9/12/18 – Pastor Brian’s Blog –
As some of you may know, I received a stent back in March because I had 95% blockage in one of my arteries. In June, things didn’t seem right, so I had another catherization which brought with it 17 weeks of Cardio Physical Therapy. Well this week ends 17 weeks of leaving home at 7 AM, returning at 10:30 AM, 3 days a week, working out on 3 different machines, sitting through informational and “healthy choice” classes, listening to 3 different therapists instructing me “in the way that I should go.”
As I was working out on one of my 3 stations last Monday, my thoughts were, “What is going to happen next?” I have disciplined myself to take these 10½ hours a week out of my schedule so that I can improve my physical well-being. Now the question is: will I be disciplined enough to continue doing physical exercise now that I am on my own? Am I committed enough to make the sacrifices, to make the right priorities, to continue to do these things, so that I will not only maintain but continue to improve my physical strength?
To be totally transparent this morning… I love the results of working out, but I am not real keen on the discipline that it takes to get these good results. Yet, if I am not willing to put the excuses aside, if I am not willing to avoid the shortcuts, if I am not willing to chose the best over the good, if I am not committed to work my diet, then chances are, not only will I not maintain my physical health… I will digress. Oh, it will not happen all at once! But, over time, if I am unwilling to be disciplined in the most basic areas of my health, I will reap the consequences of those choices.
It is no different in my spiritual life. Jesus is looking for disciples – those who are willing to discipline their whole body, soul, and spirit, to forsake the good and chose the best. For me (and I would guess it could be true for many of you that are reading this blog), I do not usually struggle between good and evil… my biggest struggle is between good and best. You will not read about me walking the streets of Barnstead in a drunken stupor, or involved in road rage, or being hauled off to jail because Judy was beaten up because she made the wrong thing for dinner.
No, for me, my struggle is choosing between good and best. Can I be totally transparent again? What I have been struggling with recently is doing my personal quiet time. Remember, my struggle is between good and best. I mean, I am blocking out 10+ hours a week for my physical health, and that is good. I am spending time preparing messages, and that is good. I am involved in counseling, and that is good. I am showing up for church activities, I am visiting people in the hospital, I am the chaplain for our town fire department and police department, and all that is good. This week I am helping our local Crimeline with their golf tournament to raise money and the following week I am going into a prison for a day to teach at a marriage retreat. So apparently my problem is not doing good! My struggle is doing good at the expense of doing what is best.
My struggle is that I have filled my life with so much good that I have sacrificed the best: my alone time with God. That precious time when I shut everything out and listen to Him and talk to Him. The problem is that when I do that, I am making myself vulnerable in other areas of my spiritual life. Now I have no plans to become a mass murderer, but not checking in with God to start my day can dull my sensitivity to Him. It can weaken my spirit to the point I am slow to respond. I could even resist or misread God’s leading in my life.
In order to do 17 weeks of physical therapy I had to beat myself up. I had to control my choices. I had to make myself get out of bed early, even though my body wanted to stay for a few more minutes. I had to put it on my calendar before other things took its place. I had to postpone other things so I would not miss this important thing.
As I was working out last Monday, God reminded me that I am not that unusual! Even Paul struggled with making right choices… Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27
So go ahead and beat yourself up. Now I don’t mean emotionally, so you become discouraged and give up. I mean beat yourself up to stop making excuses for whatever area you are ignoring or that area you are weak in. Take control of your body, of your calendar, of your time, because the more you and I give in to God, the more we will find ourselves wanting God, the easier it will be choosing the best over the good, the more we will be interested in the eternal over the temporal.
For 17 weeks I made myself work on my physical health, which at best might give me another 20-25 years. If I can do that for something temporal, surely I can make myself do that for something that will last forever.
For me, I need to increase my quiet time, my alone time with God. For you, it might be something totally different. So go ahead, beat yourself up, work on your spiritual health, put yourself under the control of the Holy Spirit so you “will not be disqualified for the prize.”