Recently I became busy making excuses not to exercise. I’m too tired. My muscles ache. It’s too hot out. I just don’t feel up to it. There are too many other things to do today. I feel depressed. After going many days with no exercise, even though I tend to exercise daily whether it’s jogging, bicycling, or walking I felt physically sluggish and emotionally weary.
The first day back to my exercise routine, I realized how much I had missed it. One part was just being outside enjoying nature. I wondered why I had avoided what made me feel good in my body and in my soul. That day I ended up riding my bicycle for an hour and jogging for a half hour. Afterward I felt energetic and uplifted emotionally.
In my spiritual life, I make excuses for not exercising my faith. Then I start to feel sluggish and weary spiritually. Some of the excuses I make are: That’s out of my comfort zone, I’m afraid. Was that really from the Lord? If I do that, she might be offended. I could get rejected. It could hurt our relationship.
Here is what one person answered online when the question was posed, “What does it mean to exercise our faith?”
“Exercising my faith in God means believing in Him, loving Him, trusting Him, and moving forward in life as I try to do what He wants me to do.”
The Word tells me this about exercising: “For bodily exercise profits little: But godliness is profitable unto all things having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8.
I looked further online to see what others said about exercising our faith. Diane Markins wrote this in a devotion on CBN.com:
“Our faith muscles will atrophy if we don’t use them. We need to stretch them and build them up for strength. As we stretch them beyond the limit of our comfort…we allow ourselves greater flexibility, grace and longer strides. After we stretch and begin to move more freely, we also begin to gain strength of faith.” from “Rebuilding Flabby Faith Muscles”
What spoke to me was “beyond the limit of our comfort.” Often God calls me to move out of my comfort zone. He whispers, “Say this to that person or group of people,” “Sing this song to that hurting soul.” “Write this article and tell the truth about your failures and flaws.” “Hug that person you want to withdraw from.”
It seems when God tells me to move, it’s difficult like on the days I don’t want to move off of the couch to go outside and exercise my body. I hesitate, procrastinate, and try to negotiate. “Do I really have to do that, Lord?”
When I do exercise my faith by doing what God is calling me to do at any given moment, the vigor in my spiritual life returns. I sense a closer connection to the Lord and to the people he’s calling me to reach out to.
Lately God is calling me to deal vigorously with the problem of bullying in public schools and the teachers and leaders failure to deal with the problem effectively. He is laying on my heart to to talk to and write letters to leaders in our area and ask them about their anti-bullying policies and encourage them to enhance them. He is urging me to communicate with students and teachers, and to bring Him into the solution as He leads. I’ve already written about the subject for local and national publications, but He wants me to write more. He’s calling me to encourage students to make anti-bullying posters to hang in the halls of schools and to make some of my own.
To do any of the above would be exercising my faith because this is definitely out of my comfort zone. I find excuses coming to mind: I’m too busy, they won’t listen to me, who am I that I could make any difference? I’m not good at this kind of thing…and the list goes on and on.
But with God’s help, I have to embrace faith in Him and believe that He can use me to make a difference in this and other challenges He’s presented to me in recent days.
Today I choose to exercise my faith—to determine to do all He has called me to do, and to become all He’s called me to be. I want to stop holding back and stop holding on to feeling safe and secure just talking about my faith. I choose to live out my faith as I am directed in Colossians 2:6-7.
I like the way the Amplified Bible puts it: “As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and over-flowing in it with thanksgiving.”
It’s only by God’s strength that I can do the above. The good news is that He delights to give it to me.
Lord, free me to receive Your strength to more fully exercise my faith in the days, months, and years that lay ahead of me. Help me to let go of excuses and live boldly for You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“Be One” by Natalie Grant