Over the course of a few weeks we have been studying endurance and/or perseverance and what that looks like as a Christian. I mentioned that I believe there are three areas in our lives that help us overcome and endure: mental, physical, emotionally; or, mind, will and emotions. We’ve discussed mental perseverance, and you can read that here if you’d like.
Before we get further into the second part of this series, I feel it needs to be said that the example I am using in running is not one that is meant to demean or discourage. I understand that there are some who are unable to run, or simply do not like running, and that is just fine. I use the example of running because that is how the Lord has ministered to me for this series. I am an advocate of any form of physical exercise, for reasons we will get to later, whether that is walking, running, swimming, spinning, yoga, what have you. So, if you’re not a runner, don’t feel that this doesn’t apply to you–fill in running with the exercise of your choice.
I love sweets. Love. Them. Cake, ice cream, cookies, candy bars, chocolate, pop.. you name it, I like it. Pop used to be my absolute weakness. I would have two, sometimes three 32oz Dr. Pepper or Pepsi’s a day depending on the day. When I began running, I tried to run on a little less pop, but not enough water. I experienced breathing issues, side pains, and joint pains. I realized that I needed to make more changes than running so that my body could begin to endure. I started cutting back on pop and drinking more water, as well as decreasing the type of food I was eating sugar wise, and increasing in protein and carbs. As I made these changes, I realized it made a huge difference in endurance levels what my body processed on a daily basis.
In Matthews account of the Gospels, he records Jesus saying the following:
Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. (15:17-20)
Luke records the following:
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (6:45)
What we put into our bodies manifests on the outside, both spiritually and physically. Which begs the question: what are you putting into your body, physically or spiritually? Not only does our body physically process food, but it does spiritually.
When we feed our physical bodies junk food, we will reap the consequences of those choices: obesity, weight gain, high cholesterol, heart problems, diabetes, etc. Our bodies are not meant to survive on the junk that we put into them, whether that be food, alcohol, or drugs.
If you were enter into a race, you would prepare, correct? You wouldn’t sit on the couch and eat potato chips and drink a bunch of pop, because then your body wouldn’t be able to withstand the pressure that is being put on it by running. It’s the same spiritually: your body cannot operate on junk. We won’t be prepared for the spiritual battle at hand if we don’t make the changes necessary to be spiritually fit on the battlefield.
How do things get into our hearts? Things we watch, things we read, things we say, people we surround ourselves with, etc. Everything we do plants a seed in our hearts, and it depends on how much water it gets.
When someone signs up to join the military, they go to boot camp. There, they have to train their bodies to endure whatever comes their way. Leisurely lifestyles are stripped away and a more strict schedule is set in place. They have one goal: to be the best solider they can be and to protect their country.
We are soldiers of the Lord’s army, and it’s important that we have this same mindset. We have to train our bodies to endure by making the necessary changes: instead of reading that book, pick up the bible and study God’s Word. Instead of going to the bar, go to bible study or church. Each day we have the opportunity to choose whether we will sow to our flesh, or the spirit. As we make the right choices, it becomes easier to endure. Instead of praying when times get tough, you’ve already established a prayer time with God on a regular basis. If we wait until the battle to start training, we’ll lose the fight, no doubt.
Any type of physical exercise helps with mental clarity, just like reading God’s Word guards against the fiery darts from the enemy. When we spend time in His word, and with Him, we know what His voice sounds like. We don’t turn our eyes to the right or to the left because we know that looking either of those ways will cause us to lose sight of God.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me,is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30, ESV)
So what changes is God calling you to make? Please know that there isn’t an expectation to have every change made in a matter of days, or hours. One change at a time will make a drastic difference across the board.
I won’t say that it’s always easy to make the right choices, because there are some days that I just want to be lax, but this is not a time to be lax. I give the same lecture to myself: if you don’t prepare before the battle, you won’t be prepared in the battle. A solider never goes to a fight without his firearm.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4)