"Just keep moving, Rachel...."
My sister had dragged me into exercising with her once again. While she still energetically ran in place, I begged her to let me sit down. My legs felt like jelly and I was sure I must be ready to pass out! I thought I might die!
"It's okay if you don't do the jumping jacks. Just walk in place instead. Whatever you do, don't stop moving."
Obviously, I survived that tortuous workout and several others over the years. I have followed the advice of many fitness gurus to "find my why" in working out. I know that my health is important to my family, so I never exercise because I really want to, but because I know it's good for me.
Other than shaking quads and burning biceps, one of the biggest deterrents to regular exercise is the inevitable loss of energy. I usually start off determined and strong, but it never lasts. Shortly into the workout, my jumps are lower and my squats are higher. I want to be toned and healthy, but I convince myself, that I'm not strong enough to finish. I don't have the power to push through the pain.
I know I'm not be alone in this stamina issue. Fitness companies offer pre-workout drinks and Pinterest is packed with links to pre-workout snacks. We all want to be able to push through and finish our workouts so we can experience the post-sweat high of accomplishment.
In the Bible, our call as believers to live both holy and loving lives is equated with physical strain too. The author of Hebrews penned these famous words, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..."
We are told in Scripture to run lives committed to Christ and free from unnecessary burdens or wrongdoing, but where do we find the energy to complete such a task? Any effort dependent on our own fortitude will never last. Our spiritual legs weaken and we struggle to catch a breath in between all the serving, giving, reading,and praying. We simply lack the energy to even jog on our own. We need nourishment for our exhausted spiritual muscles.
Now, this is only a short blog post and many have written entire commentaries on the book of Hebrews, but it is interesting to note that this well-known and much quoted verse in Hebrews comes after eleven chapters outlining the beauty and sufficiency of our Savior. The author takes his readers on a journey through Hebrew history, pointing to the innumerable ways that Jesus is better that the traditions and commandments they held so dear. Each chapter is full of doctrinal truths such as redemption, substitution, and sacrifice. In other words, it is the endurance of Christ that offers us sustaining hope as we run.
This is why the study of theology is so vitally important. Truly grasping the truths of the gospel and God's story of redemption throughout time never stops with head knowledge. It always translates into the motivation to press on in our walk.
Consider these passages written by Paul.
"For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God,who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe." I Timothy 4:10
"For this I toil, struggling with all HIS energy that he powerfully works within me." Colossians 1:28
Christ is both the motivation and the strength for the work we are called to do. When I am enamored with Christ and His work, I am empowered to live a life that reflects Him to those around me.
In other words, Scriptural knowledge is of no help when we simply become spiritually obese. When we allow theological truth to do its work in our hearts (even when it's painful), it becomes the fuel we need to continue steadfastly in the faith.