Friday, March 14, 2014

Heart, Soul and Strength

"Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:5)."

Recently, my church explored the differences among love's expression through one's heart, one's soul and one's strength, like the Lord commands his people to do in Deuteronomy 6. I've always understood this passage to merely emphasize how much we should love God. I used to brush off the phrase "heart, soul and strength" like it was just the scholars' way of pinching the reader, reminding us heathens to love God — and to love him with everything we got.

What I've come to learn is that in three simple words, this verse indicates there are several ways we can express love to God. ... Several ways our lives can worship Christ.

1. Heart — This refers to loving God with our spirit, the part of us that God created and the part of us that will live eternally.

2. Soul — This refers to our "ghetto" self. Totally kidding. This refers to our set of values and principles and our will. All of our daily decisions are dictated by our soul (unless, hopefully, our spirit takes precedence and influences our soul).

3. Strength — Obviously, this one's my favorite. This refers to the way in which our body worships the Lord. How do our actions, our talents, our skills, our physical disciplines tell God that we love him?

Once I received this new understanding of Deuteronomy 6:5, I immediately thought of my passion for fitness and health. I knew I wasn't just crazy!

God's given me an intense enthusiasm for maintaining physical fitness and challenging myself to always be self-improving. Sometimes, I feel like that couple that keeps redecorating their house, never satisfied with their final product — not in a self-deprecating sort of way, like I'm so down on myself that I'll never be content with who I am — but in a way that strives to always self-evaluate and compare myself to Christ in order to draw more of the Holy Spirit out of me and less of my human self.

Lord, rise up in me so that people see more of you and less of me.

That's probably my most often-said prayer throughout the day. Most of the time, I'm trying extra hard to internally assess my reasons for being so obsessed with fitness and nutrition because unfortunately, the fitness industry has a huge movement of people wanting to self-improve only to glorify themselves rather than God. And I want to make sure I'm never motivated like that.

When the Lord commands us to love him with all of our strength, I believe he desires us to fortify our bodies like warriors. With a strong body and temple for the Holy Spirit to live in, we are able to become more Christlike.

In the process of getting stronger, we realize our weaknesses. 

When you begin fitness training, you quickly realize that maybe you're not the hotshot you thought you were. Before I lifted all the time, it's safe to say I was a cardio bunny. Maybe I didn't hog the elliptical like stereotypical cardio bunnies, but I would run 16+ miles per week, along with bike rides and walks and jogs. The closest thing to a deadlift I did was bend down to tie my running shoes. Despite this idea in my head that I was a gymrat/workoutaholic/fitness guru, I quickly learned I didn't know it all ....

The first week of my new bodybuilding regimen, I nearly cried ... literally ... First day, on the leg press, first exercise.

Weak sauce!

I realized that if I was going to keep up this training and eventually get good at it (because that's the idea, right?), then I was going to have to figure out a reason — other than looking decent in a bikini — to keep killing myself in the gym. Not to mention taking hits to the heart on the nutrition side of bodybuilding.

The stronger we get, the more credit Christ receives.

Somewhere in the process, God spoke to me and deepened his root in my life. I started listening to sermons when I worked out, and when I was alone on the track or in the weight room on a Friday night, I'd whisper prayers between sets.

The loneliness involved in this kind of training forces me to humbly lean on the comfort and peace only the Holy Spirit can supply. Not even my husband could understand (until he started his own training).

Because I opened myself up to receive the Lord and made efforts to pursue him like he had always been pursuing me, he kept showing up in my life. I saw results in my training. Other people saw results and were encouraged. I saw blessings in my finances and my career. I saw my relationships with people bloom. I'm still seeing it!

But what I try to always fall back on is giving glory to the only one who can truly take credit for any good thing in my life, and that's Jesus. It's funny how time goes on, I get a little bit more comfortable talking about it ... more than comfortable ... more like an excitement ... telling someone how I found God through fitness.

You may not ever understand it, but all I know is that God has shown me that all he wants is a willing heart and a teachable soul. He can use anybody, no matter what you've done or where you've been. The more problems you've had or caused, the more reason God has to take your life, transform it, and say, "See?? Look at my masterpiece. I took this broken, shattered, messed-up person and mended all the pieces back together. Only now, my golden holiness is intertwined with your sweet, unique spirit, and you are more valuable than ever before!"


  1. I am happy to find so many useful information here in the post, thanks for sharing it here.I hope you will adding more.I know something information about Fitness Fact that works properly. You may check it out. I hope that it will equally help you.

    1. Hi Aviana! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. :) It's always nice to know people listen. I hope to write a book some day, with many thoughts like this and a message that motivates others to love Jesus with their heart, soul and strength.


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