Lighter weight, deeper thoughts
June 22 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Lighter weight, deeper thoughts | Friday, June 22, 2001

Friday, June 22, 2001

Lighter weight, deeper thoughts

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor I was recently asked to prepare a devotion based on why I chose to lose weight and get into shape - at least, a different shape. I agreed, but then realized that I didn't know why. I knew that I wanted to trim down and shape up, and had a clear gut feeling that I needed to, but hadn't given it much more thought.

Since I was preparing for a devotion, the first thing that came to mind was 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and 6:19-20, which speak of our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit. In context, both passages are more concerned with moral purity than with physical fitness, but the principle is the same. We belong to God, and should honor Him with our bodies.

I would like to think that my get-in-shape campaign was motivated purely by pious devotion to God and a desire to renovate the temple I inhabit, but I can't really claim that as my primary goal.

Was it just vanity? Could it be that I wanted to trim down so I could pose in front of the mirror and count my abdominal muscles?

I suspect vanity does play a role. I do in fact like the way I look at 190 a whole lot better than the way I looked at 225, though I've been less thrilled with having to buy new clothes.

Better physical fitness promotes stronger self-esteem, and I suppose most of us could use more of that. When I look down, I don't have to lean over to see my feet. If some bad guys were to start chasing me, I know I could probably run farther than them. When I step on the scales, I no longer beat myself up for being out of control in the buffet line.

When I eat appropriate amounts of food instead of packing in every left over scrap on the table, I feel better and my digestive system works better.

When I get a decent amount of exercise and work up a good sweat four or five times a week, I have more energy and stamina.

All of which adds up to, I like myself better, and I feel better when I gain some measure of mastery over my appetite and fitness level. That's a pretty strong motivation.

But, there is another reason that goes deeper yet, if I am honest, and it is this: I don't want to die. Not yet, anyway. No sooner than necessary.

It is customary for folks near my age to take a hard look at our mortality. Things are happening to our bodies that we know are directly related to age. We see and feel the changes, and know we will never be the same again.

There are a lot of things about aging that we can't change, but there are areas in which we can make a difference. Decisions we make now will have consequences later.

I can't change the number of years my heart has been beating, but I can make it stronger and do something about keeping its arteries clear.

I can't change the number of miles my feet have walked, but I can reduce the number of pounds they must carry.

I can't change my body's age, but I can lower its risk factors for disease.

Seven years ago, I woke up after a grinding crash. My daughter Bethany did not, teaching me clearly that there are no guarantees about how long we will live. I could get fit enough to run a marathon and get run over on the way home.

But, as I have learned to be thankful for every day of life, I am also determined to make the most of those days. I want them to be active days, fruitful days. I want to retire from getting paid one day, but not from being useful. I hope to gain some wisdom, and have strength enough to pass it on.

A reader friend recently reminded me of a motto we learned in Vacation Bible School or some other church program many years ago, one that stuck with me: "I will do my best with what I have for Jesus' sake today."

I can't do my best for Jesus' sake today or any of the tomorrows that lie ahead if I am not physically as well as spiritually fit.

Which brings us back to that idea of taking good care of the temple that God has given to each of us.

Maybe I'm more pious than I thought.

Maybe you are, too.

I hope so.

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6/22/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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