"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Little Pain Never Hurt Anyone

As much as I love working out, it can be tiresome and painful. Even moreso, it can be time consuming. I work out pretty much every single day for at least 90 minutes each time. Lately, though, it feels like I have been abusing my body instead of helping it. I mean, it seriously hurts. I have been doing a lot of cardio, kickboxing, turbo kick, and machines, and lately, I've been 'stepping it up a notch' and have added weights. Yikes. Weight training. I actually kind of like it. It really, really stretches me to the point of pain. It's like that kind of pain you get when crack your neck. It hurts, but in a good, 'I know this is good for me,' way. The pain eventually goes away, and then I add even more weight next time.  Then my body feels even more abused.

As I struggle to find not only the time to work out, but the energy to work out, I am reminded of just how necessary it is. It's become more necessary, albeit critical, the older I get. It's actually something that I should have been doing my entire life, but have taken time away from for months at a time. Sure, last year, for medical reasons, I couldn't work out, then I got into a car accident, yada, yada, yada, but since January, 2011, I have been able to work out, and it feels totally awesome. It gets my adrenaline going, my blood moving, and my serotonin levels up. It motivates me to do even more things, even greater things. Now, if I can only find the time.

As I was working out, I was thinking that if I spent same the amount of time and energy on my walk with the Lord as I spend on working out, goodness, our relationship would be fantastic. Not that it isn't good; I'd venture to say it's even great, but it can always be better. I am pondering just what it is that I could do to 'step it up a notch,' when I am working on my relationship with the Lord? I mean, should I spend more time in the Word, in prayer, in conversation, in praising and worshiping? Just what is it?

Well, I think all of the above would be great. And in a perfect world, I would be able to do these things all day, every day. But, unfortunately, I live in a fallen world, one that requires me to work 40 hours a week outside my home, that comes with parental responsibilities and the like, and there just isn't a lot of leftover time for me. Just for me. But....as with any awesome relationship, I need to nurture it, spend time on it, and spend time with that person. I need to know His likes and dislikes and be acutely aware of His needs. OK. I realize the Lord doesn't have needs, but He does have likes and dislikes. I need to know these, recognize these and live accordingly.

The Bible says to pray at all times and to give thanks in all circumstances. Is that even possible. I mean, should I actually be praying in the shower, at the drugstore, in the car, at work? Yes, I should and could. I know that there are many circumstances that I really just don't feel like Praising God about. But then I am reminded that the Bible says that through Christ, it is possible to maintain a spirit of praise and thankfulness during all circumstances. Doesn't it say in Philippians, "I  can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?" So, I guess it is quite possible.

Matthew 19:26 says, "With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible." Goodness, isn't that the truth.  God is omnipotent and omniscient, and I think that means that He can pretty much handle anything and everything that we throw at Him.  Not only can He handle it, but He will handle it.

So, in essence, if I spent the same amount of time praising God and giving thanks to Him, as I do working out, I think all of my days would be outstanding. The little irritants of daily life would not bother me, because I would have given them over to the One who handles them all.  I mean, all of the stresses of the day and the intense speed at which I run, would seem less bothersome and exhausting when I lay them out before the Lord. The working full time, managing three very active teens, along with volunteering, home maintenance and the like, seems so less daunting when I give it all to Him. I love my life now, but I would love it even more (if that's possible) if I would just give it all up to God.  I mean everything.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  The 'Why didn't you do this?,' when you know you either have already done it or didn't even know about it, circumstances; the 'I'm running late for my son's dental appointment because my daughter's doctor appointment took too long,' circumstances. The telephone call at 6:00 am that says, 'I'm sorry. Did I wake you?' circumstances.  The dog dying and the weather freezing circumstances. Yup.  All of them.

Does this mean that I should go through life totally oblivious to time constraints, death, people's negative comments or untrue accusations?  No, it just means that as a Christian, my take on life's trails and sufferings is unique.  I know that God has a plan and that everything ultimately works out for my good.  Doesn't Romans 8:28 say, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose," and doesn't that mean everything's gonna be ok? I'm who Paul was speaking about. I'm the one in that verse that loves Him, who has been called according to His purpose. Does that mean that God will make something good out of every bad situation?  Yes, that's exactly what that means.

As a Christian, I know that absolutely everything that happens in my life, and in the world around me, will ultimately be worked for good.  What Satan would have be destructive, God will turn it around and make it perfect.  Does that mean that there won't be any more suffering in the world? Nope.  Unfortunately, it just means that God will ultimately use those situations for pointing to something else that is good. There will still be starving children in Africa, hurting children in war torn countries, earthquakes and homelessness, sickness and depravity.  But it also means there will be good people who assist, who help, and who make this world a better place to live in. Those who will comfort those on earth that need comforting, who will become His hands and feet in this hurting and broken world.

I think that the more that I study the Word of God, the more I come to realize that God really, really does always have my back., just as He will always have your back, assuming you're a Christian.  When the world lets me down, God has my back.  When I'm falsely accused, God has my back. When work is difficult and my life is busy beyond control, God has my back. And when I am working out and my body is feeling as though it is being abused on a daily basis, God has my back. Whew! Because when push comes to shove, and others let me down by not having my back, Jesus really is the only One that needs to have my back.Yup, He's the only One.

May you feel God's hand upon your back (and your life) today and everyday. May you realize that He can handle absolutely anything and everything that you throw at Him (but you must give it to Him), and He will lovingly take it, mold it and use it for good. Be blessed today.

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