Many these days are involved in physical exercise programs. Some are doing boot camps early in the morning. Others have a regular time to walk or run. Some spend time at the gym using treadmills and weight machines. The goal for most is to reach a point of greater physical health – to be stronger and have more endurance even in the daily routines of life.
Let us not neglect to do the same for our spiritual health – may we even make this a first priority.
Someone once said that we are not physical beings with a spirit, we are spiritual beings with a physical body. So, it seems proper that we would attend first to our spiritual health. Tending first to our spirit will actually lend itself to the work of the physical, so it makes sense to attend first to that aspect of our being. But alas, this is often not the case (and, curiously, the opposite is not true – tending to the physical first does not lead us into a greater sense of the spiritual).
What does your spiritual workout routine look like? Is it like my physical workout routine these days – sporadic and anemic? I can’t begin to say how often a weekend of indulgence in fried food and decadent desserts have driven me to an intense bout of physical activity. But those are often short-lived and thereby ineffective in fighting the battle of the bulge. In the same way, we may have times when life takes a difficult turn and we decide to throw ourselves into a time of intense prayer and reading of the Scriptures. But, that too is short-lived, and it is equally ineffective for fighting the spiritual weakness we feel in the face of difficulties – big or small.
If our spiritual training is like that – sporadic and ineffective, how might we change that? If we agree that tending to our spiritual workouts is helpful for us both spiritually and physically, what might we do to improve our lot in life?
For me, it is the choice to develop a routine focused on a “rule of life” – guiding principles I can use each day that allows the Holy Spirit to train me and strengthen me. As United Methodists we have John Wesley’s “General Rules” to provide at least a starting point for this work. Divided into three categories, these “rules” help us to live out the faith we claim in our baptism – (1) Do no harm; (2) Do good; (3) Attend to the means of grace – the God–given, God-giving activities such as Holy Communion and searching the Scriptures. If you want to explore these further click here: <General Rules> (the first page gives some history, the second page shows the rules themselves).
I hope to write more to you about this work of spiritual training, which is more accurately called spiritual living. In the meantime, take time to be in prayer. Pick a book of the Bible and read a chapter each day – read it more than once and let God speak to you through His Word. Don’t just try it for a day or two, make it a daily routine. I look forward to hearing how God is making you stronger and giving you greater endurance day by day.
Holy high-five to you,