It was roughly two and a half years ago when I sat down at a Walmart because I wasn’t feeling particularly well. My seat – the automated blood pressure cuff, because I felt like I needed to get a reading. I felt tense, short of breath, and was sweating for no particular reason. My suspicions were confirmed when my blood pressure came up 160-something, over 100-something. Yikes! My wife was pregnant with twins at this point, and as a soon-to-be-dad, the mental, physical, and emotional stress hadn’t even really started. With a history of heart issues running through my family tree, I thought, if my blood pressure is this high now, how am I going to be able to play with my kids? I knew something had to change. I made a few changes to my diet, but mostly, I began to exercise to get rid of extra poundage that was contributing to the toll I was placing on my body.
The super-short version of the story is YAY! My blood pressure is normal, I play with my kids, and I’m down about 50 pounds. Running (a lot) is now part of my weekly routine. But now that I’m where I want to be with my health, I am finding that exercise can simply be exercise. A repeated motion, causing a bit of sweat, but sometimes to no real purpose. If I run 40 laps around the track, I will start and end in the same place. Nothing achieved. I can celebrate the fact that I can snag an extra donut on Teacher Appreciation Day, or score, a McDonalds breakfast (I didn’t say my blood pressure was great, just normal) without the guilt, or eat eight desserts at Thanksgiving (sad, but true), but I’m not really going anywhere. I am in maintenance mode, like those awaiting a second temple here in Zechariah.
“Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? – Zechariah 7:5-6
Now, before I move any further, it needs to be said I am healthier because I run. Spiritual disciplines are not unlike this. These routines are important, and even more, necessary. Prayer, worship, and reading God’s Word should be part of your to-dos every. single. day. BUT what those items shouldn’t be are chores sandwiched between taking the trash out to the curb and picking up the milk. Are you doing these things because you want to draw into a closer relationship with God? OR are you doing these things because you are doing these things. I mean, how did you get here to read this blog today? Is it part of your exercise or your routine? If so, is it because you desire more about your loving God and his calling on your life? Or do you use it as a means to build credit in the God bank so you can have the extra donut, or eighth desserts? It’s tough. Right? Live for a moment outside of the routine. Today, start exercising less and engaging more. Throw out the score card because God already has you beat. Enter into the purpose of what you are doing, seek Him, and draw nearer to His Spirit. Find a way to share His justice, His mercy, and His many compassions because you are compelled to show the love of God, not simply run to the next item on your list.
This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’ – Zechariah 7:9-10