Pastor’s Blog

“Spiritual Growth: More Than Intention… It’s Disciplined Action” by Rev. Anthony L. Trufant

Nov 12, 2021 | Devotionals, Pastor's Blogs

I have gained more weight during Covid, mainly because I was indoors more than outdoors. However, I did so at a much deeper level because the foods I ate, especially the sweets, helped me manage my anxiety and stress. At the time, I did not focus on the consequences of the choices I made. I simply enjoyed eating what I wanted and not worrying about it.

Now, I regret doing what I wanted. I’m in worse shape than I was before. It’s not irreversible. At almost 60 (14 Jan. 2022), it will be harder than ever before for me to take off the weight. To take it off, I know what I must do: 1) Watch what, when, and how much I eat. 2) Exercise three to four times per week. That’s the formula. Easy to understand, but hard to do. I must force myself to remember and act on my desire for a better quality of health and increase the likelihood of living a longer life.

During Covid, some of you have done whatever you wanted. You have practiced and/or picked up habits that increased pleasure, reduced pain, and relieved stress — in one form or another. Like me, you may have snacked on psycho-emotional junk food. You, too, may not be where you hoped to be by the end of the year. On 1 Jan. 2021, you may have been over Covid and looked forward to all of the things you would be able to do once the virus was under control.

We are only weeks away from the end of the year. The end of Covid is not in sight. However, we need not wait until after the holidays to start working on our weight, worrying too much, or whatever else our challenge may be. We can start today, not some distant tomorrow. We can achieve weight loss goals and other goals by remembering the mantra of the tortoise who raced the fast, overconfident rabbit: Slow and steady wins the race.

More importantly, we need not wait on the end of Covid to achieve and enjoy our most important goal as Christians: Focus on and follow through on growing closer to Christ. This may sound like one of the predictable, pious things you’d expect me, your spiritual coach, to say. Yet, it does not make it any less accurate, nor urgent.

Ofttimes, I believe we miss the point when making these types of exhortative statements. There are actual, significant, and personal benefits drawing closer to Christ. By drawing closer to Christ, we learn to:

  • Connect with Christ daily to gain greater clarity about our God-given sense of destiny, identity, and history;
  • Leverage the power the Father and Son have given us, through the Holy Spirit, to become better versions of ourselves each day;
  • Participate in Christian community which helps us to gain, bit by bit, the right mindset and skill set to demonstrate the love, joy, and righteousness of Christ wherever we go and with whomever; and
  • Utilize the ways God equips us with wisdom and power to make kingdom-size differences daily.
    • (Sometimes those differences will be dramatic and gigantic. At other times, those differences will be as subtle, small, and yet significant as letting the light and life of Christ shine through us.)

Perhaps we can gain some insight and motivation from Paul’s advice addressed to his protégé in 1 Timothy 4:7b-8, NRSV:

Train yourself in godliness, 8 for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

 Again, another bit of instruction and inspiration from Paul in Philippians 2:12c-13, NRSV:

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

 Whether you and I will lose weight, only God knows. However, we do know, if we fail to find sufficient desire and discipline to grow in Jesus, we can anticipate how well we will handle our ongoing daily commitments and upcoming episodic challenges. What’s more, we cannot calculate how many people will miss out on their worth, worship, and work through Christ because we were not growing in our purpose and place.

Let’s end with the Apostle Peter’s admonition to the Churches in Asia Minor:

You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (2 Peter 3:17-18, NRSV).

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