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Two verses often come to mind during these exhausting days raising Little People:
She girds her loins with strength, she makes her arms strong. – Proverbs 31:17
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” -Nehemiah 6:9
Nehemiah’s prayer has become my own. And I thought that I would share with you the seemingly unspiritual way God is answering that prayer:
Yes. This is my first pair of running shoes.
I heard a Christian comedian describe the way we pray like this, “God, please turn these Cheetos into carrots in my stomach!” He meant it metaphorically: we want to keep going in life the way we think is best and have God change the consequences of our foolishness and sin.
But I think that’s very close to what I was literally doing for a long time, “God make me strong, give me energy for this very physical stage of motherhood. And do it magically! No exercise, please.”
You might have heard Christians talk about how our bodies are the temple of the Living God as a motivation to stay in shape.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
-1 Corinthians 6:19-20
But I don’t think that’s handling the text very carefully. Verse 18 says, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (emphasis mine). So the whole point is that sexual immorality is unique. Sexual immorality profanes the temple of God in a way that being unhealthy does not.
But I’m still trying to exercise more. Why? Because it’s wise. God has given me a body and jobs to do with my body. My body is a tool. Now there would be plenty of foolish reasons to exercise too. Like if you neglect the work God has clearly given you in order to keep the exercise regime that you like. And maybe running won’t be the best way for me to exercise and going on hikes will be better. But exercising to keep your body as a well functioning tool is a wise thing.
I say that the answer to my prayers seems unspiritual, but it’s really not. Thinking clearly about God plunges us right back down into the very physical world he made. Our physical circumstances show and try the conditions of our hearts; they reveal our spiritual condition. When I don’t exercise because I don’t like it, it reflects my selfishness. When I exercise to glorify myself, it reflects my vanity.
Fearing the Lord leads to wisdom. It is not an abstract wisdom. It is wisdom for living in this physical world in a godly way. It covers everything we do.
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