It's Better to Stay in Shape

When Jason and I first started hiking at the end of last summer, I was seriously out of shape.  I could barely handle a one-mile hike.  My muscles were sore and achy.  My heart would pound like it was about to jump out of my chest.  I couldn't catch my breath.  And I'd have blisters the size of quarters on my heels.  Some of you are probably thinking, You do this for fun?  Yes, I do, but I have to admit, it wasn't all fun at the beginning.

By spring of this year, we were tackling 10-12 mile hikes.  Yes, they were tough.  Yes, I got tired.  Yes, I occasionally came home with blisters.  But I could do it.  I had gotten myself into "hiking shape."  I had strengthened my muscles and my heart.  I had improved my lungs.  I had actually built callouses on my heels.  I was capable of hiking long distances without collapsing or dying!  Frankly, I was proud of myself.

During the summer, even though Jason was home each day, we didn't hike many long hikes.  We hiked often, but we tried to stick to easier trails or shorter trails.  The reason?  As I've mentioned before, hiking in the summer is not nearly as fun as it is the rest of the year.  There are so many things to contend with:  the heat, snakes, spiders, the heat, gnats, mosquitoes, the heat, bees, hornets, and did I mention the heat?  So, needless to say, I got out of shape a little during the summer.

Now that Jason has gone back to work, our hiking has been reduced to a few weekend trips a month.  How is that impacting my health?  Let's just say that we took a fairly easy trail last Saturday, and I had to turn back at the half-way point because of the blisters on my feet.  Had it not been for the blisters, I'm sure I would have made it, but I was more winded than I should have been on such an easy trail.  I've also noticed more problems lately with my arthritis and my bursitis.  Oh, and I'm gaining weight again.  BUMMER!!!

Through it all, I've learned a couple of things.  First, it's easier to get out of shape than it is to get in shape.  Second, it's easier to stay in shape than it is to get in shape.  The same can be said about our walk with the Lord.

You see, it's not easy to get into a good daily walk with the Lord.  It's not easy to take time each day to read the Bible.  It's not easy to find the time to pray like we should.  It's not easy to shut out the noises of the world and listen for God to speak.  It's hard work!  But, once we get those things established in our lives, they become easier.  They become a part of our day.  They become things that we look forward to.  They become things that we don't want to live without.  They become as natural to us as breathing.

But if we miss a day here and there, we'll start to lose our "conditioning."  We'll start to become "out of shape" spiritually, and things will grow harder again.  When things are more difficult, we find our desire for them wanes, so we miss more days.  Do you see the pattern?  After a while, we find ourselves back at square one, desperately out of shape and wishing we didn't have to start all over again.

My challenge to you today is to stay in shape with your daily walk.  Make it a part of your life and don't let anything keep you from it.  I know it's hard, but it will get easier.  Just keep at it!