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Spiritual Training Cycle: Presence (wk. 4/13)

People start fitness journeys for lots of reasons. Some decide to get in shape for an event, like a 10k. Others start because of their doctor’s advice after a poor health report. People start fitness journeys to lose weight so they can fit back into their skinny jeans for the upcoming high school reunion. But most never keep it going. A study found that 73% of people who set fitness goals gave them up. And nearly half gave up within six weeks or less. What were they missing? In my opinion, I believe the keys to sustaining a fitness journey are motivation, planning, and social support. If you want to succeed, you need structure.

That’s one of the great things about joining a community fitness gym. When you walk in on day one, there’s structure. You’ve got a coach motivating you. There’s a plan not just for the day’s workout, but hopefully for the month and/or the quarter. And you’ve got plenty of social support. There are people to encourage you when the journey gets hard. Structure provides the platform to achieve wholeness and fullness in your physical life.

We need structure in our spiritual lives as well. We need an internal motivation to explore and pursue God. We need to plan a spiritual exercise program, build out some workouts, and put it altogether. And we definitely need social support. Not just for accountability, but also as a place to come with questions and concerns. Structure in our spiritual life allows us to experience more of God’s peace, or shalom.

Shalom means wholeness, fullness, completeness, peace, prosperity, welfare, and tranquility. Shalom is not just the absence of conflict, but something better in its place. Shalom is God’s plan. Shalom is found in Jesus. Shalom is filling. And shalom is found through structure. God’s peace provides the platform to achieve wholeness and fullness in our spiritual life. As we structure our lives around pursuing God and living into His purpose for us, we experience a peace that cannot be found anywhere on this Earth. Shalom is satisfying.

Shalom is satisfying

Think about an area of your life where you need God’s peace right now. Maybe it’s with finances. As the bills pile up and the savings account dwindles, you need the peace that God will see you through. Maybe it’s with your health or your spouse’s health. As the doctors walk through the treatment plan and the reality of what’s ahead sets in, you need the peace that God is with you. Maybe it’s a relationship with a friend, family member, or in-law. Even though you’ve said some mean things to each other, and tensions are high, you need the peace that God can restore your relationship because ultimately that relationship matters to you.

So, when you decide to begin a spiritual fitness journey, or if you’ve already started one, be sure you’ve got some structure in place. Know your why – what’s the motivation for pursuing God? Have a plan – what’s your exercise routine for deep and intimate connection with God? And find a community – who will pray for you and encourage you? Structure is what we need because structure allows us to experience more of God’s peace.

Questions for Reflection:

Of the three components of structure described (motivation, planning, and social support), which one do you find yourself needing right now in your life?

Can you see a relationship between God’s peace and how we structure our lives?

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