Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Getting in shape for the Lord

"It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galations 5:1

Paul is referring to the bondage of legalism that enters our lives when we think that if we do certain things, we will become more sanctified and more like Christ. Earlier he reminds them that is only by the Spirit and through faith that they are perfected.

But legalism isn't the only bond that can burden us. We can be burdened by undisciplined eating habits and undisciplined exercise habits, both leading to poor health.

"Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

We are all called to a very great purpose. Many of you have been called to homeschool your families. That is an incredible purpose which requires a great amount of perseverance to endure to the end. And to fulfill this purpose with excellence we need to throw off all that hinders us. Certainly being exhausted, irritable and unmotivated hinders. Do you know that these things are a direct result of being out of good physical shape? Indeed, those who exercise regularly, with both resistance training and aerobic exercise increase their energy level vastly! For, the benefits to our bodies are incredible. We can get through the entire day without fatigue. We find ourselves less likely to be irritable with our children, and having enough energy to entertain a little evening romance. Truly, proper eating and exercise can transform your days to such an extent that you feel more able to run with endurance the race set before you.

Many of us are unmotivated to workout, and often the only reason we can think of to do it is because we will "look" better. That is really too shallow a goal to keep us going. So, whenever we get totally disgusted with how we look, we begin to research a little, and maybe even join a health club, and maybe even start working out for a little bit. However, we all know what happens after a few weeks. We, uh, er...forget to go ever again.

But, I have been given a burden for this area, because I believe the science behind physical fitness is very great, and I have experienced the benefits that far outweigh the shallowness of "looking good." The benefits of physical training, or exercise, transcend outer appearances and reach into the very heart of our lives, our health, feelings of well-being and energy level.

You see, before I began to lift weights I would complain about being tired all the time. I was simply exhausted. Just doing two subjects with my rowdy boys tired me out to such an extent that I often surrendered with, "Okay, that's enough school for the day." And the rest of the day was spent relaxing with a cup of tea, a good book and the kids safely out in the back yard. And I was still tired, even after I had relaxed for hours. I was tired at night as well. This is not a great recipe for romance.

I loaded up on vitamins that promised extra energy. And as a cancer survivor, I knew the importance of eating natural healthy food. I was eating great. So, I was worried about the fact that I was so tired. I wondered if I should go to the doctor. The funny thing was I heard the same complaint from many of my friends. We were all so tired, and we were all sure it was some medical condition. And, well, as it turns out, it was. It was a medical condition called being deconditioned. We were so out of condition that we didn't have the stamina to get through the day!

I have to admit that I started out at the gym with shallow, insincere motives; my body was flabby and I was sick of accidentally seeing myself in the mirror. I joined the health club near my daughters dance studio. So I dropped her off and had nothing to do but workout while I waited for her to finish. Lo and behold! My life was transformed. Suddenly, I didn't feel as anxious as I usually did, I didn't tire in the afternoons or evenings, I didn't feel "too tired" to take the kids on fun outings, I felt energized to do all the school I wanted to do each day, including a dynamic devotion time. And I knew it was because I was working out. I knew it. There was not one other thing that I was doing differently. So, I began to research what the exact physiological mechanisms that were at work during the process of working out that produced such great results. And I soon joined a class to get certified as a personal trainer.

I also began to think about how God designed our bodies. I realized that God did design us with daily physical training in mind. And optimal health is likely to include men and women experiencing much physical labor. For thousands of years, up until the most recent generation, women have worked tremendously hard just to get the daily chores finished. It was harder work than unloading the dishwasher or putting the wet clothes into the dryer.

When was the last time you walked a mile to the well to get water carrying large, heavy urns upon your shoulder the mile or more back, twice a day? When was the last time you ground corn or wheat by hand into a fine powder for bread, using bicep and tricep muscles with all their force to help you? When was the last time you did physical labor from dusk til dawn just to provide for your family's basic needs?

When most of us read 1 Timothy 4:6-10, “for bodily exercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come.” We misinterpret it to say “for bodily exercise is not profitable, but only godliness is." This is not what the verse says. I think The Message interprets the verse better: “Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.”

As we know, spiritual training should never be neglected. But we oft forsake the physical training mentioned in the first part of this verse. You see, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us that exercise is profitable for us, making us fit in this life. And, can you believe that exercise was deemed profitable at a time when basic living offered an incredible workout on its own? If it was useful then, how much more so would it be useful for us today?

The technological revolution has ushered in convenience along with the comforts of living a sedentary life. And our inactivity is affecting our lives negatively; we now have processed food that has little nutritional value and often contains harmful substances, an over abundance of health problems, depression and irritability, lack of energy and motivation, and overweight or deconditioned bodies. This results in an inability to live the life we are called to live, serving God and fulfilling our purpose as mothers and wives with joy.

Our purpose in life as Christian homeschoolers is to glorify God in the education of our children, and any other ministries the Lord allows us. But often we are not glorifying God to the best of our abilities because of the problems associated with being out of shape, having poor eating habits and lacking the vitamins and minerals in our bodies need. Under these conditions, living out His purposes begins to take a back seat to just getting through the day. We are exhausted and too deconditioned to energetically greet our husbands at the door.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" 1 Corinthians 6:19

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus" Colossians 3:17
It is my hope and prayer that the information you find on these pages will give you hope and motivation to move toward better health. Your purpose in life is very great indeed, and the body of Christ needs you, your gifts and your contribution. Don't let the enemy of a deconditioned, tired body keep you from running the race that God has marked out for you with perseverance.

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