Today, I am participating in a blog hop surrounding the release of Mary Graziano Scro’s Intentional Fitness, where we’re discussing what it means to be spiritually fit. You can find links to other posts here. Please feel free to post your thoughts on spiritual fitness in the comments, or on your own social media.
I can think of no greater model of spiritual fitness than my dad, who is celebrating 35 years in Christ today.
Believe it or not, I didn’t plan this post specifically for today. It was just that every time I was considering what spiritual fitness meant, I thought of my dad, kneeling in prayer over the various couches our family has cycled through, which he has done every morning since I can remember (before I can remember, even). It was my dad who woke us up every morning after his personal time with God and led my family through Scripture reading and memorization and prayer. While I don’t agree with my dad on everything, I think it’s appropriate to honor his spiritual example today, because I can’t think of anyone else whose spiritual discipline I admire more and aspire to be more like.
To me, spiritual fitness is equal to spiritual wellness, and I base my entire wellness philosophy off of one verse in the book of John. It’s Jesus talking, and He says, “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it to the full.” Contrary to popular prosperity theology, it’s not about having more or doing more or even being more, it’s about thriving in what you have, what you do, and who you are. A fit and healthy spirituality comes from knowing God, and how do we get to know people? We talk to them, and they talk to us. This is the foundation my dad gave me.
As I mentioned, my dad gets up every morning, kneels down, and prays for people and situations until his prayers are answered. When I asked God to make me a prayer warrior six years ago, this is exactly what I had in mind: consistency and persistence in prayer. It’s rare now that a day goes by where I don’t talk to God in some capacity, but I’ll be honest, the longest I’ve prayed over any person was three years, so I still have a long way to go. I’ve learned that intercession is entering into the burdens of others, and that gets agonizing at times, especially when things don’t unfold when and how I think they should. Still, when something comes up that is so much bigger than me, there is no one I’d rather talk to about it than God.
My dad loves the Bible, and he made sure it had a prominent place (and not just literally speaking) in our home as my siblings and I grew up. When I was younger, I think the discipline of reading the Bible often overshadowed that it was God-breathed and dynamic, something to be treasured. As I’ve grown in my own faith, I’ve come to realize the Bible as one of the means through which we get to know God and His heart. I struggle to love all of it, especially Old Testament history books. (I’m working my way through those now – thankfully, I’m in Job, so…almost done!) Still, I’ve come to at least respect the passages I’ve wrestled with the most, and God always leads me to just the right passage when I need comfort in what is happening around me.
I came into the picture nine years after my dad came to know Jesus, and I doubt I have any memories for another three years (give or take) after that. He’d had lots of time to mature spiritually before I came along, and I’ve even seen growth from him since I’ve been here. So, I guess more important than inheriting his disciplined prayer life and knowledge of God is inheriting his ability to grow.
In September, I’ll be one-fifth of the way to where my dad is (time-wise), but even if God gives me the time to get to thirty-five years with Him, my spiritual fitness will still not look exactly like my dad’s. Still, I’ll follow his example by knowing God more and more, and becoming the person HE created me to be.
We live in a world that desperately needs Jesus, but can’t find Him. Why ? Because many who bear His name (Christians) are not spiritually fit enough to walk in His ways. And how do we know what “fit” is in a world that is increasingly void of any mention of the name of Jesus? How do we hear His voice to know His ways with so much godless static assaulting us every day, from all directions? We’re told in the book of Philippians to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Is this working out of salvation anything like other workouts we’re familiar with? Will this workout take discipline, denial, and diet? Will it require intentional effort, possibly even a daily commitment? The answer to all is a resounding yes! Intentional Fitness teaches about spiritual fitness using physical fitness principles and analogies. We work out physically to take care of our bodies; we work out our salvation so others can see Jesus. Only by being intentional about our own spiritual health can we live life to the full – the kind of life Jesus created us to live and died to make possible. And only then can we bring the Kingdom of God and His love to a world in desperate need of both.