Spiritual Shape Up

When I say the word shape up, I think of those ridiculous sneakers that Phil Dunphy wears while walking with his hiking poles and sweatband.  The fact of the matter, however, is that I’m out of shape.  This past weekend we held our annual church Turkey Bowl!  Turkey Bowl is a time for people of all ages to come out and play flag football as a church.  For students it’s just another activity but for the adults, it’s a time to relive the glory days!  It’s a chance to go out and throw one more touchdown pass, juke out one more defender, or shotgun snap one last football.

Now I was an all-state center in high school, hence the shotgun snap reference, and I played a year of college football, so for me this was a chance to get the pigskin back in my hands.  However, while I am only 24, I am not even close to the shape that I was in when I played my senior season in high school and right now and I type this post, it is painfully obvious (quite literally).  Rather than try and act like I am still at top form and could compete now if I strapped on pads, I will admit that my wife helped me put my socks on yesterday because it hurt to bend over.  I could not believe how sore my body was.  My legs, back, and sides were hurting to the point where it was hard to get in and out of our car.  It was just turkey bowl for goodness sake!

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As I thought about what I was going to post today, I couldn’t help thinking about the pain of motion and it got me thinking a lot about our spiritual state.  See as a youth pastor, I often think in sermons.  Every day life ends up being part of my weekend talks (You can start praying for my future children now because they won’t be able to escape the sermon illustration vortex).  Whether it’s a movie, a football game, or turkey bowl I see ties to what that means for us spiritually and how I can be a better follower of Christ.

As I sat wallowing in my pain yesterday, I told Alicia that I hadn’t felt this way since football workouts, and I meant it!  See back in my football days, I worked out daily and trained to be the best possible player that I could be.  My team strove for greatness and we were 3 time regional champions!

I'm the one holding the trophy. (3 Time Regional Champs)

However, I don’t play football anymore and so I’m not in that kind of shape anymore.  Where at one time I could go through a three-hour practice, I now found myself tired and sore after playing 2 hours of flag football.  The fact is that our spiritual disciplines are just like our physical disciplines, they take practice.  Just like football took weight lifting and conditioning, my walk with the lord takes conditioning.

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.  (1 Corinthians 9:27 NLT)

Reading your Bible may not be as easy as opening it and reading for an hour.  You may have to wake up earlier.  Praying might not be as easy as getting on your knees.  You may need to find a place away from the office, the kids, the TV, the cell phone, the computer, and all of you other distractions.  Even when you’ve eliminated all of these distractions, it still takes time to pray and, if you’re like me, there are still going to be a million things running through your head (Your Mental T0-Do List).  The thing is that you may find yourself spiritually sore as you begin to practice these disciplines.  You may find it hard to open your Bible day in and day out when Leviticus is giving you another list of people and numbers.  You may find it hard to stay focused when your prayer list is overwhelmingly long.  You may find it hard to journal when you have so little time to do so.  You may find it hard to fast when people want to have lunch meetings or when your wife is as good a cook as mine is.  However, discipline is what’s need in order to spiritually shape up.

However, you know what helps when your muscles are sore? Stretching!  When your muscles are tight and everything seems out of reach, monotonous, or just too much work, you have to stretch.  Believe me when I say that the last thing that I want to do right now is walk around and stretch out my legs, but stretching brings relief, or as Kramer says in Seinfeld, “From pain comes pleasure.”  Discipline yourself spiritually.  Stretch yourself and you will see endurance produced in your life.  I need to start preparing for next year’s turkey bowl now and maybe then, my team won’t lose on a failed 2 point conversion on the last play of the game.

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.  (Hebrews 10:36 ESV)

–Jason

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Posted on November 21, 2011, in Spiritual Disciplines and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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