The following is related to an earlier devotional post on “balance” (wholeness) in our faith and following of Jesus. If you’re not familiar with this series, you may want to review some of the foundational articles and videos on W.A.I.T. training and specific posts on “flexibility”.
There are 24 such subjects on this website. You can use the search function to read the devotionals and related Scriptures, view training videos, and even watch contemporary Christian music videos on the same subjects. Simply place your smartphone or tablet on the reading deck of your favorite cardio equipment in the gym, or prop it up in a safe place as you and a friend exercise at home, or even project it onto a smart TV through wifi or bluetooth for larger groups.
I offer the applications below and others only as examples of how you might physically express spiritual principles. They are not magical formulas or guarantees. Neither are they substitutes for God’s call to gather with other believers for worship in a local church, to study His Word and pray privately, to fellowship with other Christians throughout the week, or to serve the hurting and lost.
In the metaphor of physical fitness, consider this series as a “supplement” for your spiritual health. I do believe, however, that these articles and related video which simultaneously feed our spiritual, physical, and relational health can be very practical. After all, the Lord created each of us as a body with a spirit for relationships. And remember, always consult a physician before beginning any new exercise program.
Suggested applications for meditation on “flexibility”:
No matter what exercise you do, warming up and stretching will prepare your muscles to work a fuller range of motions without unnecessary strain. There’s an important principle in this. God‟s Word warns us against being “stiff-necked‟ or “hard-hearted‟ in relationships. Stretching can be an ideal time to reflect on parts of His Body that may be “cold‟ or “hard‟ due to neglect, abuse or stubbornness. So when you stretch your legs, think of where you will go today, who you‟ll see, and ask God to warm your hearts toward those relationships.
Because my chest is relatively strong, when I stretch my chest I try to think of areas in my life that I consider strong and pray that I would put my hope in Him and not in my abilities. I try to listen to my body but pray according to the commands and promises of His Word. He commands our hearts to be flexible to His Spirit and promises that lead us into blessing – even when His sovereign exercise of our hearts is often beyond our comfort zones and strangely painful (Jeremiah 29:10-14).
If parts of my body are stiff and take more time to stretch, I use that realization to pray for the parts of His Body (other believers) that may need more of my time to “warm them up‟.
We must prepare for exercise by stretching, just as we must prepare our relationships by prayer. But even after we’ve started our workout, we need to be flexible to work a full range of motion – all the way up and all the way down. Or do we prefer to limit our movements so we can handle more weight to appear stronger? Do you see the principle? We can experience good and bad spiritual messages by listening to our bodies, but we must express the truths of His Word – however and wherever we use our bodies. (Colossians 3:16-17)
Most folks who exercise also stretch after their workouts. This may lessen later soreness, increasing our ability and willingness to come back for more exercise later. It can also help to follow workouts by sitting in a whirlpool or sauna to increase blood-flow to alleviate soreness later. These can remind us of our need to follow up relationships with prayer and meditation on Christ’s blood that purifies and strengthens us to alleviate pain in our spirits and relationships later.
Our choice of workout formats can also assist our meditation and physical exercise of flexibility. When our spirits are flexible, we are free to respond to God and change directions quickly. Consider running outdoors to increase your options to hear your body and to flex your workout at any time to stop for push-ups to remind yourself of the need to be “strong‟ in the Lord, to do jumping jacks to picture a stressful relationship that gets your heart racing without appearing to move forward, to jog backward to think on the importance of remembering from where Jesus brought you, etc. Formats of circuit training and swimming can provide similar flexibility to listen to our body and exercise spiritual truths of relationship.
And remember to stay flexible to your partners so you’re not stiff-necked to “my way or the highway‟. Just as there are many ways to warm our muscles (wearing sweats, rubbing our muscles, sitting in a sauna), there are many ways to warm our relationships. Ask others what has worked for them in the Body of Christ, and pray for a flexible heart to hear them.
If you’ve been avoiding exercise with other believers because your fitness level is so different, flex your approach. Ask if they would be willing to hike with a heavier rucksack so you can stay with them, or offer to modify your workout for them
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