Over the past few months I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my health and physical fitness, and how they relate to my spiritual condition. There is one passage in particular that God has placed on my heart that often springs to mind (and in fact was read at church this morning):
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (I Cor. 6:19-20)
I’ve exercised a lot over the past few years and have tried to be careful about what I eat, but for so long my primary motivation was vanity, with good health and more energy close behind. Those are good motivating factors, but I no longer think they’re the most important reasons for me to exercise and eat well.
It’s only recently that I’ve come to see taking care of my physical self as an important part of my spiritual life, and to view healthy living as a commandment. It’s definitely a new way of viewing health and fitness, and a sobering one at that. I’d be lying if I said it’s not a struggle–really, a daily one. After nearly a year of fitness boot camp, there are still plenty of days where I really don’t want to get out of bed before dawn to go to it. I still give in to temptations to eat unhealthy food; just this weekend I couldn’t resist the Cadbury Mini Eggs (my favorite Easter candy) on post-Easter clearance (even more of a temptation!). Some days I feel really strong, physically as well as when it comes to resisting temptation and eating well, and other days I feel like a big failure when it comes to honoring God with my body.
There are a few resources that I’ve found particularly helpful as I journey to physical (and spiritual) fitness:
• Books: Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas (which I wrote a blog post about a while back) and Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst. Both books have been especially helpful in getting me to realize the relationship between our physical fitness and spiritual fitness.
• Blog: Peak 313 Fitness (http://peak313.com/)–Written by a Christian woman who provides great practical fitness advice as well as spiritual encouragement.
• Blog: 100 Days of Real Food (http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/)–This family challenged themselves to 100 days of cutting out processed food. Two years later, they continue to eat as “real” food as possible and share lots of tips and recipes for healthy eating, even on a budget.
• Telling friends, family and co-workers about my efforts to live a healthy lifestyle has been a big part of this journey. The more accountability I have (and the more people I have asking about it and encouraging me), the greater success I’ll have.
I suspect that this journey to fitness is going to be a lifelong struggle. I’m not sure I’ll ever reach a point where those Mini Eggs don’t call to me. Like any other task that I feel called to do (be patient with others or steer clear of gossip, for example), I don’t always do what I should. I’m thankful that, just as He’s with me in every other area of my life, the Holy Spirit is at work in this area of my life, giving me wisdom and guidance as I strive to be obedient to what God’s calling me to do regarding my health and fitness.