For me right now it’s weight loss. I noticed a chart in the doctors office a year or so ago that indicated I was considered medically obese. WOW...that caught my eye. People never see themselves as others see them. Overweight, yes. Obese? Don’t think so.
But the symptoms pointed in that direction (inability to sleep well on my stomach was one of them, as was acid reflux)...so I decided to get myself back into shape last spring. My goal: Drop 50. That would get me back to where I was during my college days. After lugging in 40 pound bags of salt for our water softener over the years, I was excited to think of losing even more than one of these.
At this point, eight months down the road, I have seen pretty good success. But the road has not been a straight one. The first pounds came off quickly. The enthusiasm that generated helped the following pounds to continue falling away. I eventually made it to 30 of the 50 pound goal. 60% of the way there. Pretty good. But that’s when I began to slip in my regimen a bit. I figured ‘what the heck, I’d lost so much, loosening up a bit won’t hurt’, right?
Wrong. In the space of several weeks about 10 pounds were back on. Ouch.
Now I’m trying to get my mind back into the track that got me where I’d been. And to this point, I’ve dropped about four of those added 10 pounds. Lesson learned? I hope so...
The takeaway from this experience is that life is not a sprint...it’s a marathon. My weight loss experience has been a sprint to this point...and I’m not to where I want to be yet. And even when I get there, I will need to continue to exercise discipline to stay where I know I should be. That’s hard...because I really like to eat the kind of food that puts the weight back on. True lifestyle change is not easy, as it means change for the long haul.
I believe many things parallel this weight loss story. For instance, consider how our spiritual discipline is something that ought be for the long haul. Connecting with God...through prayer, worship, Scripture, service...is vitally important to our spiritual health. It also allows God to use us more effectively to achieve His Kingdom purposes in and through us. But it’s not just a short-term deal. A six-week Bible study is a good start, but hopefully it is just a springboard to help build the discipline that will carry forward into our future for the rest of our lives.
If I can continue to see the spiritual disciplines as not just something I ought to do...but a way in which I can connect with the God who has given His very Son to save my life, it becomes an aspect of a loving two-way relationship rather than just a duty to perform. And that can make all the difference. Now I will look forward to these encounters with God rather than making excuses to avoid them. Now I will anticipate interesting things happening each day that have God’s fingerprints on them. That’s what can give life the zest and excitement that overcomes the dull and mundane and disappointing aspects that come into all our lives at times.
One of the mini-prayers that I say occasionally is “God, help me experience the joy of my salvation.” If I can recall the incredible love of God, and the assurance of my eternity with Him, it can change my whole attitude and help me to be a better ambassador for Jesus Christ. Remembering our first love for God is important.
So...is your spiritual life a sprint to a short-term goal? Or does it more closely resemble a marathon journey with Christ to an eternal destination? If it’s the former...and sometimes it becomes that for me...lift up a prayer to God asking Him to refresh your faith and help you to set your eyes upon Jesus, who desires us to walk with him daily so that He can help us to be all that He has created us to be.
Enjoy the journey...