Exercise Patience

Exercising is something people love, hate or do because they think it will give them a benefit. If you’ve ever tried to get in shape, you know it doesn’t happen overnight. Depending on your fitness level, it can take weeks, months or even years. I’ve made the mistake of overdoing a workout after taking a break and paid the price in sore muscles. I’ve learned to start slowly and build up. I’m riding my bike again and not embarrassed to tell you I have to walk up some of the hills near my home.

Thinking about physical exercise made me think of our spiritual muscles. How I wish the parallel didn’t exist. For some reason, I can be patient with myself when it comes to building up my muscles and fitness level, but I can get frustrated when my spiritual fitness seems to take too long. I want to be more loving, patient, kind, giving and compassionate – now. I’d also like to keep my mouth shut more often. But sometimes I feel I’m taking a step back or treading water. I do sometimes feel like I’m moving forward, but never fast enough.

I’ve been telling myself I’ll get to the point when I can ride up one, then two of the hills I have to walk now – perhaps I should remember the same thing when it comes to spiritual growth and transformation. It takes hard work in the form of practicing the spiritual disciplines (the same as if we were learning a language), focusing on Christ and continual trust in the work of the Holy Spirit to make us more like Jesus. And of course, patience.

The Beauty of a Slower Pace

Like it or not, we’ve all been forced to slow down during the COVID crisis. Those who have been used to a fast pace of life might be having trouble with staying home instead of keeping a frantic, overloaded schedule. For me, since my chicks left the nest and my husband retired, a slower pace of life is the norm. I enjoy being home and living a quiet life.

One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 30:15 in the NLT: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.” Resting and quietness come more easily to us introverts, but perhaps this time of forced rest will be an opportunity for everyone else to practice the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude as well.

Dallas Willard’s book, The Spirit of the Disciplines, is an excellent book explaining not just the disciplines, but the why of them. Jan Johnson, a student and mentee who actively carries on his work and ideas, has published Spiritual Disciplines Companion, Bible Studies and Practices to Transform Your Soul. I only recently acquired the book and naturally chose the section on Silence and Solitude as my starting point.

Our lives will probably go back to at least a semblance of what used to be normal, but for now, let’s take advantage of this time to return to God, rest in him, be quiet and trust, for that is indeed where we find our salvation.