Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 2: The link between physical and spiritual discipline

"The choices I make today determine whether I move toward Him, or toward self and the world."

"Even though we do not sense that we are doing anything profound for God, it is important to understand that God continually works in the daily circumstances of our lives.  Our part is not to look at our situation, but to set our hearts to draw near to our heavenly Father."

     I actually read both of these quotes today.  I hadn't planned to use them in this post, hadn't even picked up the devotional they are from until this morning.  It's amazing how God speaks to my heart in unexpected ways.

     Today I am writing on the connection between physical discipline and spiritual discipline.  For many years I did not consider my physical life connected with my spiritual life.  I thought my walk with the Lord was just some kind of internal thing.  If I read my Bible, did some praying and participated in some kind of faith community I was fulfilling the things necessary for my spiritual life.  

     So, at the same time I was seeking to grow as a Christian, I was ignoring my body.  I paid very little attention to what I gave my body for fuel.  I was not very active (I spent the first nearly 8 years of my marriage in grad school, pregnant or nursing....and I was not very motivated to exercise during those years).  In general, I was a Christian couch potato.  I was not very energetic but, was that a requirement of a good Christian life?  I guess I didn't think so at the time.

     In the last couple of years, though, I've come to believe that truly pursing a godly life is a mind and body exercise.   Elton Trueblood, a 20th century Quaker theologian, said, "Men are combinations of body and mind and spirit, uniting in a working partnership both hand and brain.  They thus have a variety of temptations and any valid religion will be frankly concerned with all of these."

     Jesus, in Luke 10:27 summed up the Law like this, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and will all your strength and with all your mind."  I am called to love God with all that I am and one way I can bring Him praise and honor is to worship him with my body.  When I started taking better care of this body, I noticed new energy and that energy was both physical and mental.  I started being more joyful in my service to my family.  I started being more open to prodding from the Holy Spirit.  I started to love Him more.  For me, being more disciplined in my physical life has led to an increase in discipline in my spiritual life.  And I notice when I become more lax in either area the other starts to fall off as well.  I am a body and a spirit and I cannot ignore either aspect of who I am.

I want to close with a quote from William Law:

Since we are neither all soul nor all body, seeing none of our actions are either separately of the soul or separately of the body, seeing we have no habits but such as are produced by the actions both of our souls and bodies, it is certain that if we would arrive at habits of devotion or delight in God, we must not only meditate and exercise our souls, but we must practice and exercise our bodies to all such outward actions are are conformable to these inward tempers.


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