While in the final session of the Catalyst West 2018 Conference, Erwin McManus provoked the following personal reflections of ‘Perseverance, Strength & Love’ like our fitness trinity of ‘Cardio, Strength & Stretch.’ I’ve been reflecting on how this ties together for me personally, physically and through scripture (mind/body/spirit).
Perseverance – Cardio
The best way for me to push through challenges that require endurance is to breathe deeply. When we focus on exhalation through a full cleansing breath, the inhale will naturally come. Sometimes, instead of acknowledging the physical demands of the workout, the day, the stressful situation I may be in, I exhale. The breath helps me to persevere. Interestingly, science tells us that our built-in stress reliever is taking deep breaths. Breathing deeply is proven to affect our heart, brain, digestion, immune system and our adrenal glands by releasing cortisol. Whether the deep breath is needed to energize us, or calm us, the deep full breath helps us persevere.
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Trust – Strength
When developing spiritual strength and ‘trust muscles’, I know I will be met w resistance. In the world of fitness, we’re advised to take our weekly doses of resistance training 2 -3 times per week. Marketing and education have led to the rise of strength training, which, as we know, may not feel good in the moment, but it is indeed good for our body. That’s why I chose to focus on trust rather than strength. Our strength comes from the Lord. We must train ourselves to put our trust in His ways. I’ve tried doing this life out of my own strength and I ended up exhausted from sleepless nights with a body full of shingles. For me, trust training is much harder than strength training.
In the dictionary, the definition of trust is “to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you; or that something is safe and reliable”. The definition of believe is “to think that something is true, correct or real.” So technically it means we believe without seeing.
For the past 5 years my spiritual goal has been to learn how to trust God with everything. My error before this marker of time was trusting in the wrong things including myself, my husband, my family, my pastor, my friends & the company I worked for. What a responsibility I allowed each of these, in their own unique way, to have all my trust. When my apple cart was turned, and I lost my job, each of these were deeply affected. I had no idea whom I could turn to, so I began to either plop down in child’s pose or take a long outdoor run, during which I would pray. I prayed for God to reveal to me that I could trust Him with my everything. Each time I studied His word, He would reveal the ways in which I could trust in Him.
A more recent example of the necessity of place trust in the Lord has been apparent with my oldest daughter, Ivy. She has applied to and been accepted to several colleges, but insisted that she wanted to attend a gap year program. After looking at many programs, she applied and was accepted to the Kanakuk Link Year, which is a 9-month program where she will study God’s word, the talents He has placed in her and who He has created her to be. After leaving the Link year orientation visit a few weeks ago, I shared my thoughts with Bryan. If I were to look at this situation from earthly, surface-level eyes, the most logical choice is to send her to college, but if I look at it through my new eyes and heart that trusts the Lord, this Link year will prepare her for all she is to be, a fully devoted follower of Christ. How could I not trust God with her? Logic says she should follow the traditional steps of transitioning from high school to college, but trusting in the Lord says to trust Him with her.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord your God with all your heart, lead not on my own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Love – Stretch
Let’s be real. It is not always easy to love each other. There are hormones, drastic shifts in the weather, there’s family drama, entitled teens and the self-absorbed just to start. In some moments it is harder to love, and most assuredly to be loved. But we know, every day we should love one another. Isn’t it neat to know that the recommendation for flexibility training is that we should stretch our body every day? Science explains that we need flexibility so that our joints can have a good range of motion for the basic demands of living. Did you know that some people are so physically tight or frozen that they have joint pain and chronic sore muscles all the time? The heart (which is a muscle) if not stretched daily by extending love to others can also become frozen. I think taking a moment to reflect on God’s love for us, through His son Jesus, is the best example of love. Do you know you are loved?
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This scripture reminds me to stretch my muscles of hope and love daily. To outwardly be an extension cord of God’s love to those around me.
To close, I love that Erwin said, “The battle we’re in isn’t for us-but it’s to demonstrate His realness in me.” This sentence is what encouraged me to put my thoughts in writing. My heart is hopeful to share how unique and beautifully created we each are. My heart is hopeful to encourage you to seek balance physically through cardio, strength and stretch, but more importantly, through perseverance, trust and love.
You are loved,