Friday, September 20, 2013

Use it or lose it

The principle of use it or lose it is well known and universally believed in the fitness world. When you stop physical training, no matter how fit you are, you are going to lose your capacity to perform at the levels you once could. In one study, fit individuals (people who had a steady routine of working out for a year plus) were told to quit their workout program so that their decline in capability could be measured. Within three months they couldn't even perform half of their previous aerobic capacity. What it took a year to build, it took only three months to destroy.
It is undeniable, when you quit challenging your muscles they quit showing up. When you don't use them they will, inevitably, be lost.
I found this out the hard way when my treatments by my chiropractor sidelined me from any physical activity. From dead-lifts to vacuuming, my orders were no physical exercise - except walking. All I was allowed to do was walk to my hearts content. In fact, walking was prescribed and encouraged. It would be good for the flared muscle in my leg, the chiropractor told me. This was a prescription I was happy to fill. I walked to my hearts content and then some. I walked Pippy everyday without fail. My walking muscle was and is in great shape.
Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for my fitness capabilities in any other area. I couldn't lift the smallest of weights in the gym for any more than a few reps. My ability to run was beyond pathetic. Doing squats - even with just my body weight - made me fatigued before I even finished the first set. I had lost all of the muscle I had once worked so hard for. I wasn't able to use it for over a year and in return I lost it.
When I stepped back into a gym, grasping the light five pound weights, the task ahead looked daunting and frankly, embarrassing. My arms and legs looked like sticks. I was starting from scratch. But slowly and surely I was able to build some endurance and strength back into my little body. I had to start small, but by sticking to a routine again I was able to see progress. I simply had to start challenging the muscles.
This morning you may be feeling weak and out of shape - and I don't just mean physically. Spiritually you may be feeling dry. Maybe it has been a while since you've worked anything out with God. Your spiritual muscle may be flabby or nonexistent. Let me give you a word of encouragement: you can get it back in shape.
There is no quick fix to a flabby muscle, be it a bicep, tricep, or hamstring. The same goes for your spiritual muscle. To rebuild, or to start the building process for the very first time, you have to push through the embarrassment of weakness, the difficulty of getting into a routine and the discomfort that comes  from challenging yourself in a new way. When you begin the task ahead it will look daunting. But be encouraged, the muscle can and will respond! You just need to keep coming to the table, keep coming to the gym, to stimulate the muscles.
To retrain your spiritual muscle it will take time in God's word - more time than just a Sunday morning or mid-week Bible study. Daily, regular Bible reading is the only way to truly get to know God's word and strengthen your scriptural knowledge muscle. This muscle holds fast to the promises of God, knows the truths and scriptures and is able to combat the attacks of the devil by using the words of God as a weapon. You need this muscle.
Your spiritual muscles need to bathed in prayer. Through prayer you become in tune with the guiding of the Holy Spirit. There is no way to explain what it is like to be filled with God, it goes beyond mere words. It is an indwelling that takes you soaring to new heights and gives you a peace that overcomes all of your circumstances. Prayer is our connection with this power. We are able to come to our Father and lay down our burdens. Through prayer we become filled with more of His love.
Possibly the hardest part of training the spirit for me personally is spending quiet time with God. This should be easy, right? Just silence yourself. Rest in the presence of the Lord God. Yet, for me being still can be a challenge. This is a muscle that could use some toning in my own life. God wants to speak to me but when I'm doing all the talking I run the risk of missing what He has to say. I need to quiet my lips and open my ears to truly listen with the belief that God will speak to me.
Whether it is a flabby soul or flabby tummy, there is hope! Your body and spirit have the ability to be toned again. You are not destined to a life of weak muscles. Through a steady routine of training your muscles and challenging them in new ways, you can see progress and growth. The potential is all there, you just need to get started. You have all that is needed to become an amazing picture of transformation. You just pick up your Bible; pick up that set of weights.

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