Come with me for a moment and see what it is like for me when I run. It takes me a while to get myself motivated. I wear the gym clothes, put in the ear buds, tie my sneaker laces, and get myself out the door. Oh but before I even dress I have been prepping myself all day long. I think about the time of day at which I will run, where I am going to make my 2 mile loop, what hills or valleys will I fight. I drink at least 32 ounces of water throughout the day for hydration and to avoid cramping. I eat a good meal that also gives me energy, at breakfast and lunch. So when I walk out the door the only thing that I have to fight, is me. That mind of mine will play tricks that I cannot avoid.
I go out and start my run. I feel pretty good initially but then a third of the way through the first mile I get this cramp. I get discouraged because I drank all that water earlier. I keep going. Somehow the cramp works itself out and I am able to stand straighter. Then there is the hill that I prepared myself for. I climb it with my heart pounding. My chest gets so tight that its hard to even inhale. I begin to slow down, my steps small. But I keep going. I know that at the top of the hill, it evens out. I know that if I just keep going I will know that I conquered.
Finally I reach the top of the hill and my heart rate slows, I can sort of breathe again. I smile thinking about how I got through that without stopping. I start to notice the birds singing and fluttering in the trees, the breeze is light and cooling. Then after a while I become extremely warm. The sun starts to get in my eyes and I cannot see. Sweat is beading on my hairline and its dripping down my back. It's hard to breathe again. Not because of a tight chest but because the breeze stopped and the air is stagnant. I am almost to the end. The grade is just a slight climb and I must fight from stopping. And to think that I am not even racing anyone else. I am just trying to fight myself. I know that I want to get to the end.
Spiritually, this run is real. I know that at the end I will see Christ. His peace for myself is like a cool drink after sweating it out in the sun. My mind fights more battles than my body ever will. The exercise that I make it go through is harder to find or see. What I have found is that taking care of our minds spiritually is just as important as working our bodies physically. Being mindful of what we make it do, crucial.
1. We have to give our minds a purpose and a use. It needs to know what will happen, so when anything does happen, it knows what to do. Getting it ready beforehand is where the beginning of overcoming mental blocks, illnesses, and devastation will happen more frequently. We have to create a strategy. Work out those details so that when the struggles come, we are ready.
2. We have to get real serious in our attitudes about this. The quality time we spend prepping our minds will get us far. Letting God come into our lifestyles and examining our characters is rather revealing and makes us squeamish. We, easily, want to be set on fire and go crazy with our discoveries but what the Holy Spirit wants to do is balance us out. Our minds need to be steadfast and earnestly thoughtful. Not just moving on a whim. It is a deep awareness of God's presence.
3. We have to focus our desires on the grace we have been given. Cherishing that grace with our lives. What is that grace? It is an unmerited help from our Creator given to us so that we may be created anew. We are restored to a better, higher, and more worthy place. How did we find out about this grace? When we found Christ.
Being completely changed spiritually is powerful. It explains the gospel of Christ. We go through our lives living with the bad habits and behaviors like we are stuck. What the Word is speaking to me is that taking on that grace and being changed means a lot of soul searching and mind work. It means that it is possible to overcome ourselves. It is possible to have a character more in line with who Christ is.
The battle is real, but the strategies are endless.
*Based 1 Peter 1:13