My husband and I just returned home from our much delayed anniversary trip. We spent ten days in Hawaii, and it was wonderful to relax, rest, and restore our souls. And then it was time to come home and get back to work. 

Honestly, after one week home I’m thinking I need another vacation! Several times on our trip, Jim and I talked about the “pace” of our lives and how much slower things seemed to happen in Hawaii.

Hawaiians walk slowly. Cars drive a LOT more slowly. And, at our anniversary dinner, I thought the coconut shrimp would never arrive. (More on that later.) 

We are back home and looking forward to the “lazy days of summer.” Will we slow down? 

Honestly, I hope not. 

RELAXED OR RESTORED? 

I’ve learned there is a significant difference between relaxed and restored. That difference is a great place to begin this month’s blog posts. We are going to spend the month of May thinking about the desert seasons of life and what we can do spiritually to move through those times. 

I think one of the great lies Satan likes to use when tempting God’s people is to convince us we need to relax, when what we most need is to be restored. 

The purpose of the Sabbath rest was so that people would focus on God. A good study of the Sabbath shows that God didn’t tell his people to “relax” their standards on the Sabbath. In fact, in many ways the standards were much higher for that day. 

It was good to relax on our vacation, but the real purpose of that time was restoration. When the ten days were over, it felt good to get back to work. 

A permanent vacation is not what God intended for our lives. 

NOW, ABOUT THOSE COCONUT SHRIMP 

There is a reason why I called this blog post “Spiritual Pilates. Every morning, Jim and I took a long walk on the beach. One of the resorts we walked past had an early morning Pilates class on the beach. There were people of all ages and abilities doing the morning routine, and I thought it looked interesting! 

I came home and found several videos I can use at my house. I’m interested in Pilates because I was a little too interested in those coconut shrimp! 

I won’t get in shape simply because I rest. I also need to rest from those coconut shrimp. God had a similar reason when he commanded us to have a Sabbath rest. Our rest is something to be worked at if we want to truly be restored. 

STRONGER IS BETTER 

I watched those people of all ages doing the Pilates class on the beach. The music was wonderfully quiet. Their movements were slow and focused. And they could modify the poses for their needs. The point of those exercises was stretching, balance, and strength. 

What would spiritual Pilates look like? 

• What area of your spiritual life needs to be stretched? If you do the same spiritual exercises all of the time, chances are you have stopped growing. Routine spirituality is good unless it has become just a routine.

• Does your life feel balanced? Sometimes work, family, stress, and health issues can throw our lives off. Our lives, this side of heaven, are imperfect. The whole point of Pilates is to counterbalance. When the things of this world pull us off-center, we need more of God in our lives as a spiritual counterbalance. We can’t keep the stuff out of our lives, but we can allow God to keep us in balance and prevent us from falling.

• Finally, all of us have a certain amount of muscle because God has created us to be strong. The same is true spiritually as well. When God gave us his Holy Spirit, he gave us his strength. But, the muscles we don’t use grow weak. No one is strong spiritually unless they consistently use the strength the Holy Spirit wants to provide.

Life is easier when we have strength. When the Pilates class ended, the people were tired—and stronger. If you need spiritual encouragement right now, that might be your answer. Tired isn’t a bad thing if what you are doing is increasing your strength. Stronger is better. 

IT’S TIME TO TRAIN FOR THE DAYS AHEAD 

COVID was hard on everyone and still is for many who haven’t had their vaccine. The hospitals are filling up again, but this time it is the younger adults with COVID. Counselors’ schedules are filled as well. For many in our culture, this past season has been their first spiritual season of living through a crisis. It was the first time their choices were limited and their freedoms were taken away. During an unhealthy season, spiritual health was even more important. In fact, I would say it was the most important counterbalance. 

Every life goes through seasons of change. One day, we will look back with understanding on the many ways God has brought good from the tough times. I think our vacation in Hawaii was made even more joyous because it became a celebration of much more than our marriage. We finally felt safe and were therefore joyful as we traveled, rested, and enjoyed the beauty of God’s world. 

When we go through a tough time or feel spiritually weak, think Pilates. We need to counterbalance. If we feel spiritually weak, we need to rest from the world and focus on God. Stronger is better. 

IN HIM WE LIVE AND MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING 

If you read this blog post, I assume you wake up each day knowing you “live and move and have [your] being” in Christ (Acts 17:28). I can’t write a blog post without using God’s word, so allow me to close with this. 

Jesus was responding to Satan’s temptations when he told the devil, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Our culture has turned God’s truth inside out. Most are much more concerned with their daily bread, and too many actually disdain the words that have come from God’s mouth. There is a great need to refocus on the laws of God so we can enjoy his blessings. 

Christians should be ready to spiritually train for the days ahead and be stronger. Maybe that is why God allowed a season of COVID. It probably isn’t difficult to know if the tough times led you to focus on the Lord more often or less. So many in our culture need to wake up in the confidence we have in Christ. We need to share “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 

What “exercise” will strengthen your walk with the Lord? 

With an army of strong believers, we can change the world. It’s happened before. I expect it will happen again. God always has a plan to restore his people to a place of strength. 

Let’s see God’s plan for the days ahead. It will be a spiritual workout. You will be stretched, balanced, and stronger. Spiritual Pilates will probably make you tired, but stronger is better. 

Will you start today?

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