Exercise as abiding

Abiding (maybe not always extravagantly) has been part of my life long before I/we referred to it as “abiding.” But it wasn’t until editing the dissertation on abiding for my brother-in-law that it became part of my missions worldview. Now my abiding time is a non-negotiable. Spending extravagant time with Jesus is essential to not only being a productive worker, but to being a fruitful follower of Jesus and an authentic daughter of the King.

In January team members are encouraged to look at their abiding. My newest discovery about my abiding time is that exercise is a key to healthy abiding for me.

I’m a runner, and like most runners, I prefer to run outside. But travel and cold weather force me to use a treadmill. The beauty of the treadmill, though, is I don’t have to worry about directions, distance, speed or traffic. I can run and let my mind wander in safety. So these past two weeks after finishing my fixed abiding time, I’ve gone to the fitness center, turned on my Exercise/Abiding playlist on Spotify, pushed ‘Start’ on the machine and started running.

Each time I told God that my eyes and ears were open to Him. And He has taken full advantage.

In John 15, Jesus says, “I no longer call you servants but friends because you know what I am doing.” When we spend extravagant time with Jesus, we know what He is doing and He gives us strategy. The result of my renewed, disciplined effort in abiding ending on the treadmill is a flood of strategy, ideas, content and visions of conversations. God has dropped idea after idea into my head/heart. He has shown me visions of meetings with partners. He has given me writing ideas. He has taken what I read/heard in my fixed block of time and shown me how it relates to my strategy for reaching Dubai (like, physically reaching Dubai and spiritually reaching it).

My exercise time is now the time where God connects the dots of my abiding.

Exercise releases endorphins that energize the exerciser. It’s science. But I’ve experienced the additional side effect of a full heart and excited spirit. In Live Dead The Journey, Dick says, “Abiding is active in the reality that the spiritual disciplines position us to receive the life of Jesus…. Discipline leads to desire, which matures to delight.” And I found myself saying that last sentence as I walked to the gym this week. I thought, “I cannot wait to get on the treadmill so I can see and hear what God says. Huh. Discipline does lead to desire, which matures to delight.” I have never, ever in my life enjoyed getting on the treadmill as much as I do now.

My experience with abiding and exercise the past two weeks has changed me. As my friend Terry Parkman would say, “It’s next level.” Abiding brings strategy, and with all that lies ahead of me, I need His strategy.

I think I’ll start hashtagging things #treadmillidea so people know it wasn’t just any regular old idea.

p.s. God exists outside of our time, making a thousand years feel like a day to Him, right? It also seems that exercise time moves a lot faster when I am caught up in God ideas. I decided in God-treadmill time, He can make 40 minutes feel like 15.

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