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Core Work

Spiritual Training Cycle: Surrender (week 6/13)

In humans, the origin of physical strength is our core. Some people toss around the word “core” like it’s an accessory movement you do at the end of a workout. But spend enough time training and you’ll realize the core of the human body is essential to every functional movement we perform. The core is the foundation upon which all movement will be built.

And while I don’t think it’s necessary to exhaustively list every muscle that makes up the core, let me say that I’m not just talking about abs. Think of the core as the torso. It’s the essential base of the body. Your limbs, your neck, your head, and the rest of your body is an extension of your core. Which is why it’s vital that our core be strong. To build core strength, you need to do core work.

In spiritual fitness, fasting is a remarkable exercise for core work. What is our spiritual core composed of? Desires. You desires generate the images you visualize in your life. They spark the goals you set for yourself. And they essentially drive the output of your life. Even though people know you outwardly by what you say and do, the truth is they don’t know you at all. Because all those behaviors are being driven by your core desires, and only you and God truly know what those are. But honestly, we’re pretty lousy at determining our own desires sometimes. That’s where fasting comes in. When we remove something from our life in order to know and love God better, it tells us more about why we crave that thing or eat that thing or think those thoughts. Fasting reveals our deeper desires.

Spiritual core work is essential for a spiritually healthy life.

In 2013, I opened a CrossFit gym. As a lifelong athlete, I was drawn to CrossFit by the variety of exercise as well as the communal aspect of the training. I wanted others to experience what I was experiencing and starting a gym seemed a great way to do that. But the truth is my pursuit of fitness was more about self-admiration than anything else. I wanted to build a community of people who admired me as an athlete, coach, and business owner. I also desired to project a false sense of reality to the world about who I really was. I hid my brokenness behind my fitness.

That same year, I also began to activate my faith in God and start my spiritual fitness journey. Amid that, I felt God calling me to give my gym away. Not to bankrupt me or maroon me on an island, but to trust Him more deeply. After many false starts, I finally made the decision to give my portion of the gym to my business partner. In hindsight, this was the beginning of perhaps the largest fast I’ve ever done. It was only then that God began to reveal what was really going on. He showed me why I built that community and how I used fitness as a security blanket. He also began to rewire my desire. Fast forward to today, and fitness is no longer something I hide behind. Instead, it’s the biproduct of my pursuit of God. I don’t work out to hide who I am, I do it to honor God with my body. Fasting creates space for God to rewire your desire.

So, here’s my question to you – Do you really know why you do the things you do? When you inhale a sleeve of girl scout cookies or sprain your finger from scrolling social media or get sucked into the gossip circle, do you know why you do it? Fasting and prayer will help you find your why. Until you know your why, your behaviors won’t really change. You might have 21 days of self-control, but eventually that thin mint will come calling. Make this the year you incorporate fasting into your spiritual training and watch God rewire your desire.

Questions for Reflection:

Has denying yourself something ever revealed a deeper desire about why you engaged in that behavior to begin with?

Which temptation Jesus faced most resonates with you?

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