Links Daily Devotional

Building Spiritual Muscle

While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed. (Mark 1:35, The Message)

I am still fascinated by golf. It has now been sixty years that I have been playing the game. Did I just say that? Sixty years!

Starting at the ripe old age of six and playing a lot of golf in those sixty years, I should know all about it by now. I don’t. At times I feel like the game has passed me by, as I hear others talk about launch angle, levers, and stack-and-tilt. What happened to “take dead aim?” I am still amazed that our golf muscles have such long memories.

I recently read an article about muscle memory. It turns out that when we build new muscles, they generate new muscle nuclei. When we stop training, we lose muscle mass but the nuclei remain. When we resume training, these nuclei give us a head start. The earlier we begin to train, the earlier we acquire such nuclei and the more of them we retain, even if we lay off for a long time.

This helps explain why we can stop playing golf for quite some time and recover reasonably good form our first day back. It is really like riding a bicycle. Once you learn, your muscle memory will never forget.

But I want more. I want spiritual muscle.

Jesus thought it crucial. He would rise early, in the darkness before dawn, to build spiritual muscle with His Father. He had to do it then because He was busy during the day, teaching, healing, and drawing others to Him. On our busy days, what is our excuse? Does spiritual muscle rank high enough in importance to spend quality and quantity time with the Creator of the universe, who is also our Lord and Savior?

Spiritual muscle can be viewed as analogous to passion, commitment, and devotion. What are we passionate about and devoted to? I can bet that whatever that priority is, we are spending time there building muscle for what we view as important. C.S. Lewis once said, “If Christianity is false, it is of no importance. If true, it is of infinite importance. What can never be said is that it is moderately important.”

Importance. Everyone has a priority list. Where on that list is time with God? Jesus knew what His priority was and knew that He needed this time with the Father.

I have become convicted by the lukewarm Christian who implies the weakest of prayers with his priorities: “Thank You, Jesus, for dying for my sins. Now I pray for more money to take that vacation I deserve. Please bless us with a nice, comfortable life so that we can be happy. Your sacrifice was awesome, but please don’t have me sacrifice my security for You. I am moved by stories of people who have sacrificed all for You, but they are radical and extreme and I am just average. My spiritual muscle memory is OK for now.”

I do want so much more! So maybe I should ask: “God, give me more of Your Spirit and a desire to spend time with You early in the morning. I want more spiritual muscle that will last forever and ever. God, I am ready for a good workout tomorrow morning. I’ll meet You way before dawn. See You then. And thanks for answering my prayer.”

Randy Wolff

July 6, 2011

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