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Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1Corinthians 9:23-27

Am I the only one these days who is finding the motivation for exercise just a little bit elusive? Not pounding down the turf with quite the passion as before? Line forms to the right. A long year of lassitude and languor in lock-down has quenched my desire. Why should I exercise? I don’t even shower! Get dressed up? There’s nowhere to go. Think about styling my hair? No one sees it! Make-up? Can’t find it. Bra? I don’t think so. Get all instruments of torture away from me.

It’s a standing joke among business people to have Zoom meetings without worrying about formal pants below the camera line. Athleisure-wear has become high fashion. The honest are confessing to packing on a few Covid pounds. Everyone is finding the struggle to uphold previous standards for work-ethic, personal hygiene and physical fitness more than a little challenging. We’ve found countless ways to cope by cutting the corners on what was, once, a long time ago, normal life.

Despite all the change, turmoil and anxiety, the last thing we should be relaxing on is our spiritual discipline. This is a time to press in, not slack off. Embrace the weights for resistance training! Hearing and obeying the Word of the Lord is more critical than ever. In fact, the pandemic is presenting us with a unique and unduplicatable opportunity to radically hone our spiritual chops. When you have nothing but desire and desperation, it’s amazing how clearly you can hear the oracle voice of the Lord.

Whether we like it or not, this is a fierce crucible of disciplining and testing for everyone on the planet. We are being pushed beyond our normal range of tolerance like A-list Hollywood actors bulking for a high-powered summer action block-buster. It’s spiritually sagacious to embrace the cresting conditions at hand and surf the wave. Because of God’s goodness, we can always be assured that we are being primed to take our place as the Sons of God in creation as never before.

…of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil Hebrews 5:11-14

Here’s a bit of interesting trivia for you keeners out there. The word/concept for exercise and gymnasiums actually comes from the Greek: Gymnazo (Strong’s # 1128) which means: To exercise vigorously whether with the body or mind. It’s used here in this Hebrews 5 passage to describe the kind of mental, emotional and psychological toughening that comes with trusting the Lord, believing His word and then adjusting your behavior to accommodate new growth in supernatural tone. Unfortunately, evil times also produce muscles in wickedness, deception or bitterness. What are you learning?

God knows we’ve mastered new flips, hand-stands, tumbling and even a solid spring off the high vault! Negotiating new demands is akin to a program on the uneven bars or the test of core strength on the rings. Lots of it wasn’t pretty, but we made it through without broken bones. Even put on a pretty good show on the balance-beam!

Affliction, tribulation, persecution, uncertainty and countless other negative experiences are really the whetstone of our core strength. How vigorously are we embracing them? Where does faith stand against the bullies of these times? It’s a moment for searching of hearts, deep prayer and open-hearted liberality. How is change touching you? Where are you forever transformed? Which spiritual muscles are stronger than ever before? When are you going to show off that Holy-Spirit six-pack?

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

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