It’s cold out today! Am I getting a sniffle? Do I really need to do this?
I drag myself out of bed, try to overcome the excuses, and pull on my jogging clothes. After a few minutes outside, my attitude has changed. The bracing air wakens my mind. The pink clouds make me wonder at each day’s new artwork. Trees, birds and flowers delight the eye, as well. My heart, lungs, and muscles thank me for the chance to pump and stretch more.
Others have hit the trail as well. Most joggers pass me by; I am tempted to feel that my pace is inadequate. Sometimes I slow to a walk. No one will be impressed, but in the end… I did it! And when I return, reenergized, it’s hard to believe I faced this as a chore. Still, it’s a challenge to do this regularly, as I know I should.
Surely I’m not the only reluctant jogger. Similarly, I doubt I’m alone in struggling at times with my “spiritual disciplines”. Perhaps even the phrase is inadequate, too harsh, or too legalistic.
For years I’ve made a point of taking time each morning for reading my Bible, often along with a book of short meditations, and praying. When I had to work very early, it was easy to find excuses to postpone this for a later time, but often that never came. Setting my alarm a bit early requires discipline. Things “come up” and my quiet time sometimes vanishes.
In the process, however, I stop to savor a word or idea, perhaps reading it several times. Sometimes I underline a sentence that grabs my attention. A practical application comes to mind: Gotta jot that down! Yes, I must do this! Wow, I should share this with so-and-so! Then, in my prayers, I may think of more and more people to mention, and take longer than I’d planned. My, how time flies “when you’re having fun”, as they say.
Let me mention a few of the similarities I’ve found in these two activities.
In both jogging and your spiritual life:
- Frequent excuses will get you off track. Get out your “outfit” ahead of time to be as ready as possible!
- Once you conquer those excuses, you enjoy the activity! It’s baffling but true.
- There are countless benefits for physical or spiritual health, some more long-term than others. (I’ll spare you the examples for now)
- A day or two of “missing” won’t kill you, so don’t be legalistic. Don’t go on guilt trips. If you missed, tomorrow will be better!
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Let them go faster, read more… It’s your benefit that matters, and it’s not a competition.
- Don’t feel you’re somehow superior to others because you “do it”. No “holier than thou” imagining, please… (See the above!)
- Discipline isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort!