(In 2017, I wrote this series for the 40 days prior to Easter to prepare our hearts and minds for the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. I’m reposting the series now for the 40 days after Easter to encourage us to follow through, living in the risen Savior and King.)
God calls us to live for Him in every area of our lives. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and Luke 10:27) So often, however, we struggle for true spiritual fitness because we focus only on some areas and neglect others. All of us are guilty of exercising only our strong points at times. But we need balance, and this applies to more than physical exercise.
For example, Proverbs 30:7-9 warns us against having too much or too little. Luke 10:27 reminds me that my love for God must be shown in my love toward men. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 tells us that God created us as physical and spiritual beings and that both must glorify Him. Ephesians 4:16 describes the parts of our bodies as interdependent, just like the Body of Christ – His people. And 1 Timothy 5:23 tells us to balance care for our physical well-being with our care for other believers‟ consciences. These are just a few examples of God’s call to live as whole people.
It’s easy to lose our balance in small things that become big problems. If I’m honest with myself, I don’t like working on balance. I prefer to do what I do well and avoid any potential difficulty. Most of us probably operate that way (although our strengths and struggles might differ). My story’s not particularly gripping, but maybe you can relate it to your need for balance.
When I started lifting weights, I was about 13 and working on my parents’ fish camp. Some of my responsibilities included pumping gas for girls in ski boats and cutting the grass around the swimming area where I could check out the girls. But I was nervous they might notice me, too – the skinny, pimple-faced teenager with thick glasses and big feet. When the summer heat got too much for me (or when I just wanted to hide from the girls), my only refuge was a quick dive into nasty Lake Greenwood. But that only made my hair even more limp and oily. What a winner! As you can imagine, I wanted to find some way of becoming acceptable. And, being a teenager who was focused on looks, I thought my best hope would be in putting on some muscle.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was Mr. Universe back then, and I quickly memorized most of his weight-lifting routines to beef up a little. But just as quickly, I decided not to work my legs, abs, and cardio. I knew it would be an unbalanced program, but those exercises were just too painful! Besides, I got faster results with my upper body. So I poured myself into what girls seemed to want: bigger arms and a thicker chest. And for almost 30 years, I was happy with my physique – until 2002 when I was diagnosed with a pinched nerve and a herniated disk. Then everything changed in a matter of days.
All of a sudden, I couldn’t carry the M60 machine gun on 4 mile runs with my battalion. Heavy rucksack marches were out of the question. But that was okay, since those things were getting more painful on my knees anyway. Remember, I really didn’t care for suffering. It has been much tougher coming to grips with how my back surgeries have affected my ability to keep my weight down. In the past, if I ever needed to lose a few pounds, I simply ran farther. Now I have to run farther and eat less. But I love to eat. In fact, that is another area where I struggle for balance.
Again, God made us to honor and enjoy Him in every area of life, so our goals and journey for true fitness must be balanced. Yet, all of us still lean toward our comfort zones and lose our balance. For example, I’d rather read about hard relationships than work through them face to face, and I’d rather do hard jobs myself than train others to do them. But shouldn’t I be doing both? Bottom line: all of us like to do what we do well. It’s just easier! Or is it?
Success in the gym might come more quickly than success with my family, but what happens if I neglect time with them? Sleeping late might be more comfortable, but exercising before breakfast is the best time to burn fat. The journey for true fitness entails a constant awareness and pursuit of giving all of my life to Jesus, who balances our lives. As the creator of the universe, He has established the purpose of life: to worship and enjoy Him. As the re-creator of hearts, He establishes the hope of life: to follow Him by faith in Him. He understands all that we go through and gives His wisdom, forgiveness, change, strength and love so that we can live whole or “balanced” lives.
Unless otherwise indicated, Jeff Dillard is the author of all posts in this blog, the goal of which is your greater joy in Christ through leadership and counseling. Jeff and his wife, Lauren, have been married since 1995. By God’s grace, they have four wonderful children and two grandchildren. Jeff was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in America and commissioned as an Army Chaplain in 1998. He has Master’s degrees in Divinity, History, and Counseling. Since 1998, he’s had the privilege of equipping and encouraging others’ faith and service to the Lord Jesus by leading congregations and counseling in multicultural settings across the United States. Seven of those years have been in Germany, Korea, and Iraq. For leisure, Jeff enjoys simple time with his family, exercise, playing guitar and trumpet, and trying foreign foods with friends.
Please note that the contents of tools4trenches do not necessarily reflect specific beliefs or practices of organizations in which Jeff works or worships.