Christmas is a good time to get in shapePublished 5:16am Friday, December 7, 2012
By Rev. JAMES SCARBOROUGH
Donalsonville Assembly of God
Thanksgiving Day was filled with lots of good things for us, but there was one little event that we had not expected that day-our washing machine broke down. Since it was nearly nine years old and had probably washed more loads than the average I chose to buy a new one and not even bother with trying to repair the old one, so Gale and I shopped on line, found one we liked and placed our order.
After I removed the old machine and cleaned up some areas in our laundry room that had not seen daylight for far too long, I decided it would be a good time to put new floor covering down. I like to do as much of my own repairs and maintenance at home as possible, so I purchased some material that I was confident that I could install myself. I worked hard and was fairly pleased with the finished product.
I knew I would have sore muscles from all the crawling around on the floor as I laid the new flooring, but I am not sure that I was prepared for the intensity of what I experienced over the next three days as I recovered; every time I got up or down I was vividly reminded of the existence of leg muscles that I had not given previous thought to, and as I climbed the bleachers at the football game those sore muscles really grabbed my attention.
After a few days, the soreness and pain subsided, but a realization lingered: I am out of shape and my muscles need to be used more intensely. (Earlier on the day of this writing, I transplanted several hundred sweet onion plants in my garden; I might be revisiting some of the soreness and pain that I experienced before!)
Just as inadequate physical exercise results in limitation and pain, when we get lax in our spiritual behavior we get out of shape spiritually and become unable to achieve the full potential that God wants us to reach. Reversing this condition requires our choosing to do what we know we should do and not always what we want to do; it means having a greater desire for what can be than merely enjoying the ease of the moment. Concerning avoiding sinful practices and living the holy life, author Charles R. Swindoll says, “Purity is a conscious choice; it doesn’t just happen.” Indeed, staying in good spiritual shape requires us to make some rather tough choices at times; we have to make the conscious choice to strive to become more like our Lord and more pleasing to Him by submitting to Him and cooperating with Him, becoming increasingly spiritually strong, mature and useful to Him.
As the Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote in anticipation of the birth of Christ several hundred years beforehand, he penned these words: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2, New International Version). Before Christ came and gave Himself sacrificially for our sins, humankind was in bad spiritual shape, but through Him came hope that was possible in no other way. As we prepare to once again celebrate His birth, let us also make it our goal to put our faith into greater practice and become stronger and more fit to serve Him than we have been in the past.