Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | April 1, 2020

Knocking Down Idols

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

The gym has been my “thing” for decades. When I was in college, I started teaching aerobics (that’s the ancient word for “fitness classes” for anyone under 40). Then, as years progressed, I dove with abandon into trend after trend—step class, Tae Bo, P90X, kickboxing, yoga…you get the picture. Always hitting the gym hours before the rest of my family got out of bed for the day. Asked for his opinion, my husband may use the word “obsession.”

After becoming a Christian, many habits of my “old self” ceased—praise God. Walking with the Lord shifted my priorities and studying the Bible became a daily practice. But don’t start rolling your eyes at my piety just yet.

See, my daily morning devotion time came only after I spent an hour and a half at the gym. The 15-30 minutes I spent in the Word was an item on my “to-do-before-everyone-wakes-up” list…and it wasn’t at the top.

But the Lord knew my desire to walk more closely with Him. And He knew my stubbornness about “my” gym time. So, because I ignored His whispers to me about my priorities (dare I say, my idolatry), He was forced to shout. During a fitness season of boxing, I sustained multiple injuries (two of which required surgeries), and my workouts came to a complete halt.

And I am so grateful.

Instead of spending nearly two hours focused on exercising my body, that same time went to training in God’s Word and listening to Him speak to my hungry soul. I was being truly obedient in spiritual disciplines (not just box-checking). My relationship with Him grew deeply over the next years (yes, years) of near-sedentary living.

And although I can do some physical activity now, the Lord knows me—and so does the devil. Over the past few years, my idolatry has slowly crept back in a bit. Sure, I don’t come home dripping with sweat (and maybe a little blood), but early-morning gym-attendance has once again become a daily thing, prioritized as the first thing. Because my work is from home and flexible, I’m able to spend a good chunk of time in the Word…but have I put that old idol back on its feet? Am I, like Achan after the fall of Jericho (Joshua 7:10-26) secretly holding onto something in my tent that the Lord specifically told me not to?

Well, enter COVID-19. My gym has closed. And I am terrified—not of illness or financial ruin, but of not being able to work out. And just like that, the Lord is once again forcing my hand, pulling back the curtain of my self-idolatry. I get to reassess my heart and fully dive back into the Lord’s priorities. (In full disclosure, I’m not quite “grateful” yet, but I know I’ll get there.)

So, what about you? What can you learn from the COVID-19—about yourself, your heart, your God? Let’s all use this time to assess, refocus, and prioritize Jesus.

“Lord, show me how I can grow closer to You during this crisis. Teach me and use this time for my good and Your glory.”

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

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