A week ago a friend gave me her old bike because I had mentioned I was interested in getting one. She's getting ready to move and is trying to downsize. So my other good friends decided that since I had a bike to ride, they would take me with them to a local state park to ride the trail and go fishing afterward. Pretty relaxing, you think? Well...not entirely. Do you know how long it's been since I've ridden a bike? I'm guessing it has been 20 years. Granted, I feel like I'm fit enough, as fit as a girl can be who can run .7 mile. Thank you very much. But running and biking use different muscles. Muscles I haven't used in 20 years.
As we got ready to start the bike ride, I was told that the trail was 3.3 miles, and we would have to ride to the end and back. They were just saving that little tidbit of information until it was absolutely necessary to inform me. That means I would be riding a total of 6.6 miles. I was thinking, Uh yeah...I'm game!?! The ride was grueling! There were lots of hills and some steep ones, at that. There were moments I thought I would die because of the searing pain in my knees and quads, but I just kept going.
When I woke up the next morning, I felt like I was sick. My body ached, my head was cloudy, and I was so tired. But it was Sunday, and there surely is no rest for the weary when you're in ministry. I was finally functioning by the time I got to Sunday school, so I was glad of that.
Despite the discomfort of the challenge, I found myself wanting to ride my bike again. I kept thinking about when the next time might be when I could do that. That puzzled me. Why wouldn't I dread it? It was hard! As I was out for my run on Monday, though, the thought came to me. I like being physical. I enjoy pushing my body hard, exerting energy, and striving for a goal to see just how far I can reach. It brings me a satisfaction I don't get from other things in my life. Suddenly, everything clicked in my mind, and I understood why I like playing tennis, golfing, biking and running. It's because God made us to be physically active people. He gave us muscles that we might be bodies in motion. He puts it within us to do the grueling thing that we might learn to be disciplined. Of course I find satisfaction in being physical. I'm using my body the way God intended it to be used.
This is the last thing I ever thought would come out of my mouth. I have always hated exercise. That's why it confounded me when I started to crave going out to run. I learned to be disciplined in my running, hoping that it would flow over into my spiritual life. So I kept working at it. Today I guess I feel like it's come full circle. The spiritual is now effecting the physical. I finally see God's purpose in the physical, and I believe they work hand in hand.
If you're not a physically active person, find a friend to help you get there. It doesn't have to be like gym class when they made you do what the teacher planned and then gave you a grade. Pick an activity that you're curious about or that you've always wanted to try. Ask a friend to teach you how to play, or just ask them to take a walk with you. That's where it started for me, and I can testify that a pushy friend is even better at helping you do the hard thing. Just get out there, and do something. You just might love it after all.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27a
25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control....