Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Secret to Spiritual Strength ~

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18

Chapter 20 of  Meeting God in Quiet Places: The Cotswold Parables  by F. LaGard Smith involves  flexing your spiritual muscles in order to be spiritually strong. The secret of being strong spiritually is doing spiritual exercises--spiritual exercises that will increase your godliness. And it takes the same moaning and groaning, and huffing and puffing that physical exercise takes! 

We all know how to make our bodies strong, don't we? LaGard recounts his journey toward fitness and better health by making his body stronger, walking in the Cotswolds. He tells us: "There are any number of reasons for my daily walks in the Cotswolds. The beauty, the relaxation, the solitude--they all call out to me, 'Come!' And so each day I head up to the hills. But this year my daily walks became part of a regimen of keeping fit, and may have turned out to be a lifesaver."  

He says that walking in the hills is hard if you aren't used to it. And we can all imagine how difficult it would be go hiking in the shape we're in. Mostly we all do the same thing...too much eating and sitting and not enough movement in our daily lives. But if, like LaGard, we will renew our determination to be fitter and healthier, we can condition our bodies to go further and gain vitality and stamina. We can lose weight and gain energy by exercising our physical bodies!
And so it's easy to transfer that understanding from exercising your physical body to exercising your spiritual body, as the apostle Paul said when he compared the "crown that will not last" with "the crown that will last forever." And he understood this principle well, because later he said to the evangelist Timothy, "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." Yes, you understand what he's saying:  spiritual exercise creates godliness.

It can be hard for us to give much thought to exercising the spirit when there are so many physical duties pulling on our time and energy. But thinking about how fast our lives are moving, it becomes more and more important to increase our spiritual strengthen our godliness. And since all exercise is hard work, we know that there is pain involved!

And that's where most of us balk! The last thing we want is pain! So you may be wondering if there is any good news in spiritual exercise. Yes...the good news is that you'll have God's strength to pull you up the hills as you make your spiritual journey. The prophet Isaiah put it this way:
"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Now just give those words a little more thought..."They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." And think about the promise that was made: "They will soar on wings like eagles!" That's a breathtaking statement!

And on that promise, I'll leave the lesson with you for today. Tomorrow we'll go further. Have a wonderful weekend. And remember that the secret to spiritual strength is spiritual exercise!


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