I mentioned being in the military. I was active duty for several years and have been in the National Guard for a several years since my active duty time. One part of military, active duty or reserves is fitness testing. We have to take the fitness tests a couple times a year that consist of sit ups, push ups and either running, walking or some other event to test aerobic and cardio fitness the Army physical fitness test or APFT because the military loves its acronyms. Well, years ago when I first had to start doing them, I could pass, but didn’t do as well as I would have liked, more on that later. But, I ran a lot, worked out more. Due to other events in life I was doing less working out so the tests were more of a hassle, my scores went down, I still passed, but not as easily and not as well as previously. I started working out more, losing weight, getting back into shape and we had a test at the last drill. Well, funny how it works out, but when one works out and prepares, if they work to get more fit, the fitness tests are much easier, you perform better.
I got to thinking on that, how I had evaluated my physical condition and fitness, realized I needed to get into better shape, so I did. I also thought about how much more important it was for me to evaluate my spiritual fitness. I also thought about how when I exercised in my spiritual life: with prayer, studying the Bible, praising our Lord, I was much more spiritually fit as well and that when I had spiritual fitness tests in life, I performed better, I responded better, to events in my life. Once upon a time, I was much more fit spiritually and things went well spiritually. When difficulties or challenges arouse, I dealt with them better and they were usually less stressful anyway. God looks out for us when we follow Him and are living the life He wants us to live. Well, since I returned to Christ, I am learning to be more spiritually fit. God does not disappoint, when I put the effort into things, the spiritual fitness improved and tests are easier to pass. Oh, just like the physical fitness tests, some events are more difficult at times. But, if one prepares, one passes the test. Praise the Lord for His help improving my spiritual fitness.
I also thought about how our physical condition and strength, if we train to a certain level, that is the level we reach. We do well at that level. Years ago I used to train for the APFT by doing the events. I ran the 2 miles, did the push ups and sit ups for 2 minutes each and such. Well, I would pass, like I mentioned, but would be finished physically by the time I was done, I had reached my limit. One day after the APFT a buddy and I were talking, well he was in better shape than I and didn’t appear exhausted like I was and I commented on that fact. He asked me how I trained for the test, I told him I ran the 2 miles and such. He then said something that really made me think, he said, “You know, if you train for the standards, you meet the standards but that’s all you can do and it is hard to do it because that is the max you can perform. But, if you train for more than that, do more push ups and sit ups, run 3,4 or 5 miles every day, the test is an easy task.” Simple concept, but eye opening. So, I started doing that, actually did at least twice the distance and other things and guess what, HE WAS RIGHT! The next time the APFT came around it was a piece of cake. I did better than I ever had and wasn’t exhausted when I finished. AMAZING!
Now, why does physical fitness have anything to do with my Christian walk? Well, if we spiritually prepare for normal events, normal life, work, home, etc then the more significant challenges one encounters will spiritually drain you. If you study the Bible and pray, seek God, just enough, then you are spiritually prepared for the normal day to day events, but the sudden, unexpected hardships will cause a set back. One needs to train for more than they think will happen, one needs to spiritually be ready for the really tough times. God will be with you either way, He just makes dealing with it even easier if we are ready before hand.
More thinking, if anyone has ever used a personal trainer, they come up with a plan to help you get physically stronger, they give you goals. Once you reach that goal you can stay there, just train to that level and that’s where you are with physical condition. But, if once you reach that goal, they set another goal for you, push you, get you to reach higher levels of physical conditioning and strength. God does that too. Sometimes, just by making one want to pray, study the Bible and seek Christ more, other times, like a physical trainer puts more weights on the machines, God puts more weights on us, sometimes He helps us get stronger by giving us a harder burden. Nothing more than we can endure, but more than we had previously. That isn’t always a punishment, sometimes it is a reward. He knows you have improved your spiritual strength to a point you can endure more, but Christ still wants more from us. He wants us to continue to grow as Christians. He doesn’t want us to get to an okay level and remain there, He was us to excel and, if that means putting more burdens or hardships on us for a while, He will do so. If we respond to those challenges as we should, by seeking Him, praying, looking to the Bible. WE GROW STRONGER as Christians.
Yeah, I think I want to start training above the standards, I am going to work even harder on my spiritual growth, more time in prayer, more time reading the Bible, more time seeking God. If I have challenges, I will be ready for them, if they seem to be too much, I know He will be there to help me get through. He will never leave me or forsake me. He won’t give me hardships I can’t endure and when the time is right, I can give those burdens to Christ. Praise Jesus what a wonderful God we serve.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13
Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
The LORD [is] my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he [is] my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. Exodus 15:2
There is so much more on how God is our strength and salvation, with Christ I can do all things. Such powerful words.
Lord, I praise You for all You are. I thank You the lessons You are teaching me and how You do strengthen me and help me when things get tough. How You have helped me get through difficult times, even when I wasn’t serving You, and how now, You make it so much easier to deal with any adversity. I pray You continue to work on me, work in my heart and help me train more for the future challenges. Help me grow spiritually stronger that I can be the Christian warrior You wish me to be in my life. I ask You to strengthen loved ones in their walks with You and draw those not serving You to Christ that they may know the salvation You have given me.
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Remember, whatever you do, be a blessing to someone.