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February 2nd Weekly Meditation

Happy/Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the LORD their God... - Psalm 146:5


My wife thinks I have a problem. Okay, many problems, but let's not go there. She thinks I am addicted to exercise. She says I get grumpy if I miss a workout and if I am injured and cannot run I am not "fit to live with." She's crazy though. I really don't think I have a problem. I could stop any time. I just don't want to.

Seriously, though, exercise is an important part of my life and has been for much of my life. I started running in seventh grade. That was when my family moved from Minnesota to New York. The cross country coach welcomed us to town and invited my brother and I to run cross country. We did, and that was how we made friends in our new school.

In college and seminary, running was a way to test myself. How far could I go? How fast? How do I stack up against others my age. It also supercharged my metabolism so I felt I could eat whatever I wanted.

My motivation changed with marriage and ministry. While I still trained and worked to improve, I discovered running, and later biking, helped to keep me balanced. It was a time to reflect, unwind, think things through. I exercised for my mental and spiritual health as much as my physical health, though the fact I could still eat pretty much anything was a pleasant bonus.

Fitness experts and coaches will tell you one of the keys to sustaining an exercise routine is to understand why you do it in the first place. What is your motivation? Knowing that is what gets you out the door when it's 17 degrees and you have a seven mile run planned!

It's good to think about what motivates us to do whatever we do. What motivates you to get up and go to work? Well, there is that paycheck, but I hope it's more than that, too. And what motivates how we spend that paycheck? Or what we value? Or how we treat others?

Sometimes we are motivated by greed. Sometimes by selfishness. Sometimes by fear. These are normal human reactions, and they are not always unhealthy. They are unhealthy when they become our main, or only, motivations, and certainly we must be on guard against them.

As people of faith, we must also be motivated by our trust in God and God's vision for the world. The teachings of Jesus and our own desire to work for God's kingdom that has come near in him should motivate much of what we do. The love and respect for others found in the Bible ought to motivate how we treat one another.

Reflecting on what motivates us to do the things we do is a spiritual practice. And keeping God's ways in the center of our lives can help us be happy and blessed. May God's will be the motivation behind everything we do.

Now excuse me. It's time for me to go for a run.


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Our shut-ins: Kate Shelley, Dot Ann Smith, Nora Smith, Helen Payne

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