The following is related to an earlier devotional post on “balance” (wholeness) in our faith and following of Jesus. There are 24 such subjects on the tools4trenches website. You can use the search function to read the devotionals, Scriptures and even view contemporary Christian music videos on the same subjects.
On each subject, there are also at least three Scripture passages spelled out for your meditation or memorization and at least three music videos for further reflection. You can use them to assist you in a brief or much longer workout.
Simply lay your smartphone or tablet on the reading deck of your favorite cardio equipment in the gym, prop up the same in a safe place as you and a friend exercise at home, or even plug it into a TV for viewing and use by larger groups.
I offer the exercises below and others only as possible examples of how you can physically express spiritual principles. They are not magical formulas or guarantees. Neither are they substitutes for biblical calls to gather with other believers to hear God’s Word preached, study, to sing His praises, to observe the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, to fellowship or to serve the hurting and lost.
In the metaphor of physical fitness, consider them “supplements” for our health. Still, I believe they can be very practical. In our extremely busy lives, it’s just wise to find ways to build our spirit, body and relationships in the Lord Jesus Christ at the same time.
If the suggestions are helpful, you can find more exercises on other subjects on “W.A.I.T. training”, a free download on the tools4trenches website.
For your safety, always consult a physician before beginning or changing any exercise program.
Suggested exercises for meditation on “balance”:
Consider alternating types of ‘opposite’ exercises while you meditate and pray about the goodness of balancing specific areas in your life. Use exercises of motions in opposite directions such as leg extensions and then leg curls, push-ups and then bent-over rows, dips and then standing rows, bicep curls and then tricep presses, chin-ups and then overhead presses. For each “opposite” exercise, think, discuss and pray about seemingly opposite areas in your lives. For example . . .
While alternating between these exercises, you could focus on your job and family, body and soul, courage and tact, pushing yourself and resting, etc. Meditate on or discuss only one set of these areas at a time, use lighter weight and go slowly so you focus most clearly and deeply. The goal is deeper self-awareness, more intentional living and closer, genuine relationships in Christ. The goal is not an impressive workout or going through the motions for some magical change. Talk with your workout partner about what you’re thinking, feeling and expressing. Listen to them. Pray briefly together every few minutes, as you agree on a schedule of breaks.
You can use the simple “left, right, left, right” motion of dumbbells or your feet on cardio machines or track to illustrate the need for balance in different areas of your life. Whatever you choose, be safe. Never use headphones when jogging on a road or exercising near other types of traffic.
You can express balance in cardio, too: 15 minutes on the treadmill, 15 minutes on the stationary bike, 15 minutes on the elliptical, and make each one a time of prayer for places to which you ‘travel’ each day and the people you see there.
Try alternating an abdominal exercise that gives you a slow burn with upper-body sets that require sudden bursts of strength. This may help you express areas of your life in which you need to endure a slow burn and other areas that seem to require sudden spiritual strength. Be creative.
If it has been engrained in you to count repetitions, you might consider investing in a digital watch with a countdown timer. The best ones can be set to beep every minute or two (or 10 or 20, etc.). Look for specifications that tell you the watch can be set for specific increments of time and repeat countdowns automatically. This may free you to focus on your experience and expression of the spiritual principles in the exercise.
If you’re still focused on counting repetitions, consider applying a specific meaning to the counts. For example, sometimes I count to help me meditate and pray for specific people from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep “5 . . . 6 . . . 7 . . . 8 . . . 9 . . . 10 . . . 11 . . . 12 . . . 1 . . .”.
If the weight you use or speed you run is too much to count into high numbers, you can count in sets of 8, meditating and praying for 8 hours of work, 8 hours of family/leisure time, and even 8 hours of rest. You can exercise and pray for families of 6 in sets of 6, etc.
If you use dumbbells or some other form of exercise that may involve muscle failure, you can use your fatigue to remind you to pray for their perseverance. Don’t worry about praying specific words – just visualize the person and the place and pray for them in your spirit. (Romans 8:26) God knows if you are giving thanks, praying for their salvation or praising Him for them.
I can’t think of a single exercise that does not require some type of balance. When you bench press, you have to choose a weight that balances the strength of your arms versus the weakness of your chest muscles or vice versa. When you run, you have to choose a speed that balances the stamina of your legs versus the condition of your heart and lungs. When you do abdominal work, you have to balance the fitness of you muscles versus any limitations from surgeries.
The point is this: you don’t have to go out of your way to choose formats that require balance. Simply recognize the need for balance in all your exercises, be honest with yourself and talk with your partners about what you’re naturally experiencing, then be intentional to express the related truths in Jesus’ gospel.
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