I finally admitted that my bad knee is starting to interfere with my life. I can no longer just ignore the fact that it doesn’t straighten or bend as it should. I find myself perking up when commercials for pain relievers play on TV. So I decided to be proactive and spend some time with a physical therapist. Her solution is for me to do all sorts of exercises that strengthen the muscles from my ankle to my hip. When they are strong, they’ll make up for what the knee isn’t able to do. Now I practice a daily regimen of strengthening exercises. Realizing how much better I function motivates me to keep these exercises a part of my fitness plan.
I’ve also been encouraged to take a serious look at a different set of strengthening exercises---spiritual disciplines. Some call habits such as prayer, fasting, scripture memory, simplicity and solitude and silence “weight lifting for the soul.” They can be used to build up the strength of my soul in order to become more like Jesus and live out of spiritual health. Making these a part of my spiritual fitness plan helps to correct the areas in my life where I am spiritually weak. Maybe this is what Paul was referring to when he told Timothy to “train yourself to be godly.” (I Tim. 4:7)
Spiritual disciplines can become a part of a small group’s fitness plan as well. Consider how your group can experience them together. As a group, agree on one discipline to practice between group meetings. When you get together, hold one another accountable with questions such as:
- How did the practice of this spiritual discipline go for you?
- What difference has practicing this discipline made in your life?
- How has God shown himself to you as a result of practicing this habit?
- What further steps will you take to develop this habit?
- What further steps will you take as a result of what God has taught you?
The exercises I do for my knee don’t necessarily feel good and they take a chunk of time out of my day. I suspect that I’ll find the same to be true as I become more serious about practicing spiritual habits. But if I want to serve others like Jesus did, I need to do it out of the strength only He can give. My “weight lifting for the soul” training plan will enable me to experience more and more of that strength. I think I’ll be more consistent with my small group cheering me on.