Although I like to exercise, variety in the fitness routines helps me to stay diligent. Walking, Weights, Bicycling and Running are done each week in turn. Running offers the best physical benefits, but in the summer it is the most challenging exercise.
Recently it was the day set aside for a run. It takes planning and preparation to get a run in before work, but this was the day. As I left the driveway, it began to sprinkle raindrops. Knowing it would be easy to turn around and not go, I pushed on. It was also very humid out and the excuses to not do it drummed loudly in my mind. This time could be spent doing something I loved, or just enjoying a free hour. But then the benefits of the run would not happen, so I made the choice to keep moving and to go forward. The run was a struggle, it was hot, humid and I knew I wouldn't make it to the appointed distance. A church sign was ahead and I told myself, just get to the church and you can turn around.
Smiling, that sounded something that has probably entered many people's mind on Sunday mornings. Have you ever thought about going to church but then began to hear excuses like..."It looks rainy, we may as well stay home. There isn't enough time to go to church and also do what needs to get done, besides, this is my only day off. It's hot, uncomfortable, I have to get dressed to get out...." We all have. But just like for my run, a moment will come for the decision to be made to either turn back or move forward. Great benefits are reaped or forfeited through that choice.
In fitness, running is the most difficult exercise in my routine. It stretches me, takes more energy and can be hard. I get sweaty and nasty. But the feeling of accomplishment once that decision was made to continue on is worth it...every time. Running is something that affects my entire body for good. My heart, oxygen and muscles get great benefits. Strength and endurance are tested and increase. These benefits last throughout the day and exhibit themselves through energy and an overall feeling of good health. It is definitely worth the effort!
Beyond the decision to attend church is ultimately the choice of how to walk as a Christian. It is the decision to follow the Lord, to obey His commands, to live a life exhibiting His principles of loving others, sharing, caring. It is living a life that points to Jesus. It looks different from the world and will call for difficult choices. There will be planning, preparation and time set aside to be filled with the Spirit through prayer and reading God's Word. We are called to love God and to love others. There will be obstacles and a choice that must be made, push on or back off. But just like the church sign I was running to, be encouraged to keep moving. It may not be as far as you had planned, but keep going. Push through and keep your eye on the goal - to love God and love others. However hard the struggle was, it will be well worth it!