Exercising Faith

May 20, 2008
by Kathleen Ageton

Proverbs 6:9-11 – How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. (KJV)

I once read a tidbit on the Internet about a morbidly obese man who was trying to lose weight. He weighed over 1,000 pounds and was bedridden. He cut down on calories and tried to exercise. Exercise was a challenge; he was so large that he could not even rise up and walk. He exercised by moving his arms and legs in bed. Over time, he lost 400 pounds. Although still obese, he had made significant progress towards his goal. What impressed me was that he did what he could. He didn't give up just because exercise seemed impossible. Even though his progress was slow, he still moved his arms and legs every day.

Challenges in my life can seem overwhelming. They are too big for me, and I have this anchor-like sense of inertia. I just want to lie down and pull the covers up over my head and allow chaos to rule. But then I think about this extremely large man and how he did what he could. To the rest of the world, his form of exercise may seem laughable, considering his size — yet he obtained positive results through perseverance.

Sometimes, it's the little things that overwhelm. I'll come home from work, feed and bathe my son, put him to bed, and then, longing for sleep, I'll turn around to see a mountain of laundry, dishes in the sink, an explosion of toys and books, and generally, stuff all over the floor. I do not want to live in chaos. So I think about this obese man, and I move my body just a little to start in on the tasks at hand. I may not get the results I want, but I've done something and that feels good.

In my spiritual walk, I sometimes feel flabby and lazy. I'm unmotivated. I don't hear amazing insights, the Word is not as interesting as a mystery novel, and the God whom I love seems phantom-like. If only I can move myself enough to pray, "God, help me," it exercises my faith. Reading my Bible when I don't feel like it begins burning off the sloth-like qualities enveloping me. I slowly start to sense the Lord's presence again. He is the ultimate fitness trainer. He lets me know which muscle I need to move next, how He wants to stretch me and make me strong. He encourages me. Even if I slip up and let "junk food" (silly television shows, gossip, envy) into my life, it no longer defines me. I repent and go back to moving my arms and legs.

To others, my feeble efforts may be laughable in the face of daunting challenges. I am not Mother Theresa (whom I consider to be a champion ultra marathoner of Christian love). I am not Amy Carmichael or Gladys Aylward. But I can do little things to serve Him. I can work in the church nursery, phone a sick person, or write a letter.

The Bible is clear that "by grace are ye saved through faith… not of works" (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV) and also that "faith without works is dead". (James 2:20 KJV)

Prayer: Lord, we don't want to have a morbidly obese faith. Please help us to exercise our faith, feeble as it may be. With Your guidance, help, and encouragement, we know the effort will count; it is a beginning. Amen.

About the author:

Kathleen Ageton <katbabc@hotmail.com>
Wailuku, Hawaii, USA

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