I have quite the "rant" to go on about tonight. Some people that don't know me really well, still don't understand where I "come from" when it comes to a blend of my faith and my fitness. I would like to try to expalin it as best I can tonight! There is a huge overlap of what you can feel with your faith journey and your fitness journey. People who have not taken up the "challenge" of following Jesus will not understand (I'll explain what I mean by challenge in a bit), just as people that have not taken up the challenge to get their health in check with fitness will not understand. Let me TRY....
First, when I say "challenge" of following Jesus, I'm referring to the fact that it might not be as easy as some people make it seem. A lot of non-Christians think that we as Christians have perfect lives and that Jesus makes them that way. The Bible does not tell us that at all...the Bible tells us ,"Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23. Following Jesus is easy when life runs smoothly; our true commitment to Him is revealed during trials. Jesus assured us that trials will come to His followers. Discipleship demands sacrifice, and Jesus never hid that cost. NOW, this is also true of fitness. Before I started working out and being more active, I looked at people who did this on a regular basis and thought, "Oh they are just born athletes and it just comes easy for them." The more people I come across that are disciplined athletes, are the complete opposite. They have overcome hardships and many trials to be as good as they are. For a lot, it has not come easy.
Eyes On the Prize:
This is absolutely true of the way we should lead our spiritual life and the way we need to train our minds for anything physical. "Eyes On the Prize" is a song that was written based on Luke 9:62, Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Nothing in this world should take your eyes off of the real prize that we are continually running towards. If you look back then you are not focused enough on what you need to be, God. I don't think I need to explain too much, what "eyes on the prize" makes you think about during a race, but what I might need to explain is how I relate the two. Nothing, NOTHING I have been able to accomplish is of my own doing!! I realize this and completely embrace the grace and love that God has given to me. There is no better time for me to thank him for this, or to break out some real prayer time, than when I'm running. A lot of this is due to the fact that I use it as an analogy. Spiritually I am always trying to run in a forward motion. I love the words of Paul on this topic, "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14. I have come such a long way spiritually and physically over the past couple of years. God prepared me spiritually first, knowing that he would then prepare me physically. I would NOT, nor did I ever in my past before turning my life over to Christ, have been able to stick with a plan and endure the discipline that it takes if it wasn't for God showing me your faith also takes discipline, especially in times of trial and tribulations. On my long runs I love to come up with a specific topic to pray about. I will also tend to make a mental list of people that I know need prayer and pray for them while I'm running. The other week there were so many that I almost wrote it out on paper to carry along with me!
I do tend to talk a lot about my training, my running, races etc., but those that know me, also know that I give ALL the glory to God on this most wonderful journey and would not be on it, if it was not for Him! I do not want anyone to lose sight of that, or to take any of my training posts, Bible verses, topics on encouragement, pictures for motivation, my goals or my accomplishments as being proud, boastful, or self-centered. Again, God is my strength in all of this and will always be my ultimate "prize". My relationship with Him has grown so much stronger in being able to connect my faith and my fitness. Having such gratitude and awe towards Him has taught me to see how powerful our God really is and all you have to do is ask for His help.
I'm not sure where He's leading me right now, but I know it's to help others. THAT is the reason why I post so much about my training and fitness. Along with all of my praises I also post my struggles. I want people to see that just like a Christian has to go through some hard times to grow, so does an athlete. (yes I believe I just actually called myself an athlete). God has placed His hands on so many people's lives by giving me the opportunity to follow Him and by answering my prayer of healing. This is what I hope God keeps doing through all that I post. It is again, NOT my doing. I just had a friend thank me today for being an inspiration to her. She was involved in a really bad car accident a few years ago and has struggled with fitness and pain issues since then. In reading my posts and blogs she has started to get some motivation to start her own journey. I shared with her today that I draw all my strength from God and that He is the reason I've been able to stick with a program. I leave you with another of my favorite verses because yes, in my mind it blends faith and fitness...and if fitness helps me draw closer to God then I say, "Go sweat!" In the end, I'm winning the "real" prize and in the end...that's really all that matters isn't it??
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. " 1 Corinthians 9:24-27