Once upon a time I was a girl who always had a bike rack attached to her car. Where I went, my bike went just in case an unexpected opportunity arose. Then I had children, fracturing my tailbone with the birth of my second daughter.
Riding a bike was out of the question. The pain would not allow it. It took two years, lots of activity modification, and 3 injections to feel semi-normal. Even then, continuing education classes and conferences were dreaded. The all-day sitting would bring back the pain for a week or more.
I’ve avoided cycling ever since out of fear of exacerbating this old pain. Read that statement again. This time read it and fill in your own blank. I’ve avoided _____ out of fear of exacerbating this old pain. Eye opening, isn’t it?
But the Bible says do not fear?
Wow! There is that word again, fear. That word so many of us don’t quite know how to manage as Christians. God tells us many times in His Word not to fear, 365 times actually. Easier said than done. If we are fearful, does that mean we don’t trust God? Does it mean we don’t believe He is with us? Do we not believe He can do all things? Or maybe we believe He can but question WILL He?
The closest I get to avoiding fear is an understanding that whatever happens in this life is temporary and the things I fear will not exist in eternity. However, they DO exist now and they can cause great pain in our present life. I’m also not thrilled to know snakes will exist in heaven. I’m still working on that one.
Fear is real. Pain is real. But they don’t have the final say.
Fear is real. Pain is real. But they don’t have the final say. As Christians, we know how this story ends.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.Revelation 21:4 NLT
Two weeks ago I pulled my bicycle out of the shed where it’s been for the last ten years since my youngest daughter was born . One week ago I picked it up from the bike shop after a tune up. Yesterday, I took a slow ride through our vacation neighborhood with my daughters. Slow and steady, easing back in.
This morning, my daughters dropped off after three miles parking their bikes in the garage. I kept going. This time, I was completely free to gain speed, try new routes, and reconnect with a part of myself that has been dormant for far too long.
As I rode uninhibited, wind blowing through my hair, the forgotten sound of gears changing and speed increasing I felt alive again. I didn’t feel pain, only achievement and joy through an activity I thought was forever restricted. I can’t tell you how I will feel tomorrow or later this week but today, I’ve been gifted with a piece of myself poured back in.
The Pursuit of Health
I have spent the past few years focusing on my spiritual health. If I’m honest, much of it was at the expense of my time allotted for physical health. I replaced my workouts with Bible study. Time with God in His Word is an absolute must. I don’t like how I feel without my daily bread.
But I also don’t like how I feel when I don’t take care of my body. I wrongly thought as a working mom with a husband, two children, and a home that needed my attention I only had time for one and in that case, Bible study it was. But God created us to thrive when all of our needs are tended to: spiritual, emotional, and physical.
God will always come first.
My priority will always be God first. But our physical and emotional needs are an important part of God fulfilling his purposes through us. As a physical therapist, I never thought I would lose sight of this and sacrifice things such as cycling and running, the very things that kept my heart pumping. But I did. We keep what we invest in. The same is true of our spiritual health. I lost my physical endurance but gained a spiritual endurance I previously would have thought impossible. The good news is, we don’t have to choose one over the other.
It’s wonderful when we are able to combine our worship and time with God with our physical pursuits. For example, I love listening to worship music while working out and find it gives me the push I need to keep going. I often think, “If Jesus endured this for me, I can push up one more hill.”
If you are interested in learning more about implementing physical, emotional, and spiritual health as a means to wholeness check out Jen Roland. She writes on this very topic in order to be our best selves to work for the glory of God.
It’s not a sprint. Take it one step at a time.
Friends, I’m getting there one step at a time. I have several fears to conquer. The example I gave above is just one. I encourage you take a look at the blank you filled in above. Pray for wisdom, strength, and courage from the Holy Spirit to conquer that fear. Yes, fear is real and so is both physical and emotional pain. But as children of God, we were not created to live in that fear.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:7 NLT
What fears are lingering in your heart today? Is God prompting you to address a fear you have been avoiding?
Remember God’s past faithfulness.
In order to overcome fear it often helpful to recall situations He has guided us through previously. Looking back on His faithfulness in Scripture and in our personal lives is a great way to renew our trust in order to take that next brave step. One brave step at a time. Friends, we were not meant to conquer fear or circumstances in our own strength. Even when it does not make sense to us, God always has a plan and calls us to lean into Him for strength and guidance.
This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.1 Corinthians 1:25 NLT
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.Ephesians 3:20 NLT
Looking back on His faithfulness, I would love to hear of a fear you have conquered in His strength. Let’s encourage one another.
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.Philippians 4:13 NLT
Book Recommendation for Managing Fear:
If you would like to learn more about managing fear and embracing Holy courage in a broken world I highly recommend reading I Choose Brave by Kate Westenberg.