Exercise has always been a very important part of my spiritual walk. I never really learned how to push myself physically until after I got married. My husband, who is very athletic, taught me how to do calisthenics, to shadowbox, to put a basic workout routine together and coached me when I started running. In the last few years of back-to-back pregnancies, I have still managed to get stronger and more physically disciplined than I ever was before having children, and before my younger child was born I ran up until I was five months pregnant. In my experience, building physical endurance and skill with a spiritual mindset has been incredibly edifying for me, although it is always something I need to do more of, and I have resolved to do so this month. Because trust me, despite my passion for fitness, I definitely still have a long way to go to get in shape.
But to be perfectly honest, the most motivating reason I have to exercise is not to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes again or to look good in a bathing suit. It’s not even to lose weight, although I definitely have some pounds to shed. It’s about the fact that we seem to be in the final days and the time might come when my survival and that of my children depends greatly on my physical endurance.
See, for me, the biggest reason to exercise is that when I am running or lifting weights or pushing myself through a set of burpees, I think about the coming tribulation and all the potential dangers in this life I might need my strength for one day. Telling yourself you are working up strength now to potentially save your child’s life in the future can really put a fire under you to push through a particularly challenging workout. Having small children, just the potential need to be able to pick them up and run out of a building during an earthquake or something is reason enough for me to want to keep my muscles strong, let alone the impending global cataclysmic event or massive financial collapse that could render my family cut off from the infrastructure we rely on to sustain us.
Some of my most precious prayer time takes place when I am running. When I’m physically pushing myself, thinking of the spiritual race I am running and knowing that forcing my body to keep going when all I want to do is collapse in a heap is a small taste of the kind of endurance I will need to make it to that day. Because she who endures to the end will be saved.
Of course, when the tribulation comes and we are faced with trials and suffering never before known on this earth, Christ is our only sure refuge, that is certain. Exercise absolutely will not save us. But there are still many, many practical reasons why we should be taking advantage of the dense nutrition and modern conveniences of exercise equipment and running shoes that we have access to now. To me it just seems prudent to strengthen our bodies and our minds to better protect ourselves and the ones we love in any potential disaster or dangerous situation. And exercise is also a very good practice in sacrificing the flesh for the sake of spiritual growth. Developing a regular exercise routine has an exponentially positive effect on the rest of your life, from regulating sleep, digestion, appetite and energy levels to promoting drive, motivation and follow-through. All things I personally need more of.
I have gotten pretty out of shape lately just getting caught up with work and kids, and so all these reasons have been nagging at me. Even if my comfortable, privileged, first-world life continues on as it is for the next thirty years, there are still a number of reasons to get in shape. As I have mentioned, inactivity and poor diet are hugely debilitating to millions of Americans, and so, for this month, as I am challenging myself to sweat for the end, I’d like to challenge anyone else who needs the motivation to join me. I don’t have any kind of fancy fitness challenge organized at all, but over the next few weeks I’m going to be putting together some information and resources and, hopefully, motivation to help anyone who needs that extra nudge to get up off their tushes and start sweating.
We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!