For those of you that have been following my blog you have seen me periodically post comments about my weight loss journey. This past month I have received several reminders as to what this journey needs to be. Not only did these reminders challenge me physically, but they challenged me spiritually.
My first reminder. My trainer felt the need to give me a reminder as to why I lost all of this weight in the 1st place. As they do on the Biggest Loser, she wanted me to carry extra weight as I did my training session. Most of what she asked me to do with this extra weight was not difficult hardcore exercise. For instance, she had me run around the block while carry 50 extra lbs. She also had me briskly walk up and down the stairs carry that same 50 lbs. In fact, I think the hardest thing she had me do while carrying this extra weight was simply sprinting up a small incline for about 50 yards while carrying just 45 lbs. Simple enough. And yet, I thought I was going to die. After doing these very simple exercises the first thing to pop into my head was how did I run a ½ marathon like this? I had lost more than 60lbs since the morning of the ½ marathon I ran back in June and these 50 more pounds made it nearly impossible for me to breathe. Furthermore, that night my knees ached from carrying that extra weight. I got her message loud and clear. There is no way I want to go back to that life. There is no way I want to carry around the extra weight for the rest of my life. Spiritually, it caused me to do some reflection as well. The reason I got to where I was, was due to the sin of gluttony. I failed to exercise self control when it came to food. It reminded me of the damage my sins did to my body and more importantly to my soul. I realized that my suffering was minor compared to what Jesus went through to pay for my overeating. And it brought me to tears when I began to realize that Jesus died on that awful tree because I liked to eat too much. Every cookie, every pizza, every soda pop was nothing more than another nail driven into the hand of my Lord and Savior. Talk about a major gut check. He deserves better of me. He didn’t die so that I could plow through a large pizza on my own. He didn’t die so that I could literally eat all I could eat at a buffet. He died to free me from the prison I was building for myself. And praise God my eyes were finally opened.
My second reminder. I really haven’t run much since I ran my ½ marathon. Or at least, I haven’t run a lot of long distances. Most of my runs have been of the 5K variety. I have been working an increasing my speed in hopes of shattering my personal records on these shorter runs. I also wasn’t really keen on trying to go five or more miles again anytime soon. However, I began running with a group of friends that have been training for a half marathon in October on Sunday afternoons. This forced me to run longer routes than my body was used to. It started off with five mile runs and then six and then they desired to up the ante a little bit and head for 8 mile runs or more as they get down to the last month of training. So, last night I ran 8.25 miles. I was hoping to run it with a friend. But, due to my busy schedule yesterday, I ended up running it alone. I wanted to test myself. When I was training for the ½ marathon I was happy to hit close to a 12 minute mile. Yesterday, I wanted to prove that I could do better. So, I set out to run a pace of 10 miles per hour. While I didn’t keep the pace I had hoped for I was still much quicker at a 10.5 minute mile. This test was nothing more than a proof to myself that I had improved. It was a proof to myself that after 18 months of hard work I am not the same man I was when I started this journey. When I finished the only thing I earned was a nice hot shower and a ½ a peanut butter sandwich for protein. And then last night as I recovered from the best 8.25 miles I have ever run, my thoughts again returned to the Lord. Paul wrote in II Cor. 13:5 “Test yourselves, whether you are in the faith, prove your own selves.” The test is not about receiving some great reward for passing. I cannot now, nor will I ever earn my salvation. I am saved because of the grace of God (Rom. 6:23). But, I need to know that Jesus is indeed in me. This is what the latter half of II Cor. 13:5 says. “Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” The test is not about earning my salvation. The test is about determining whether or not Christ is in me and I in him. Yes, Christ died because we were weak, but he didn’t die so that we would remain weak. He died so that we could be pure, holy, and strong in him. The word test is the same word used by the Greeks to determine the quality of a medal, like gold. Once tested, you know its worth and whether or not it is genuine. That is what we must do. We are not to be worried about whether or not person A is genuine or person B is a hypocrite. Just as I needed to know if I could run faster, I need to know if I am a pure, holy person. I test myself. And just as I needed to test my body physically more regularly, I need to test myself spiritually regularly. If I see an impurity, a weakness, it is my job to get it out, to repent and be better so that Jesus didn’t die in vain for me.