Spring is near! This Saturday, the vernal equinox will mark the end of winter and beginning of spring. I was stoked last week to see a robin and now anxiously await budding daffodils.
Warmer weather also provides more opportunities to get outside and be more active. Gentlemen, what this means is it’s time to shed our “winter coats”—that ugly flab some refer to as their “COVID-15” or the extra 15 pounds they’ve gained since our world was turned upside down.
If you search online, you’ll find a million-and-one ways to get into shape. Most regimens emphasize the basics like exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and getting proper rest. One of my favorite ideas is the “24 Exercise Plan.” You need an iPad, season one of the TV show “24,” and the discipline to only watch 24 while you’re on a bike at the gym.
However, I’m not a physical trainer, so my goal is simply to encourage you to find a plan that works for you and commit to it. Commitment is the hard part because it challenges us on a heart level. The Bible describes the heart as the seat of our desires from which our behaviors (thoughts, commitments, emotions) flow. In other words, your commitments are an outward indication of what you truly desire—or worship—inwardly. Solomon said it this way: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
The following verses from Psalm 16 address this root issue of the heart. Read it carefully and then I’ll make a few brief comments.
“I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.” (Psalm 16:7-9)
The commitment to make life-changing choices requires three things:
1. God’s Counsel.
It may sound like a broken record, but there is no substitute for spending time daily in God’s Word. There’s no other way to receive His counsel, and he is a “wonderful counselor!” So, before you plan to get up earlier to work out, it’s more important to rise earlier to meet with God. Spiritual transformation comes by renewing your mind with God’s truth. Such transformation begins to affect the way you think, and your heart will “instruct you in the night seasons.”
2. God’s Presence
The way David said this was, “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand.” He lived with the constant awareness of God’s presence. Not only do we have access to God’s counsel, we also have the assurance that he is always with us. Acknowledging the Lord’s presence will help you bring your body into submission and avoid making the wrong choices.
3. God’s Power
Because the Lord was at David’s right hand, he was confident he would not be moved. That means he was trusting in God’s strength and not his own. The right hand refers to power and David’s power was in the Lord. Your ability to overcome the weakness of the flesh requires depending completely on God. One of my college professors used to say, “self-confidence is always misplaced.”
I know it doesn’t sound like a plan for improving your health and getting in shape, but it is a plan for getting your heart in the right place to make whatever plan work. Receiving God’s counsel, acknowledging his presence, and trusting in his power leads to what David called, “resting in hope.” Hope in the Bible refers to a confident assurance of future blessing. This Spring discover the joy and blessing of honoring God in your body.