summer, I decided to switch to a different running method that was supposed to be gentle on the body. I did this not because I had been injured, but in an effort to take care of my body, to prolong my ability to use it to do the many things in my life that God had called me to do: wife, mother, ministry leader, fitness instructor. I set a goal for myself that had nothing to do with weight or competition with others (*this is part of maintaining a proper focus for physical training for me) and trained according to the plan. As race day neared, I felt strong, fast, ready. I had done it, I had trained, safely, effectively. I even, well, was a little proud of the physical progress I had seen in my running. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is great! This method is better for my body AND its making me faster! What a blessing!”
BUT…Despite choosing a SAFE training plan, identifying a REALISTIC goal, COMPLETING my training with no issues, and MAINTAINING a healthy attitude and focus….I…HURT…MYSELF!
Although I was prepared– I am NOT perfect!!!–there were some days where my focus was more on the physical goal than the spiritual goal, days when hamstrings were sore, where my prayers were more like “Lord, please get me through this run!” and less like, “Lord, thank you that I am able to run!”, but, in general, I kept a good perspective and was thankful for the ability to train carefully AND effectively. Also, the pain I have?– It could have been a lot worse. I was able to complete my race, and achieve my goal- my physical goal.
However, in the excitement of the physical race, physical training..I had forgotten that God might be wanting me to focus on a different kind of training. After all, as I have said before- it is not about the earthly race, it is about the eternal goal. God, in His perfect timing, was preparing me to enter a new time of training–Advent! This is the time of year when we TRAIN our hearts and minds for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We have a journey we must travel during this time of year…all the way to Bethlehem. Just like the goal of training our physical bodies for the use towards God’s purpose can mean the use of plans created by “experts”, God uses a “training plan” created by the Church- ADVENT- to train us for the realization of HIS plan for all of us…Jesus, here among us!
In my daily life, I run around getting “a lot” of stuff done in as little time as possible. I try to cram in exercise and Bible Study all before 6:30 am so that the rest of my day I can use to volunteer, teach Pilates, take care of the house hold, whatever else I feel I need to do to get the most out of my days, my life! By having this time where I MUST slow down, sit actually, I am learning to look at the slowness of things as a blessing. I have been given a new training plan- written by my Creator- the one who knows what my body, and my spirit needs.
Now I could choose to think of this time as a setback, worry about all that I am NOT able to do and how this might affect me physically, but that would not be following God’s training plan. You see, even in my physical goals, I should always have a spiritual focus…it is not about the running the race, getting the new PR, getting the medal…well at least not the physical ones. Taking care of my body has to do with being able to run the race that God has set before me…to testify to His grace through Jesus Christ (for whom I am preparing with my ADVENT Training plan!) My PR has nothing to do with a numbers on a clock, but the number of times I am able to share with others what God has done for me.
And getting the medal? “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us..” (Phil 3:13-15)
During this Training Season of ADVENT, I will forget the things of the past: my old self, my pains, my hurts. I will look foward with anticipation to the day of Christ’s coming… now that’s the ultimate prize !!