Getting in Shape

Getting in Shape

I decided that I wanted to get in better physical condition before my next birthday. I enjoy walking in the woods so thought that would be the place to start. My favorite place to walk is at the Wildwood Cross Country Ski Trails. I have explored that area with my father and other family members since I was 12 years old, so it has many warm memories as well as a place for me to enjoy the out of doors.

At my next birthday, my physical self will register 74 years of age. I do however, have a 20-year-old (yo) that co-habits with my aged self. My aged body creaks and groans when I even think about exercise but my 20 yo self is quite convinced that we can still do what we did 50+ years ago.

If one is going to take on a challenge like this, it is necessary to pick a starting date, otherwise the birthday comes and goes and nothing was ever done. I chose Saturday, May First, the year of our Lord, 2021 as the kick-off date. I dutifully drove to the West parking lot to begin my hike. On the way there, my 20 yo self suggested that it was a long way to drive to only bite off a small section of trail. My aged self suggested waiting to see how things went before committing to the 8-mile loop.

We started down the trail. My 20 yo self said, “Let’s run.” My aged self said, “We are.” It all kind of went down hill from there. Not the trail mind you. That was mountainous terrain, all of it uphill. But my two selves were not in agreement as to the plan for the day or how it was progressing.

There are four stages of exercise that most of you will recognize. There are runners, there are joggers, there are walkers…and there are trudgers. I would have to say my exercise style fit neatly into the latter designation.

We arrived at the first intersection, slightly out of breath and sweating profusely (not glowing, not perspiring, we were sweating). This is where the runner (trudger in my case) must choose between the 4-mile loop and the 5-mile loop. The decision had already been made on the way out that we would start with the 4-mile loop and work up. But then, my aged self had a really quality idea—let’s just turn around and go back. And we did—creating of our own accord a 2-mile loop which, as fate would have it, was all uphill as well.

On the way back to town, I decided that I had made one large error in my planning for getting in shape. I waited until May 1 to begin my training regimen…and May 4 is my birthday. I think I should have started days sooner.

It reminds me of the Christian who is blindsided by the trials of life. Jesus told His disciples that “in this world, you WILL have tribulations.” He did not say “maybe” or “possibly”. He said “will”. And the Christians who have less difficulty with those tribulations are those who are grounded in the Word, who wear the armor of God, who know His promises, and who trust He will keep them no matter what.

Some of us however, choose to wait until the tribulations come before we get in spiritual shape. We don’t read the Word, we don’t know His promises, we don’t wear the armor, and our trust muscles are weak. We believe that we will always have time to read the Word and for prayer…tomorrow. And when the tribulations come, we are as out of spiritual shape as my aged self’s physical shape.

There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” The best time to begin exercising our spiritual muscles was 20 years ago, the second-best time is today. You won’t be sorry—neither will I.