A couple months ago I wrote about eating as a spiritual discipline. I'm following that up now with exercise as a spiritual discipline, as it has taught me some important lessons in my faith journey.
There are many times I wake up tired, a little stiff or sore, and unmotivated. My first thoughts turn to reorganizing my weekly exercise routine to accommodate today's laziness. One week, I even succeeded at following through with these revised plans. I hated the outcome.
No matter how I feel, exercise is important for my body and my mind because it is the action behind the commitment I made to be healthy. I've found my relationship with God to be similar. I made a commitment to follow Him in obedience to Christ, but some days I don't feel like reading my Bible or spending time in prayer for whatever reasons (excuses). However, when I make the decision to stick to my commitment and follow through with the spiritual discipline, God is my great reward. He exalts me, encourages and strengthens me, and redirects my misguided focus back to Himself. In turn, I am made humble and grateful, able to praise Him joyfully!
Having endured through some difficult times, I've also come to experience a new perspective - one that is invaluably priceless. As I'm struggling, I can remember the times God saw me through and blessed me. I can remember the regret of my own failures and the joy of God's successes, and gain the correct perspective to continue on. I am not left to my own internal cognitive battles but have God's faithfulness as my strength.
Ultimately, God proves to me that despite my feelings, failures, and shortcomings, He is worthy to be praised. While it can sometimes be difficult to exercise when I don't want to, praising Him even in those times increases my joy and His glory. It's a beautiful cycle of blessing that we share together; one that surpasses any of my desires and hopes.
God desires a humble heart (Matthew 11:29) that is directed and committed to Him (1 John 2). Through my exercise routine, I have been encouraged and inspired in my spiritual life and relationship with God to continue - both literally and figuratively - running the race marked out for me (Hebrews 12:1).