Thought for the Day: I fully realize that my body as a temple may not be God’s most grand dwelling. However, I want to lift up to the Lord my willingness to dedicate my exercise as a gift to Him and myself. This one act un-divides my heart and reminds me of the deeper purposes for moving my body.
Before I met my exercise-loving husband, I believed the only reason a person should sweat was if he or she were lying by the pool. But when I encountered Art, I temporarily changed my attitude. I was smitten. Oh, how I was motivated when I discovered that running was a fantastic way to spend more time with this man. However, on the first day of our honeymoon, when he woke up cheerfully and initiated an early-morning run, I thought, “Gracious, why would I want to do that? We’re married now.” And I didn’t run again for many years.
Sad, but true. Psalm 86:11 – 12 explains my quandary:
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart . . . I will glorify your name forever.
An undivided heart. My heart was divided between exercising for another person’s reasons or finding my own motivation. I’ve found that when it comes to my body, which 1 Corinthians 6:19 calls “a temple of the Holy Spirit,” that I can’t live with divided loyalties. I can either be loyal to honoring the Lord, my husband, and my body, or be loyal to my cravings, desires, and excuses for not exercising.
An Old Testament story in Haggai struck me with the problem that a divided heart creates before God. The Israelites were charged to take care of God’s physical temple by rebuilding the actual structure. But just like most of us, they struggled with a heart divided by concerns about the everyday needs of their city and homes. And so God’s people neglected building the temple for ten years. Each year, something else seemed to be more important.
Likewise, I found that my struggle to exercise got delayed by other things that seemed to be higher priorities. How could I find the time between raising kids, running a home, paying the bills, watching TV, and chatting on the phone with friends?
Just as God promised the Israelites blessings for obedience, he warned them of consequences for not rebuilding the temple as He desired. And while we may not feel the effects of ignoring our health immediately, our choices will eventually catch up to us.
I finally admitted that I needed to make time, just like the Israelites, to care for my temple — my body. So I began exercising consistently with a friend and discovered many motivating blessings. While I can’t say I’m always eager to jump out of bed and start my day in a sweat, I’m always refreshed with the alertness that comes once I’ve started. In addition, my friend and I find time to process life, contemplate decisions, and talk about what God is teaching us. I love the feeling of accomplishment each day. Even if everything else in my day falls apart, I can smile and say, “Yes, but with the Lord’s help, I ran this morning.”
I fully realize that my temple may not be God’s most grand dwelling. However, I want to lift up my willingness to the Lord and dedicate my exercise as a gift to Him and myself. This one act un-divides my heart and reminds me of the deeper purposes for moving my body.
How might you start rebuilding your temple today? Maybe running is not your thing. No problem. I say the best exercise for you is the kind you’ll do.