GROWING FOR A RUN
Growing up I remember a threat my parents used against me should I fail to act right…If I didn’t get my act together in this class or that one, if I didn’t get the grades my parents knew I was capable of, if I was misbehaving and acting foolish, the threat was usually the same…NO MORE SPORTS.
I love sports. I love playing them. I love watching them. I love watching my son play them. But I always said if there is one thing I could change about sports it would be all the running. If they could figure out a way to play football and basketball without as much running it would make things that much better, in my opinion. Now, maybe the reason I felt this way was because no matter how good of shape I was in, no matter how much training and endurance I had built up, it didn’t take much for me to be winded. It has been said in the field of running that there are sprinters and there are long distance runners, and I have always been the former. Long distance running was never something I was very good at no matter how hard I tried. But I never allowed that to keep me from a love of sports and I appreciated that although I didn’t have the best endurance, playing sports made my endurance better.
So where am I going with all this? Well, my focus for years was always on my physical well-being. I played sports because I loved it, I lifted weights because I enjoyed it, and I ran because I needed it. I knew it would make me physically better and healthier to be active and so I was. There was a man named Jim Fixx who authored the 1977 bestselling book “The Complete Book of Running.” And for fifteen years this man Jim Fixx ran eighty miles a week! I get tired DRIVING eighty miles so let me be the first one to tell you that “you will never see me running no eighty miles.” Improper English I know, but necessary to drive home the point! I’m not doing it, but Jim would. Eighty miles a week, every week, for 780 weeks! That is 62,400 miles run in that time span! With that many miles under his belt, Jim appeared to be in tip-top shape. With all that exercise under his belt, a man in better shape seemed an impossibility. Jim Fixx had such an impact on the sport of running that he is credited with helping to start America’s fitness revolution by not only popularized the sport of running, but also by demonstrating the health benefits of regular jogging. And, at 52 years of age, while running the streets of Hardwick, Vermont, Jim died of a massive heart attack. Apparently, Jim Fixx was genetically predisposed to have heart problems. His father died of a heart attack at age 43, and Jim, himself, had a congenitally enlarged heart, something his late wife said she was certain Jim knew nothing about because he refused to get regular checkups.
Paul wrote to the young evangelist Timothy something which the Lord had recorded and preserved for our learning today, as He has done with the rest of the Scriptures…
“7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
—1 Timothy 4:8
I see the physical benefits and the improved health that comes with physical training. I understand that my body is the only “home” God has provided me to live in, and I should do my best to take care of it. But all this has and must take a backseat to godliness and the spiritual training we need. Training that the Scriptures reveal to us not only benefits us in this life, it also has the great ability to benefit us and prepare us for the life to come. One could be in the best physical shape, one could outrun and out train every other human on the planet, one could run 80 miles a week, for 780 weeks, but of what benefit is that eternally? That is not to say that we should not take care of ourselves physically, because we absolutely should. But just as God places greater emphasis and greater priority on the soul and our spiritual well-being, so should His children.
What if we read 80 chapters of the Bible a week for 15 years? That’s 12 chapters a day, and in a year we would have read through the entire Bible 3 times, and over 45 times during the course of that 15 years. Maybe that is possible for some, but not others. But how much more advanced, how much more knowledgeable, how much stronger and more faithful to the Lord would we be in our walk as Christians if we were just more consistent in all areas of our Christianity? If we said yes to studying our Bible more, if we said no to sin more, if we trained in godliness more, if we lived more for the glory of God’s name, how much better could we be for Him? Should we really be dedicated to the preserving and improving of our physical bodies and our physical well-being more than we are to our Lord, our souls, and our spiritual well-being? I don’t know about you, but my soul could use a lot more jogging around God’s word than my body could use another lap around the track…and although my body could definitely benefit from it, I can get to that later. Right now, my soul has to grow for a run around the Scriptures.