Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Profitable exercise

In this day of aerobics, weight lifting and jogging, I’ve pondered why the Apostle Paul wrote, “Bodily exercise profits little” (1 Timothy 4:8KJ).
Then I got to thinking about it. It makes no sense to wave my arms around and kick the air for 30 minutes when dust is hiding everywhere, dirt streaks the windows, and clutter threatens my every move.
Instead, I found it more profitable to reach and stretch, reach and stretch, reach and stretch moving the vacuum sweeper back and forth; bend and stand, bend and stand, bend and stand, picking up toys, unloading the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher, loading the washing machine, unloading the dryer, bend and fold, bend and fold.
I lived in homes with stairs most of my life and when I was delivering laundry it was better than a stair stepper at the health club.
But, let’s be honest here. I did like to jog, walk, swim and play tennis. After the five children grew up and I started getting pudgy I increased activity. Paul’s admonition to Timothy, however, was still not far from my mind. Almost as soon as I started my early morning jog, my body would go on automatic and I could forget the motions my feet were making. I could whisper praises to the Lord with my running shoes hitting the pavement. I could petition God for needs, especially for the family. I made use of that time for spiritual benefit.
This extra prayer brought wonderful answers.
I learned I could pray, work on a Sunday school lesson, memorize scripture and outline books or articles, discover the dimensions of my fiction characters and figure out how to get them out of crises, while my hands and feet accomplished other things—whether fixing dinner, washing dishes, vacuuming, making beds, jogging or riding a bike.I often keep a pad and paper nearby.
Today, outside of work around the house (see how much motion you get from painting), most of my exercise is walking. But I still often pray or mentally work on things I need to think about whether I'm walking on the track at the fitness center, in the mall (not shopping) with my husband, or around the neighborhood.
Thinking time should be profitable time. In Philippians 4:8-9, the Apostle Paul told the Philippians church about thinking profitable thoughts. We need to feed our mind good things, then ponder them, meditate on them, and allow them to bear fruit.
If we read the scripture about exercise in context in the New International Version we understand more about what the Apostle was talking about when he discussed physical and spiritual fitness. He says, "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales; rather train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 5:7-8)NIV).
We have other promises about gaining spiritual strength such as Isaiah 40:29-31: "He gives power to the weak,and to those who have no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
Now that is profitable exercise!
-- Ada Brownell’s latest book, Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, is available at http://amzn.com/1466200936