I am writing this post the day after Easter. For Christians, Easter is a very
important time of the year because it represents the day that Jesus rose from the grave: demonstrating both His divinity and His power in the present world.
I am also writing this while we in South Carolina are under mandatory quarantine because of the coronavirus. Most of us had not even heard of this virus until February. Since then, we have seen it turn our entire world upside down.
Recently, we got a journal called Christ Walk, a 40-Day Spiritual Fitness Programby Anna Fitch Courie. In the Introduction, she describes herself as “average, average height, average looks, average intelligence, average Christian, average person.” That’s pretty average. She had trained as an RN and worked as a health promotion coordinator for the 1st Infantry Division. So she should have some insights on how to be healthy.
She started a walking program at her church, and that’s the basis of most of this book. It’s more of an encouraging journal than a how-to exercise manual. In other words, instead of a coach in your ear, she’s a friend who goes through the journey with you.
The book we got was especially interesting because it was second-hand and someone had already filled it in. Reading through it was like watching someone else go through the program.
But the lady who had the book ran into some of the same problems that many of us encounter. She had great plans, but life jumped in. She wanted to walk on the treadmill each day. Now, treadmills are great, but not so much everyday. It’s easy to get bored and they’re never in a convenient place.
On day four, she journaled that her family schedule conflicted with her goal, that she hurt, and she didn’t do anything. “She failed.” Her words. Day five was also a bad day and you could see the trend building on her. One bad day often leads to another, and then to abandoning the plan.
I was proud of her though, she kept with it. She gave it another try toward the end, but she’d lost heart. If she was like many of us, clothes were hanging on her treadmill.
The last few weeks were underlined, but the journal part was blank. And you could tell it had become a burden. She was probably in a class doing her homework.
Her goal of growing spiritually, mentally, and physically turned into just another chore. Been there, done that.
Here are a few tips I would have given her:
Keep your program flexible. The treadmill is tough because you can’t fit it into your daily life. I like tracking steps with a fitbit (mine is a Garmin Vivofit) because I can do a little here, a little there, it all adds up. But a treadmill is great as the days get colder, shorter, and wetter. I have an indoor bike and I can ride it and still be home with Madison. But, when the weather permits, I want to walk in the neighborhood. And little bits add up. You do have to do it all at once.
Don’t jump in the deep end. She expected herself to hit her goals from day one. That’s why she wrote, “She hurts.” Start light, not necessarily easy. Remember, this was a forty day challenge. You don’t want to do on day one, what you’ll do on day 40. Allow yourself to build up to it.
Pack extra rope. She didn’t leave herself any room for error. Something will happen to murk up your plans and schedule. Your family will have sports, sickness, something. Your work will require overtime. Be ready to allow yourself to miss a day or to work around the conflict.
And finally, you may fail, but you aren’t a failure. Any step forward is a step forward. Again, like I said in the last post, life is a marathon. You will have a lot of starts and stops. But don’t let your stops be final, make them timeouts and get back up. In running, there’s a formula:
This means, read backwards, Dead Last is better than Did Not Finish, which is better than Did Not Start. At least you got off the couch. It’s about doing better than you think, or you did before.
Our goal should be to keep striving to get better; physically, mentally, and spiritually. Remember, this side of Heaven, you will always be a work in progress.
As a story teller/writer/teacher, I am always seeking an audience, for what good is a story without someone to tell it to? What good is a joke without someone to laugh at it?
And how much better is it to share a message from God with someone who needs it, then to just hold it in your heart?
As a Christian, it’s important to discern when to tell what God has shown you and when to keep your mouth shut. The story of Joseph and his dreams of his brothers should make that clear. Joe tells his older brothers his dreams, God given and true, and his brothers thinks he’s bragging.(Genesis 37) Well, that’s the way older brothers are.
Ms McDowell reminds us of the snowy January Sunday morning in England in 1850. No snow plows, no central heating. A pastor’s nightmare determining whether to have church or not. Will enough people show up?
On this morning, the pastor didn’t show up. Only a few people sat scattered throughout the sanctuary. No one was really prepared to preach, but they couldn’t just send everyone back out into the cold. So one of the deacons agreed to get up and blather his way through.
There was a need and he stepped up. And from the records, it was bad. He didn’t say anything that was memorable. All that he had was passion for God.
But there was one teenager whose life was changed that day. A guy by the name of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who went on to be a great preacher, teacher, and to have a huge influence on both England and America.
All because a man stepped up when the opportunity presented itself.
He didn’t have to. He could have said it wasn’t worth it, not enough people. His platform was too small. Or it’s too hard to build a platform, so why bother. But if you have a story to tell, having a platform may not be the main factor. It may be one person, who takes what you in faith said, who then changes the world.
Perhaps your effort will be worth it after all.
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