That Spiritual Workout

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For the past 12 days, I haven’t felt my best. I came down with a nasty cold that’s been hanging on for dear life, and it’s about to annoy the heck out of me. It seems no amount of meds, Emergen-C, soup, honey lemon tea or even sleep can knock this thing out.

That also means I haven’t exercised in almost two weeks, and until today started worrying that my muscles would atrophy.

But this morning I decided it’s time. Though still a bit stuffy, I laced up my shoes to go for a run.

Now I haven’t actually been running in a month, so I figured it would be a small challenge. And it was.

By the time I ran around the block with both dogs—a mile and a half each—I was beat. That last quarter of a mile couldn’t come soon enough. (I doubt the chocolate cake I had last night helped my endurance.)

Still, as I collapsed on the living room floor a few minutes later to stretch, I was proud of myself for reaching my goal—3 miles, no more, no less.

Here’s the thing: When I don’t exercise for a while, I start to feel blah. Tired, mushy and blah.

And the same could be said for my Bible-reading habits.

Twice—in 2007 and 2012—I read through the Bible in a year. Each time, I found a different reading plan that took me through a certain number of chapters every day. Some days were harder than others—those Old Testament laws were a struggle—but by the end of it, I noticed a difference.

And really, it didn’t take an entire year to see that difference.

When I spend even a few days in a row reading my Bible, I find my life more balanced, and I’m more at peace. Not that I don’t still feel rushed sometimes or that things don’t still get on my nerves, but there’s definitely a marked, gradual difference.

So why is it so hard for me to stay on track?

I’ll do great for a while, then miss a couple days and those couple days turn into a couple months. Once I stop making it a habit, it’s hard to find my rhythm again.

Here are my top excuses for not reading my Bible:

  • I’m tired.
  • I can’t focus right now.
  • I still have so much to do.
  • I’ve been reading and writing all day. The last thing I want to do is sit down with a book, of any kind.

When I set out on my run this morning, I hadn’t eaten in 14 1/2 hours. I was low on fuel, and I felt it a mile in. I felt myself slowing down, and my breathing got out of sync.

That’s what it’s like when I stop reading “the Word.” Sometimes it’s called “spiritual food,” and I think that’s a good term for it. It keeps us going and helps us focus. It’s also the best source of direction I’ve found.

I once taught a Sunday school class about reading the Bible and used an iPhone charger as an example. Everyone in the class had an iPhone, so I held up the charger and asked what happens when they don’t plug their phones in.

The phone dies. It loses power and eventually turns itself off.

That’s what happens when we’re disconnected from our greatest source of power, I told them. God isn’t just our Creator, He’s our Sustainer, and He speaks to us through the Bible. It’s not just some book on a shelf; it’s “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12), the very power of God.

And for me, when I leave it untouched until Sunday morning, I feel my life getting a bit out of whack. My priorities get jumbled, I get stressed easier and I’m less likely to “act Christian” in difficult situations.

So, starting today, I’m renewing my effort to read the Bible each day—a spiritual workout of sorts. I know I’ll miss some days, but I also know I need to try harder.

He is God after all. I should probably see what He has to say.

This summer, our team at work put together some ways to dive into your relationship with God, including tips for reading the Bible. Maybe you’ll find them helpful, too.

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