In preparing for the third installment of our small, inadequate attempt at reviewing Tozer, I remembered an old question that some of you have heard me ask. You'll forgive me if I repeat a portion of it: "Would you forfeit your health for the Lord? More specifically, would you give up your fitness lifestyle if God asked you to?"
Maybe you're a runner. An avid runner. Your calendar is marked -- not with holidays and birthdays -- but with 10Ks. Or perhaps you're a fitness junkie. You lift, you sprint, you jump rope, you sweat and you repeat it...six days a week. What if God asked you to give it all up? And no, He doesn't give you His reasoning because He doesn't need to explain Himself to you. All you know is that the one passion you have in life -- that ONE thing that fulfills you and makes you...you -- He wants you to relinquish. No more gym. No more road. How would you feel? Sad, confused, both? What would you do? Well, before you say, "Jimmy, I doubt God would ever ask me to give up something like that," with the help of Tozer, let's look at someone who would beg to differ...
Tozer writes, "The baby (Isaac) represented everything sacred to his father's heart: the promises of God, the covenants, the hopes of the years. As he watched Isaac grow, the heart of the old man was knit closer to the life of his son till at last the relationship bordered upon the perilous. God stepped in to save both father and son, "Take thine son and offer him..." The sacred writer spares us a close-up of the agony that night when the aged man had it out with his God, but possibly not again until One greater than Abraham wrestled in the garden of Gethsemane did such mortal pain visit a human soul. This was Abraham's trial by fire, and he did not fail in the crucible. God let the suffering old man go through with it up to the point where He knew there would be no retreat, and then forbade him to lay a hand upon the boy. And then says in effect, It's all right, Abraham. I never intended that you should actually slay the lad. I only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there."
For Discussion: The temple of your heart. Does God reign there unchallenged? Has the stitching between our heart for God and our passion for fitness grown indistinguishable? Too many days - let alone workouts - have I spent attempting to allow other things challenge God for His rightful place...
I asked our opening question on Facebook yesterday, and here are a few of the responses:
Gina Rodriguez writes: I'm going to write something that may not be "right" but it's hard for me to answer this quickly..... My heart wants to say "heck yeah!" Of course! However, deep in my heart I know it would hurt... It would hurt me because I have a problem with wanting to know "why".... And with that I will say I pray that I would obey, but I am stubborn.... And I may need to be on my knees for help because as easy as it sounds to say yes, it's a lot harder to do. I know myself, and I know my shortcomings, and I know that complete surrender is something I need the Holy Spirit to help me with. So now that this question is thrown out there, I know I need to reflect on things and make sure God is center.... Completely the center of it all.
Trisha Kinney says: The simple answer is YES... And, if you can't say yes, then you know you have an idol in your life! God may not take issue with the "exercise", or any specific hobby that may take your time... He is concerned about where that "hobby" falls on your list of priorities!
God has asked this of me... But, in my case it wasn't to stop exercising ( because frankly it saved my life ) it was to put Jesus back on the throne in my life... Because, He is ultimately what truly saved my life! The exercise was just another discipline to help me grow in my walk with Him... However, it quickly took center stage!
I mourned, then I was humbled, then I evaluated my priorities... Finally, I reconfigured my lifestyle pertaining to fitness. It is a daily awareness of what "fitness" is in my life... and is NOT!
Jennifer Huber says: Jimmy this really gets me to thinking....
A year ago I would've struggled with giving up my daily workouts or my passion for hitting the pavement. I would've used every excuse in the book on why and how I could serve God wholeheartedly and train hard 6x a week. I've learned a hard lesson. You cant.
My mind and heart was not solely focused on his word and my prayer life was not strong. I was more into the next rep and the big PR.
God got my attention when my husband began having extreme leg pain which we thought was sciatica, had xrays and discovered he has severe spine degeneration in his mid- back from an injury 20 yrs ago. Before his diagnosis and even now I pray harder than I ever have, I am living and breathing his word and when I do workout it's to stay healthy not to be the best. My relationship with God, my family and health that's a big deal.
I'm grateful for the grace he shows us daily, sometimes we don't understand the circumstance he uses to get our attention but we need to trust that he is in control.
I am still praying for a complete healing in his back and his pain to cease in Jesus name!
Melanie Dominique replies: I would pray about it and if He really wanted me to heck yeah. I am probably using it to sin. Making it a priority over time spent and focused on Him. Perhaps I've made it a false idol. He said He's a jealous God. It's a no brainer.
MaryAnne Rowinski answered: Yes, of course! Listen and obey! The listening part is easy. I'm not so sure the obey part is that easy.
And Heather Faxon responded: I would be sad and confused! I would hope I could say yes though. It's hard to live in this world. What society says about what defines us. I'm sure it would be hard but I'm growing in faith everyday and pray that what I know to believe that defines me is jesus and my faith in him. There's all kinds of things and people that drives us to believe we need to live up to worldly standard. My pray is that I could ultimately lose all control and have completely true faith in my savior!