Before I pulled my calf muscle yesterday, I had started back at working out after, as I said, a three year hiatus. (I went back to school fulltime and got a job….to help pay for the schooling.) Until that time, however, I had routinely worked out for eleven years, 5-6 days a week. That’s a lot of sweat. The interesting thing was you’ve wouldn’t have know it by looking at me. I was not rail thin and I didn’t have bulging muscles. In fact, I couldn’t tell any difference. So what kept me going? Obviously, I didn’t do it as a weight loss program. That would be living insanely. I kept at because I knew this was not a passing fad. I was committed or the long haul…a life-long commitment to good health. I was equally convinced what may not be visible on the outside did not preclude what’s going on on the inside. Somehow I knew it made a difference in my life whether I could see it or not. I may not have looked different but I knew I was stronger, leaner, better equipped on the inside, with an inner, imperceptible strength that would carry me in time of need. To be honest, I wanted to be able to carry my own groceries up a flight of stairs and play with my grandchildren when I was eighty. I wanted it to make a difference in how I would live. It wasn’t until I quit did I realize what a difference it made.
In the same respect, spiritual training is what’s needed to develop a faith that will carry us in difficult times and that will last. It will need to be intentional, life-long, Holy Spirit dependent, and practically lived out in everyday moments. (There’s your work out plan!)
Incredibly, when we do…there is a place forged deep inside our hearts that is sacred, inviolable and unseen that cannot be touched by outside suffering or pain. It is the place where we keep those precious things that make life worth living, despite pain, despite loss. It is a place we hang our hat of faith and hold on to hope.
It becomes the place where we can pray. It’s where we can enjoy God. It’s where we hear his voice speak to us. It becomes the place where we surrender our lives to his will and purposes. This is a place which recognizes God working below the surface; a place that can survive unfulfilled longings. It is a place which recognizes small signs of God’s activity in our lives; a place which embraces and recognizes divine appointments, opportunities for grace, and God-ordained, God-infused moments. And more. I love The Message rendering of Matthew 5:8, “You’re blessed when you get your inside world-your mind and heart- put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”
Just like my physical work outs, we will never know the health this kind of training it has forged or the injury it has prevented. That’s why we keep at it…day in and day out.