Thursday, August 19, 2010

Golden Silence

Yesterday I finally had a chance to work out. It'd been a few days and I was missing it. As I've said a number of times, It's part of how I recharge and how I refocus. And I hadn't lifted in about a week and I was feeling it. So, finally, work done, house empty save for me and my bench. I went to the basement with my iPod, portable speakers, water bottle and a whole lot of lifting to do.

As I started lifting, my portable speakers stopped. I had a choice: stop the rhythm I had gotten into and get my headphones or exercise in silence. I opted for silence. I noticed something, Time stopped. It was just me. Nothing else. Just me. I'm not used to that. I'm used to noise--weights dropping, people talking, music blasting. But now, nothing.

I took that a step forward later that evening. I stopped. I remained quiet. The words "Be still and know that I am God." started flowing through my mind.

In our spiritual walk, we need times of just silence. I'm not talking about emptying out yourself. We need time to just stop, listen, think. Allow time to stop and just exist in the presence of God. Focus on him. Listen to him.

I gotta do both again.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Spiritual Exercises

For the longest time, I'd go hit the gym and then come back and maybe read a little bit of the Bible, maybe a short devotional and maybe even pray. Maybe. I wanted to make sure I hit the gym before I did anything else. Recently, I've changed that. I've been instead, taking time in the morning to exercise spiritually before exercising physically. It is a different experience.

I've learned that in weight lifting, and in any and all exercise routines you have, you get out of it what you put into it. You cannot gain muscle mass without working out. You can't get better at running if you do not keep it up. And you can struggle spiritually if you do not constantly come to God in prayer.

Now, when it comes to constantly being in prayer, I'm not saying that this means all will be okay, that all your problems will be fixed. I'm saying is how you deal with things will be different. A lot different. How you deal with setbacks, how you deal with joys, how you deal with God will be different. But you get out of it what you put into it. If you just give a quick short prayer and that's it, then you're not getting out much. If you just do a long prayer once a week, you're not getting out much.

Try this, work on your spiritual muscles and health the same way you might work on your physical health. Set aside time and come to God in prayer. Start out slowly as you would in weight lifting or running. Then progress further. You can do short times of prayer mixed in with longer times in prayer. Short times trying to understand God through reading the Bible, and long times. But start small and work your way up. And if you've been away from it for an extended amount of time, don't start off where you were last time, go back to the basics and move forward from there again.

I truly think that our spiritual health is just as important as our physical and emotional health. All three need to be worked on, maintained and continued to move forward.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Be Still

I do one of four things when I get anxious or nervous. I lift weights, I hit the punching bag, I go for a walk or I munch on junk food. Since May 25, I have been anxious. I interviewed for a position as pastor for two churches in Corsica, SD. An amazing place. But I became anxious. What if they didn't like me? What if I did something to blow the interview? What if? What if? What if? And so I hit the gym, I lifted weights. I hit the bag and worked on my "boxing" skills. I went for walks and contemplated what God might have in store. But I also ate. Too much. I was able to compensate with my exercise but after a while I realized I was just making excuses for myself. And then my bag and weight bench were packed and moved...and I munched.

On June 27, I was offered the position. On July 3, I accepted. I wish I could say that my anxiety calmed. It didn't. I think it got worse. I wish there was a way to say that I found the perfect answer to calm my anxiety. I don't. Not in the least. But I have learned something.

Since we've arrived here in town, I've been praying a lot more. A lot lot more. And one line from Psalm 46 has been going through my head "Be still and know that I am God, I will be honored amongst the nations." I still have my anxiety, but I also need to stay still. Be still, listen to God's voice, his caring touch on the shoulder, leading and guiding.

There is something bigger than myself out there. And he is in charge. Be still, I hear him tell me, and I will take care of it. Be still, and understand that there are bigger things.

Health is so important to me both physical and spiritual. I've learned over the last few years that my physical health is tied into my spiritual health and vice versa. And so, I must be still. Come to my Father in prayer and listen to him, not just gab but truly, completely, listen and be still.