Fitness, Letters to My Kids, Ministry

A Call to Self-Discipline

Dear Daughter of Mine,

As your Daddy pastors our church and I learn ministry alongside him, we both hold deep convictions that discipleship must remain our core focus. As individuals, as leaders, and as a church, we must be in constant pursuit of Jesus, to know Him more and be changed into His likeness.

This morning at the gym, I was challenging my arms with some slow reps of heavy weights. The work was hard, but it felt good. I knew I was becoming stronger through the pain, being a good steward of the body I’ve been given. I want to be an example to you, my daughter, of how to respect your body, how to care for it, and how to continually make it more holy. Yes, I believe our physical body should be in pursuit of God’s holiness – the wholeness He created us for – just as our spirits ought to be.

I paused to take a breather and stretch my shoulders. And the metaphor hit me like a ton of bricks:

Christian discipleship is a mirror of physical fitness. Each individual is in charge of their own spiritual and physical health. No one can force us to read our Bibles or pray in earnest. No one can force us to develop a workout routine and stick to the challenge. We must embark on our personal journey of self-discipline. We must decide in our own hearts to pursue Jesus more deeply, to go through the dark parts of our souls, to confess sins hidden, to learn passion for the Scriptures. We must decide in our own minds to go to the gym, to lift heavier weights, to go a longer distance, to increase resistance, to love the strength we build.

And in both cases our work is never complete. We may reach a new milestone in our Christian discipleship or cross a physical limit in our workouts. We may experience “highs” when we feel like we’ve found the center of our purpose in Christ, or when we can’t imagine living life without fitness. But self-discipline comes into play when we realize that we may have achieved a goal, but our job is not finished. We cannot take a few weeks off and expect to maintain our strength. We cannot say, “I’ve done it. I’ve reached my goal. I’m finished working out (or I’m finished praying.)” It’s ludicrous in both cases. Even the healthiest person – spiritually or physically – realizes their humanity, sees how far they have to go, and knows there are many challenges ahead of them.

The process of physical fitness and the journey of Christian discipleship are never complete. We must embark on their paths with the Spirit God gave us…the Spirit that does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). We ought to anticipate the hard days, the lazy days, the pitfalls, and pursue holiness in our bodies and our spirits. Let us not give up strict training. Let us run the race marked out for us so as to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9:23-25; Hebrews 12:1).

Loving you,
working to be all I was created to be,
longing to be a good example for you,

Mama

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