The following is related to an earlier devotional post on “vision”: identify the goal, and start walking. 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 “vision“.
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 “vision”:
By ‘vision’ I mean a positive mental image of what we want our lives to look like in the future. Most of us probably have a vision of what we’d like to accomplish in our vocation, finances and physical fitness. But we should also set goals for our relationships in the Body of Christ. And how we build our relationships may be a little different from person to person.
Think about a professional athlete’s exercise programs. The routines of a major league pitcher will be very different from those of a hockey goalie or a ballerina. What do you want in relationships with specific Christians? Pray for believers who can help you. They may have similar interests or different strengths. Discuss your goals and work with them to tailor your routine to exercise your spirit in the Body of Christ.
Understand your group’s vision, too. If they want to memorize Scripture to respond in godly ways in sudden temptations or trials, you could do circuit training in which each person in the group takes turns “suddenly” choosing a different exercise. This could simulate the stress of unexpected challenges.
Even church and chapel sports leagues can provide ample opportunities to work through sudden conflicts: bumping into each other, disagreements over referees’ calls, personality differences in playing styles, etc. You could read relevant Scripture passages in team huddles, pray before and after games, print team T-shirts with Scripture, organize a ‘cheering section’ to hold up posters of brief passages about teamwork in His Body, form, persevering, sacrifice, etc.
During your group’s warm-up or cool-down, the members could share some of their personal trials and temptations and how they want to turn to God’s Word for these. Or your group could post small cards with selected verses printed in front on them on the stair-climber, treadmill, elliptical, or tape them to the mirror in front of a weight machine. If you do this, please clean the tape residue on the mirror afterward. It’s amazing how the smallest actions – good or bad – can have a lasting witness. Whatever you choose, format the program to word toward your vision in Christ.
If your group’s vision is to build more intimate friendships, you could meet before workouts to share your concerns and testimonies, choose exercises to exemplify the things you shared in the group, and meet afterward to share how specific aspects of your workouts illustrated some of the things you’re going through or ways you want to grow and close with a group prayer by all.
If your group’s vision is to understand God’s Word better from cover-to-cover, you could use the general themes and specific Scripture references in W.A.I.T. training in a Sunday school, home Bible study, family devotional time, etc. Even in a home or classroom setting, you could incorporate mindfulness exercises such as a body scan on one’s self.
A body scan is an individual’s quiet internal Watch for any experiences in their own body (wonderful, wounded, or warped). Never require or coerce a person to do a body scan. They will only become more defensive and closed. For those who are agreeable, however, it can help for the person to close their eyes so as not to be distracted by anyone or anything in the room. The goal is to notice what’s going on inside. However, survivors of severe trauma should not attempt this without a professional counselor. When in doubt, don’t!
When the person begins their scan, I recommend guiding them to focus from head-to-toe to ensure a complete scan. But give them the freedom to choose – rigid rules will hinder relaxation and focus. Once they begin the inner scan, they should free-associate and voice any experiences, memories, and even vague sensations and mental images. Such scans can help us sense how our beliefs are manifesting in our bodies. A group member whom they trust can help them accept whatever the person notices. Others can help them invest in Jesus by reading an encouraging verse on the person’s concern.
If your group’s vision is to reach out to others, you could meet for pick-up ballgames at the local gym or community center. And after building a level of relationship with the new friends, you could offer them a copy of the book for future discussion or workouts together. Be honest and kind when talking with them about their vision for life, but don’t demand them to respond with automatic faith or even thanks. Just love them.
Watch for positive things in their lives and watch for your internal battles of pride and fear. Accept that they are wonderful, warped, and wounded – just like you, but that a non-believer cannot be a spiritual confidant for you. Invest in His Kingdom by Teaming with His people to pray for them, love them, and talk to them about Jesus. Resist any desire to make them your ‘project’. Our vision can be great, but the way must be paved with faith & love, not notches in our belt.
Maybe you’re not sure if you’re ready for a group. Or maybe you just want to enhance your group time by your individual time with God – body and soul. Your individual vision could be a greater mindfulness of your cycle of emotion, belief, and relating to others so you are less blindly reactive when you’re with others. I recommend finding a quite time and place so you can focus most fully: at home in a room by yourself, before anyone else is awake, on a track that you can have all to yourself (or mostly to yourself), or on a treadmill at an off-time when very few people are in the gym. You get the idea.
Schedule a time that you can devote about an hour without worrying about getting ready for the next things scheduled in your day. Don’t worry about your pace, the time, or anything that you can ‘achieve’. Watch for sensations and images within you. The first goal is not to try to become something but to notice what already is within you – good and bad. And Accept what you find within you as part of you. If you prefer to do things alone (like workout by yourself), you are trying to Invest in Christ without working with His Team. You can’t. What is one member without the rest of the Body? Take a look at God’s Word and notice how many of His promises are to His people – plural! In fact, I can’t think of many promises to individuals in the Bible. And even most of those are prophecies that relate to the person’s place in His Body.
Remember, we Watch and Accept to experience the good and bad realities in us for greater awareness, especially by the spiritual imagery of our bodies. But we Invest and Team to express God’s realities for the Body of Christ – to remind ourselves of relational fitness with Him and each other in His good commands and promises. To help each other express God’s vision, we may need to be bold. “What do you want your exercise to express to Jesus?” or “You said your vision is to be closer to other believers. How could you express that in our workout?” or “What your spirit is expressing right now?”
Help each other picture their vision so they can pursue it.
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