I’m typically not a big reader, but recently I have stumbled on some pretty good books. I just started reading “Disciplines of a Godly Woman” by Barbara Hughes and so far it is great! In reading the first chapter today, I was really challenged by it and thought I would share an excerpt with you in hopes that it will be as encouraging and challenging for you as it was for me.
Years ago when I was in my early thirties and the busy, flabby mother of four, a friend and I made up our minds to get in shape and exercise a little physical discipline. We donned ratty old tennis shoes and weather beaten t-shirts and shorts and set out to run around the block. To our dismay, we made it only as far as the first corner, nearly fainting with that much exertion. But we didn’t give up. Every morning we tried again. The day we made it to the half-mile marker, we were so happy we celebrated with donuts! That morning workout eventually lengthened to three miles, then to five-always ending with the prize, a donut! We got fit, but we didn’t take it too seriously. We understood that some disciplines are more important than others.
The apostle Paul links this idea of necessary training or discipline with the spiritual life. First Timothy 4:7 says, “Train yourself to be godly.” That word train is derived from the very ancient Greek word from which we get the English word gymnasium. By New Testament times it referred to exercise and training in general. In a sense, Paul is saying, “Gymnasticize yourself for the purpose of godliness.” He’s calling for a spiritual workout.
It’s this spiritual workout that Paul deems so much more important than a morning jog around town. He goes on to say, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
I’m nearly sixty now- a soft grandmother of sixteen youngsters. I don’t jog anymore, though I regularly make the most of my occasional bursts of energy by using the few pieces of high-tech exercise equipment stashed inour basement. The older I get, the more I understand Paul’s exercise priorities: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4: 16).
After reading this I was challenged. Too often I focus on perfecting the things of this world, things that will some day pass away. Since I am a runner this hit home even more for me because when I think about jogging for 30 minutes I find that to be somewhat easy, yet when I try to daily spend 30 minutes reading God’s word I can at times find it challenging. While working out and running are good things, they are things that someday will fade away and when I am 60 + I’m sure working out and running will have much less importance to me. But how my relationship with the Lord is will matter greatly, because that is something that will last forever.
Training can often be challenging, whether you are training for a marathon, a test, a game, etc… yet in the end, the training was worth it because of the end result you receive. The same is true about spiritual discipline and training…it will be hard at times and there may be days where you don’t want to do it, but in the end it will be completely worth it!
John Wesley once said:
O God, fill my soul with so entire a love of Thee that I may love nothing but for Thy sake and in subordination to Thy love. Give me grace to study Thy knowledge daily that the more I know Thee, the more I may love Thee. Create in me a zealous obedience to all Thy commands, a cheerful patience under all Thy chastisements, and a thankful resignation to all Thy disposals. Let it be the one business of my life to glorify Thee by every word of my tongue, by every work of my hand, by professing Thy truth, and by engaging all men, so far as in me lies, to glorify and love Thee.
I too want this to be the cry of my heart! I don’t want to look back on my life and only remember the hours I spent training for races or wasting time doing things that don’t matter for eternity. Instead I hope and pray that at the end of my life I will see all the ways the Lord continually was moving in my life and how I was earnestly seeking Him with all that I am. But in order to have such results, it must start today.
So I challenge you too…how is your relationship with the Lord? Are you giving your all to Him even when things are hard? Are you willing to discipline yourself for the sake of the cross?
Lord, draw my heart and draw the hearts of those who read this today. Make us more like You. Give us discipline and a desire for you Lord. And help us earnestly seek You with all that we are.
**Excerpts were taken from the book “Disciplines of a Godly Woman” by Barbara Hughes. Check it out, it’s good!