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Connect with God by Getting Fit

  • Joy Allmond Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • Updated Sep 29, 2011
Connect with God by Getting Fit

Until earlier this year, I hated exercise. Really hated it. Now, it’s one of the most tangible ways I connect with God.

I was that person who showed up at the gym every now and then to be able say—to myself and others—that I had done my due diligence of taking care of my body. Each time I darkened the doors of the gym, I would try to find the least strenuous activity possible and do it just long enough to break a sweat. I had mastered the art of self-deception in this particular area of my life. 

My flesh fell for the lie that I was “trying.” My spirit knew better. I always knew that God wanted us to be good stewards of our bodies. If I heard that “our 1 Corinthians 6:19” once, I must have heard it hundreds of times. And I didn’t just hear it. I actually believed it. 

So, what was the disconnection between my flesh and my spirit?

In hindsight, I think it was because my spirit knew that I was in an area of disobedience and I did not want to deal with it. And, I knew that every time I exercised, it brought to mind my food issues. For me (and for many of you), they go hand in hand. 

This was an area of my life that I thought I relied on. 

This was an area of my life that I didn’t want to give up. 

This was an area of my life that I didn’t want to be forced to examine. 

Let’s face it: willful disobedience is sin. And sin is usually enjoyable, in the moment. If it were not that way, we wouldn’t get so entangled in it. 

For me, the call to liberation came in a way I didn’t expect.

Driven by Obedience

This summer, God spoke loud and clear to me regarding this particular area of my life. I was sitting among 10,000 other women at a Living Proof (Beth Moore) conference when He singled me out to tell me that it was time to stop delaying getting my body into better condition. 

Beth’s words for the weekend were “hold fast.” We examined what it truly means to do this. I wish I could simply spill my notes before you, but I’ll summarize it for you this way: hold onto to Jesus, and let go of anything else you hold tightly that can replace Him. 

I battled my weight for most of my life. I sensed in my spirit that He was telling me to surrender the battle to Him. 

Before I go any further please hear this: God loves us no matter what. The Bible tells us in Romans 8:39 that nothing can separate us from His love. 

His love is unconditional. And He came so that we could not just live, but John 10:10. He had something better for me.  

Because He loves me, He was telling me to take a step of faith and commit to moving six days a week. And He was also telling me to rely on Him alone as the bread of life that truly satisfies. In fact, early on, He gave me this verse from Psalms 73:26 (NASB) for meditation:

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (emphasis mine).

At the time of this article posting, I have dropped 34 pounds. But the benefits of this journey I am on with the Lord exceed merely having a slimmer body. 

It Teaches Submission

One of the first things I had to learn was how to listen to God. Yes, in the sense of knowing when He was commanding me to do something, but taking action on what I know is His best for me. 

When God started speaking pointedly about this—rather, when I chose to obey—He was pretty specific about what he impressed on my heart to do. For me, it was getting up earlier than I wanted to. Sometimes, it means getting up at 4 a.m. 

Is it painful? Yes. 

Am I ever tempted to press the snooze button on the alarm? You better believe it. 

Would I trade the sweet early-morning communion I have with my Savior for a couple of extra sleep hours?

No, now that I have tasted the blessing of submission. 

It Cultivates Gratitude

What I’m about to tell you is no secret: exercise hurts. Literally. 

When I’m swimming my daily half mile, my upper arms and shoulders often burn. My lungs are often gasping for air. When I’m on the elliptical trainer, my hips and thighs beg for mercy. 

But, there is an upside to this. Exercise gives me the opportunity to thank God that I’m even able to do these things. There are people out there who long to know what it’s like to have their arms or legs burn from physical activity but do not have the ability to engage in it. 

God built our bodies to respond to exercise. Now, when I exercise, a sense of awe wells up inside of me. In Psalms 139:14 we read that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. God made us in His image. Does the way you live—including the way you steward your body—reflect this truth?

Do You Hear Him?

What is God asking you to do in this area? I realize that there are some of you reading this who are already on top of your game and have lived in victory over this area of your life. 

But chances are, there is someone in your life who cannot seem to conquer this area of defeat. The best thing to do for them is to simply pray. From personal experience, I can tell you that only that person is the one who can make up his or her mind that today is the day of obedience and walking victoriously. 

Pray for that person to have such a moment like I had—a moment to respond to the call to victory that has been destined for us from the beginning of time. 

May we decrease—literally—so that He can increase! 

Joy Allmond is a writer for billygraham.org. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband, two step sons and two dogs. In her very little spare time, she can be found concocting her latest culinary masterpiece, watching college basketball or buried in a book. She is working on her Master's degree in Biblical Studies at Southern Evangelical Seminary. Follow Joy on Twitter at twitter.com/joyallmond.

Publication date: September 28, 2011