A few weeks ago I ran a half marathon. Well, I ran 10.5 miles and then walked 1 and then ran the last 1.6. All in all it was 13.1 miles of borderline torture.
As I was crossing the finish line, the second place marathon runner was finishing. He looked like he had just woken up from a nap. He was relaxed, calm and really not that sweaty. And he had just run 26.2 miles in the time it took me to run 13.1.
I didn't train before the race. I realized after it was over that I had only run about 6 times in 2008 by the time the race came around. I was supposed to train for maybe 8 weeks but felt like I could probably gut it out.
I mention this story because when I write about how the D in my SWORD* concept is Dance, I realize that it's going to be easy to say, "Ugh, exercise, I hate running." Or maybe, "The gym is just full of people that are trying to hook up." Or "I don't have the money or time to workout."
And those are all pretty good excuses. It used to kill me when I'd see girls putting on makeup for the gym or guys texting on the treadmill. And gyms can be expensive and running, sucks. Hard.
But the biggest excuse to justify not working out, the one that most of us secretly believe, is that God doesn't have much to do with our bodies.
Sure, he doesn't want us doing drugs or cutting ourselves or things like that, but he can't be interested in my diet or how often I push myself physically. He's not like that, right?
I don't know. I'm not so sure anymore. What if we took the bible the wrong way? What if, all along we believed it was meant for our soul, but it's really meant for our life? That is, the soul was part of it, but it's bigger and broader than that. Maybe it's full of wisdom for our mental life, our emotional life and even, our physical life? What if the bible was about every inch of your life?
It's an interesting thing to think about and as I did, it was easy to find examples of God's physical focus within the pages of the bible:
1. David trains for Goliath.
When Saul doubts that David can defeat Goliath, here's how David responds:
I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."
It was like he told Saul, "Come on, I can run this half marathon. I used to run 20 miles all the time when I was a kid."
And note, even though ultimately this scene is about trusting in the God almighty, the example David gives is definitely more in the physical realm than the spiritual realm. He doesn't say, "It's cool, when I was younger I prayed a ton and should be able to do this." No, instead he says, "I beat up bears, I can take this dude."
2. Daniel will kick Jared's butt.
I'm kind of done with that Jared guy from Subway. I've just had enough Jared for the rest of my life. But long before he was the face of healthy living, Daniel was the man on the billboards. Here's what he says to one of his master's servants when he's living in captivity and doesn't want to eat the food served him:
"Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see." So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
On the surface that's a cool story and if I was a vegetarian I would probably use those verses to be kind of a jerk about why God loves people that eat vegetables. But it only gets cooler, because here is the next verse, God's response:
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.Was God OK with Daniel putting some focus on what he put into his body? Did he tell Daniel, "Whoa there broccoli guy, I care only about the soul." No, he gifts them knowledge and understanding.
3. Harder, better, faster, stronger.
Look through some of the key sections of the bible and show me someone that does something amazing for God that didn't involve them using their bodies in some fashion. Jonathan had to do some mountain climbing against the Philistines before God rocked his world. David used a sling to strike his enemy down. Joshua and his crew walked for days before God knocked the walls down. Several of the disciples were fisherman with callused hands and the kind of forearms people that don't work in cubicles have. Paul compared faith to a race. The Exodus, you can go on and on.
I guess my point, is that there was never a "bed disciple." Someone that stayed home and didn't do anything physical. You never hear about "Bill, the lazy disciple." And one of the gifts Christ kept giving people was the use of their bodies. When he healed people he might have been aiming for their heart, but they also got the gift of their legs back and their arms back and their bodies back.
Maybe he wants to give you yours back today. Maybe in addition to your soul, he cares about your body. Maybe a few minutes a day is going to change the way you live and unlock some things that are hidden. Maybe it's easier than you think and even more important, holier than you think.
This post goes well with:
1. The day I took back the day.
2. The day of the sword. Part 1
3. A tale of convicts and candy. SWORD - Part 2
4. Ugh. Christian Radio. SWORD - Part 3
5. I got fired from the carnival. SWORD - Part 4
6. Karoshi will not have me. SWORD - Part 5
*SWORD is my way to focus on a few things that I want to do every day: Serve, Worship, Order, Rest and Dance. I try to do each one at least 12 minutes a day, for a solid hour of focused living.